During Friday's meeting of the Randolph County board, Kaskaskia Regional Port District General Manager Ed Weilbacher presented the final reimbursement check, worth $49,701.49, to the county for the entrance road at KRPD No. 2.
The entrance road project, which also provides for a wider turning radius onto State Route 154, had been in the planning stages since 2014, when Gateway FS decided to expand its dry fertilizer plant at KRPD No. 2 and create 14 new jobs in the process. Randolph County workers helped with the road's construction.
The $322,000 price of the road was combined with the $420,000 cost of a new 8-inch water line needed for the expansion in order to meet the EDA's minimum project requirement of $500,000.
Money for the project came from a combination of funds from the Illinois Department of Transportation, Economic Development Administration and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
While making the presentation, Weilbacher noted the difficulties of getting the Village of Baldwin, a federal agency and two state agencies to match each other. As a result, no local funding match was needed for the project.
"Gateway FS has spent a ton of money (to expand)," he said, noting that the project allows the company to be able to load a 75-ton truck with dry fertilizer in seven minutes.
Weilbacher also thanked Economic Development Coordinator Chris Martin and County Engineer Mike Riebling for their help in making the project a reality, as well as those who assisted with the road's construction.
"We have a very good road that should last for a long time to come," Weilbacher said. "The truck traffic in and out of the port is remarkable and is only going to increase."
In other port news, Weilbacher noted the KRPD had received a $15,000 planning grant (with no local match required) and tonnage on the Kaskaskia River has increased to 1.5 million.
The KRPD is the 73rd largest port and eighth largest inland port in the nation.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, the commissioners heard from Jennifer Duensing and Carol Kuntz of Les Amis du Fort de Chartres. The pair gave an update on the results of the recent Rendezvous at the fort, which was held June 3-4.
Duensing estimated that 18,000 people attended the two-day event, which racked up $30,000 in expenses. The Rendezvous was down $4,000 this year, which is an improvement from the $10,000 it lost in 2016.
"We feel that it's a very important event for the community, bringing in that many people," she said, noting that it helps teach the history of the fort to the public.
Duensing noted that organizers had to scale the event back in 2016 due to cost, but sponsorships have allowed Les Amis du Fort de Chartres to bring some of the entertainment back this year.
"We have raised enough in sponsorships to continue to offer the event," she said.
• County Engineer Mike Riebling noted that the Bluff Road resurfacing project has been paved, striped and had new shoulders installed. Only minor items need to be completed.
"For all intensive purposes, it's finished," he said.
Riebling added county workers are done with the first round of mowing and are busy cleaning ditches.
• Randolph County Health Department Interim Administrator Stephanie Martin stated she was happy to finally have a state budget. Currently, the only program under contract at the RCHD relates to genetics, with all other grants now up for application and renew.
"At the same time, we're looking for outside opportunities with federal grants in case the state finds itself in this position again," she said.
• General assistance for the period was $1,503.86. The Randolph County Care Center reported 72 residents.
• Randolph County Treasurer Justin Jeffers stated tax bills were mailed July 12, only six days behind schedule, and the first installment is due on Aug. 16, with the second on Sept. 15. The first distribution of the tax funds to various agencies will be the first part of September.