The Chester Police Department will have a few new faces patrolling the streets in the future.
Responding to a request from Police Chief Ryan Coffey, the Chester City Council approved part-time police officers Caleb Golding, Jeff Hammel and Zane Wallace during the council's Monday meeting.
"Man hours," Coffey said in an interview after the council meeting, when asked what the three will add to the department. "We're in a position where we have trouble keeping our staffing levels up where they need to be and I think, two, not to diminish the quality of people we're hiring, but I think we're lucky.
"I think all three of these guys will be assets."
Golding and Wallace are also on the CPD's full-time eligibility list. Interested applicants to that list go through an extensive background check, testing process and interview and receive scores for both the interview and written examination.
Those scores are then tabulated and applicants are placed on the eligibility list based on their scores.
"With part-time, it's a little different," Coffey said. "They can work and will work prior to the police academy and the next available police academy is in 2018."
Coffey noted that he was told that a part-time police academy would not be held in the second half of this year due to curriculum changes.
"We have slots set for them in the police academy," Coffey said. "Tentatively for the 2018 schedule."
Coffey added that the trio will start in the CPD's field training officer program right away and would probably work in a limited role in a few months.
"I think their level of interest," Coffey said on what stood out about the trio. "All three have shown an interest for some time now and then demonstrated that by participating in our ride-along program, which is voluntary."
Coffey noted that the ride-along program is nice on a recruitment standpoint because current officers get a chance to know the interested individual.
"They're spending time in the car together, so you're going to get to know one another," he said.
In other news, the council heard from the city's engineer, Harold Sheffer, on the resurfacing project on Buena Vista Street.
Sheffer noted that Red Dot Construction was the low bidder on the project, with a bid of $935,607.97. That's below the engineer's estimate of $1,060,000.
With IDOT advising of a work stoppage starting July 1 unless a state budget is approved, Sheffer said he wasn't sure what the state would do with the Buena Vista project.
"We're not sure if they're going to award it and then hold onto it or hold onto it until funds are appropriated," he said.
Chester Mayor Tom Page appeared to censor his response.
"Good ol' State of Illinois," he said.
During the correspondence portion of the agenda, Page said he had received a letter from Chester Recreation Director Patti Carter about the Chester Fire Department "spraying kids down at the park" for an hour once a week.
"We have nothing to do for these kids in town who don't play ball," said Alderman Mike Blechle. "This would be something for all ages."
The day after the meeting, Carter issued a news release that advised a "Water Blast" event would take place every Thursday at Cole Park from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. starting July 6 through Aug. 10.
The event is free and open to everyone.
• In his report to the council, Page said he had a meeting at the Menard Correctional Center, which included Chester Water Plant Superintendent Tim Crow and City Clerk Bethany Berner, to discuss water rates. He noted that he was satisfied with the outcome of that meeting.
• City Attorney Jeff Kerkhover noted that the city would publish notices of property for sale after getting the council's approval. There are some vacant, city-owned lots that the city is looking at selling off.
• Alderman Donnie Clark noted that the fence repair at Cohen Field No. 2 would take place either the first or second week of July.
• The council approved an ordinance authorizing the execution of an agreement to amend an agreement with the Village of Ellis Grove regarding water rates. Kerkhover noted that Ellis Grove has already approved and passed its portion of the agreement.
• The council approved the proposed budget and statement of estimated income for fiscal year 2018.
• The council approved the preparation of the appropriation ordinance and set a hearing date for July 17 at 5:30 p.m.
• The council later entered executive session to discuss a personnel matter. No action was taken after executive session.