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Flossmoor scores MWRD grant; newcomers join village commissions 

Flossmoor is in line to get a major monetary boost to its water infrastructure improvement program for Hagen Lane and Douglas Avenue.

At a rescheduled village board meeting Sept. 8, Mayor Paul Braun announced that the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago provided officials notice that Flossmoor is to receive a grant. Details on the final project were not available.

Village Manager Bridget Wachtel confirmed the grant will cover $754,000 of an estimated $1 million price tag for the project.

Village officials have previously said that rear yard areas along Hagen and Douglas flood during storm events and cause structural damage to homes and garages when flooding occurs.

In February, the Chronicle reported that Baxter & Woodman Consulting Engineers submitted an application to the MWRD Stormwater Partnership Program to request funding for the project. Baxter & Woodman is conducting the study of Flossmoor’s flood-prone areas.

Braun said the news means the village’s share will only be roughly $150,000 for the nearly $1 million project. He credited the work of lobbyist Matthew O’Shea with playing a part in the village being awarded the grant.

“This grant alone justifies his salary,” Braun said. “It just paid off big-time.”

Wachtel clarified that O’Shea’s role was to arrange a meeting in January with MWRD Commissioner Kari K. Steele for Wachtel, Braun and Public Works Director John Brunke “to tell our story and the flooding issues we are experiencing throughout the community, including the Flossmoor Road viaduct.”


Joining the team

Three Flossmoor residents have stepped up to volunteer their time on various village commissions, while another was promoted to the Green Commission’s chair position.

Braun made the appointment with unanimous village board consent at the  Sept. 8 meeting.

Arlene “Sugar” Al-Amin, an eight-year resident of the village, was appointed to Flossmoor’s Community Relations Committee. She is the vice president of the Flossmoor Service League.

Harrison Maddox, a three-year resident of Flossmoor, was appointed to the village’s Plan Commission. Braun said Maddox brings 15 years of public service to the table, having previously served in Glenwood and Country Club HIlls and with the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District.

Aracelis “Janelle” Scharon, an 11-year resident of Flossmoor, was appointed to the Green Commission. She will serve with Eric Turnquest, a Green Commission member who was appointed chairperson. Braun said prior Chairperson Jennifer O’Keefe stepped down from the role. Turnquest holds a master’s degree in public health sciences.


Purchasing phase

The village board also voted unanimously to approve two purchase requests to replace equipment.

Deputy Police Chief Clint Wagner requested 26 radios, an all-band consolette and accessories, chargers, antennae and microphones. The board approved the equipment purchase from Miner Electronics for $123,103.53 — $10,211 less than what was allocated.

Wagner told the board the department’s existing portable radios — which are owned by the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department — were at the end of their service life as of Dec. 31, 2018. The department was able to extend the use through “care and proper maintenance,” Wagner wrote in a memo to Wachtel.

But Cook County is switching from frequency division multiple access radios to time division multiple access. That makes Flossmoor’s system obsolete as of Jan. 29, 2021. The old equipment must be returned.

While officials noted they might typically ask the department to hold off on a purchase like this with everything occurring right now, the service is necessary and the change unavoidable.

“That’s the situation we’re in,” Braun said. “Not much choice there, one way or another.”

Wagner said the village is saving some money by purchasing lighter-duty radios for community service officers. He also noted the finance department recommended purchasing the radios outright, despite a financing option, to save on additional charges.

Wachtel added that the purchase was built into the village’s capital replacement schedule.

Assistant Public Works Director Dan Milovanovic also submitted in writing to the board a request to purchase a Rotary Lift SPO16 two-post vehicle lift and a Rotary Lift

SM30-S four-post heavy-duty vehicle lift. The board approved the purchases for $62,367.94 from Standard Industrial & Automotive Equipment of Hanover Park.
The total for the two lifts came in under approved budget by $17,600.

Public Works Director John Brunke, who spoke to the request before the board, noted the lifts are used by the village’s mechanic. The existing lifts were purchased in 1985 and 1996, and are on a 20-year placement schedule.

They are inspected every six months, and last year they were found to be in poor condition. The inspector recommended the lifts be replaced because they present safety hazards. If the village kept using them could create liability issues for the village, Braun said.

“This is another (purchase) we didn’t have much choice over,” Braun added.


Trees for free

The mayor also noted the village’s parkway tree program is now offering trees to residents at no cost.

“Generally, we have been doing a share of the cost,” Braun said.

But last year’s turnout was low, so the village is shifting plans and taking on the complete cost if anyone wants a tree for the parkway.

“It’s free,” Braun said. “It’s not going to cost anything for anybody to put in a tree.”

Residents are encouraged to contact the village’s Public Works Department at 708-957-4100 for more information.

Aracelis “Janelle” Scharon’s length of residence in Flossmoor originally has been corrected. The Chronicle regrets the error.

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