Danville Fire Department

DANVILLE — The Danville City Council Tuesday night, with a 12-0 vote, approved purchasing a new radio system for the fire department that will replace “outdated and obsolete” equipment, according to Fire Chief Don McMasters.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Brenda Brown was absent and no appointment has been made yet to fill the vacated seat in Ward 6 after Aaron Troglia moved out of the ward.

The cost is $331,946 for five simulcast repeater sites on towers in the city, 50 handheld portable radios, 20 mobile radios, three base radios, all necessary supporting components and a five-year maintenance agreement from Supreme Radio Communications Inc.

McMasters said the cost likely will come down about $2,500 due to a couple fewer needed pieces of equipment.

The city only received one bid, and estimates had been $310,000 to $325,000, according to McMasters.

Funding comes from the city’s general fund reserves.

McMasters said the city sought financial assistance through the Vermilion County Emergency Management System and also grants through other organizations to help with the cost, but was told “no.”

“This will get us off of an island by ourselves, so we will be on the same type of frequency as the police department, the local ambulance services and all the county fire departments. It is obviously a much more up-to-date and more electronically advanced system than what we have now,” McMasters said.

He said the fire department now has one repeater site in the city, and at an extreme distance, the signal can get lost. The new system has five repeater sites.

McMasters said they’ve been working more than six months without a second working channel.

Delivery on the radio system is estimated in eight to 12 weeks due to the chip shortage.

“This is a pretty hefty amount,” said Ward 2 Alderman Rick Strebing.

McMasters said the newer, more up-to-date system will maintain the same things the fire department has had in the past.

In other fire department news, it had a couple recent hazardous materials spill calls at Viscofan and the Danville Correctional Center. The fire department is seeking $5,400 back from Viscofan from a July 9 incident; and white powder was tested in an envelope in which two employees were exposed to at the prison. McMasters said the FBI got involved with the powder at the prison, which was not biological, but officials were waiting on full testing. McMasters said prison employees didn’t open another envelope received for the same prisoner.

The fire department also has started training for investigating fires in electric cars.

Air conditioning is working again at city hall. Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. said last week they are no longer under warranty on the system, after having just paid it off, and someone is looking into the cause of recurring problems.

In other business Tuesday night, the city council:

  • Learned about the city’s new website at cityofdanville.org. The new site tries to create a platform to allow visitors quick and easy access to the information they’re seeking, with as few clicks as possible to pages. It includes a search icon, residential address lookup for information and “I want to...” to find information someone seeks.
  • Heard Mayor Williams is part of the Edgar Fellows five-day program at the University of Illinois. It focuses on leadership and governing.
  • Heard Vice Mayor Bob Iverson about Vermilion County’s low COVID-19 vaccination rate. He said residents help each other with fundraisers and in other ways, but dropped the ball on being vaccinated. He said residents should get the COVID-19 vaccine for the sake of others, including children who can’t right now and those with medical conditions.
  • Was introduced to the new assistant corporation counsel Amanda Mank. She will handle ordinance violations and small claims court cases and real estate matters, such as demolitions and the city’s side lot program.
  • Amended the wage administration chart: setting a $55,000 salary for the new Community Relations Administrator position; changed the golf course manager salary for new manager Jim DePratt to $42,000 (it was $61,200), with a range of $40,000 for base, $48,000 for mid-point and $56,000 for maximum; setting salary at $75,000 for assistant corporation counsel; and setting salary at $48,000 for executive assistant to the mayor (it was $49,777)
  • Heard a David S. Palmer Arena update from board chairman John Spezia.
  • Amended city code to not include all information the city previously supplied in meeting packets about why uncollectable accounts receivable are written off. The city will still keep that information, but the public would have to file a Freedom of Information Act request to receive it. Mayor Williams said this also will disincentivize neighbors from letting their properties go and not pay fines. The changes also have certain write-off amounts to be approved by the comptroller, co-signed by the mayor, or going to the city council.
  • Authorized execution of the American Rescue Plan Act Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund Award terms and conditions. City Comptroller Ashlyn Massey said the city could receive its first distribution in 30 days.
  • Authorized an agreement for provision of electricity for city-owned buildings and facilities; and authorizing agreement for gas supply with Good Energy.
  • Heard from Jill Byerly Smalley on behalf of her niece, regarding The Big Easy of Danville restaurant (formerly the Knights of Columbus) and requesting the city look at business categories for video gaming licenses to increase them to businesses. The Big Easy’s state gaming license is still pending from February. Smalley said they want fairness.

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