The Village of Steeleville has its next fire chief.
Rich Reitz, a 34-year veteran of the Steeleville Fire Department, was appointed by the Steeleville Village Board on Monday to replace retiring Chief Carlos Barbour.
Barbour was elected as the new Randolph County coroner in the Nov. 8 general election, a role he assumed on Dec. 1. Barbour"s retirement, as well as Reitz"s appointment, is effective Jan. 1.
"I did not have to, but it worked out better that way," Barbour said on stepping down as chief. "I wanted to devote the time to the (coroner"s) office."
Barbour, whose resignation as chief was also accepted during Monday"s meeting, has been in the position since 2005 and first joined the department in April of 1981.
"Through the years, we"ve seen a lot of changes made equipment-wise," Barbour said. "When I joined the fire department, our trucks were bigger, we only had three airpacks in the whole department and now we have 15 and we"ve continued to grow with our equipment.
"We"ve started the first responder program here in Steeleville and we run 300 medical calls a year now."
Reitz told the newspaper that he and Barbour had previous discussions about the fire chief position and if Reitz would accept it if Barbour stepped down.
"I"m looking forward to it," Reitz said. "I"ve been on it since November of 1982. I"ve seen a lot of good people come and go and I"m glad to be a part of it."
"It"s a good community service too," Reitz said. "We"ve got to have good first responders and good people donating their time."
Reitz credited his close working relationship with Barbour as a reason he feels it will be a smooth transition.
"I think I"ll be able to catch on pretty easy," he said. "I"ve been lucky the last few years to work with Carlos and he"s been very transparent on what we do.
"I hope to continue to grow as we have."
Barbour said he wished to thank the village board, fire department and citizens of Steeleville for allowing him to serve for the past 35 years.
"Oh definitely," Barbour said on if he will miss the fire department. "It will be an odd feeling not leaving the house. It was a difficult decision to make, but it was for the best."
In addition, the Village Board appointed Mike Armstrong to serve as assistant fire chief, also effective on Jan 1.
In other news, the board approved a yearly $1,000 stipend for the canine police officer.
"That"s for care and training of the dog and for canine callouts," said Steeleville Mayor Bob Sutton in a phone interview with the Ledger.
Sutton also updated the board on a recent Illinois Department of Transportation meeting in Collinsville, during which he received more information on the West Broadway Street resurfacing project from Locust Street to the village limits that"s scheduled for next summer.
"It looks like the letting will happen in March," Sutton told the Ledger last week. "The objective is to get this done from Locust Street to city limits before the 4th of July."
Sutton said the roadway will be ground down four inches and replaced with "interstate-grade asphalt."
"We wanted interstate-grade through there because of all the traffic that goes through there," Sutton said.
Sutton said citizens should expect some road closures as a result of the project.
"We"re going to be looking at some street closures in Steeleville to help them along to get this accomplished," he said. "Some side streets will be shut off. People are going to have to move an extra couple of blocks to cross."
Sutton noted the reason for that is the 4-inch dropoff between lanes.
"(IDOT) will have to provide temporary ramps down to the road surface," he said.
• The Village Board approved a $200 donation to the Steeleville Chamber Christmas lighting contest.
• The Village Board approved the tax levy ordinance of $101,691.
• The Village Board appointed Cliff Bradley Jr. as a firefighter.
• The Village Board appointed part-time police officers Justin Baker and Seth Buch.
• The Village Board approved the 2017 meeting dates.
• The Village Board approved Christmas bonuses to 100 full-time and 50 part-time employees.
• Sutton noted that the Steeleville United Methodist Church will be having a free community breakfast on Dec. 17 from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
• Sutton also stated that medical insurance costs will rise 7 percent, but the village is sticking with Health Alliance as its provider.
"We had three other bids on it and Health Alliance was the lowest bidder," Sutton said.