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James Maes joins Chester city council as new 2nd ward alderman

  • James D. Maes receives the oath of office from City Clerk Bethany Berner.

    James D. Maes receives the oath of office from City Clerk Bethany Berner.
    Don Berry photo

  • New full time police officer Jeff Hammel with Chief Bobby Helmers.

    New full time police officer Jeff Hammel with Chief Bobby Helmers.
    Don Berry photo

By Don Berry
Contributing writer
updated: 11/6/2019 10:58 AM

Chester's Ward 2 has full aldermanic representation again now that James D. Maes was sworn into office on Monday.

Mayor Tom Page said he had received several suggestions and talked to a few worthy candidates but felt that James D. Maes was the best person for the position. The Council agreed with his appointment and gave their approval.

City Clerk Bethany Berner administered the oath of office for Maes and he will begin serving immediately with his first meeting being Nov. 18. Maes fills the vacancy caused by the resignation of Scott Stumpe. Page spoke highly of Maes' character and said he looks forward to working with him in the future.

Officer now full-time

Part-time police officer Jeff Hammel has been elevated to a new full-time position, retroactive to Nov. 1. The council ratified the promotion on Monday, and then welcomed Hammel to full-time status with the Chester Department.

Meanwhile, Chester Police Chief Robert Helmers said he has gotten some interest for part-time positions, since he has been able to look outside of Chester for candidates. He said he has three candidates he will bring before the council soon for approval.

Fire dept. news

• The council transferred $100,000 from the General Fund and $461,000 from the Natural Gas Fund to the Fire Protection Fund to cover the cost of the new pumper truck for the fire department.

• Fire Chief Marty Bert reported the yearly total of fire calls is 58 so far, less than in previous years. He believes public education on fire safety has helped, saying the department is currently conducting classes for the elementary schools to learn more about the subject.

• The department has purchased an all-terrain Polaris vehicle. Bert said there are many times when his department is called out to areas where the large trucks cannot go and the utility vehicle will assist them. The cost was paid by revenue received from rural fire insurance payments which the department has built up.

Other news

• City Attorney Jeff Kerkhover reminded the council that the 2020 property tax levy must be submitted before the last Tuesday of December. Through the levy, the city is wanting to collect $901,669.40 in 2020, an increase of 4.99% over the 2019 levy.

• The council approved $18,000 to install an irrigation system at Cohen Fields, which was requested by Park Superintendent Billy Belton. Belton said he looked at several systems and while most of them come at a cost in $40,000 range, he believes that using city employees will cut the price in half. Alderman Ray Allison asked why this was not installed when work was done on the fields earlier. Belton said that would have been ideal but that was before he was employed. The council approved the $18,000 project with Allison voting "nay."

Council approvals

• Having RP Coatings conduct leak repairs and coat the floor and walls of Lift Station #1 for $22,700.

• A new 36-month contract with Clear Wave for phone and internet service at the sewer plant.

• Having the city clerk open a new bank account to process Health Reimbursement Account payments using Integra Flex and giving Integra Flex authorization to issue health insurance claim payments.

• The next meeting of the city council will be at 6 p.m. Nov. 18.