DANVILLE — Almost five months after Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. became mayor, his Ward 1 alderman replacement was sworn in at Tuesday night’s Danville City Council meeting.

Robert T. Williams, 77, of 418 N. Collett St., will fill Williams' remaining two years on his term. Williams is of no relation to the mayor.

Robert Williams said he’s “very excited,” to join the council.

“I’m looking forward to serving,” Robert Williams said.

He’d been considered for an open alderman seat in the past and said he follows city council action.

Early in the city council meeting, prior to his swearing in, he had a question about security for the casino project. Mayor Williams said there are state requirements and the casino is heavily regulated. Security would be the responsibility of Haven Gaming LLC.

Robert Williams was born in Danville and has lived in Ward 1 all of his life except for his time away at college and in the military. He has been married to Wilma (Curtis) Williams for 54 years, and they have four adult children: Mori, Lori, Jeff and Angela.

He graduated from Collett School and Danville High School, and later graduated with an Associate of Arts from Danville Area Community College, where he played on the baseball team. He then transferred to Southern Illinois University for a year and a half, where he majored in Political Science.

He left school due to a lack of funds and served in the Army, attending both Finance and Personnel Management Schools. Upon honorable discharge at the rank of E5, he returned to Danville. He then worked as a Medical Administration Officer at the Veterans Affairs Illiana HealthCare System for more than 14 years before retiring for a second career at Quaker Oats, where he retired in 2014.

Throughout his life, he has been a member of the NAACP, Disabled American Veterans, was a past Master of the Masonic Corinthian Lodge 3 and a Past Commander of the American Legion Post 736.

Also sworn in Tuesday night was Charles Mockbee IV as the city’s new corporation counsel, effective Oct. 23. Mockbee replaces Dave Wesner.

Mayor Williams thanked Wesner for his approximately 22 years of service to the city, and said that Mockbee will be working with Wesner to transition into the role. Mayor Williams said Mockbee is “very competent and very capable” and will “do his best for the city of Danville.”

Mockbee said he appreciates the opportunity and to be a part of the city team. He’s looking to help move Danville forward.

In other business Tuesday, the city council voted 5-7 against amending city code pertaining to fire prevention to charge fees for business inspections by the fire department. Aldermen voting “yes” for the amendment were Sherry Pickering, Bob Iverson, Sharon McMahon, Brenda Brown and R. J. Davis. Those voting “no” were Aaron Troglia, Rick Strebing, Mike Puhr, Steve Foster, Dan Duncheon, Steve Nichols and Tom Stone.

The proposed fees for the annual inspections were: $35 for a business whose square footage is 0-10,000 square feet, $50 for 10,001-100,000 square feet, $75 for 100,001-250,000 square feet and $100 for square footage greater than 250,000. 

Some of the aldermen didn’t agree with taxing businesses more.

“We’ve got the money to pay for this,” Nichols said.

The fire department has always had the inspection program in place, but due to command structure changes, follow-ups and repairs and other items didn’t get completed with the inspections, said Interim Fire Chief Don McMasters.

Brown said she supported having someone instead of a lieutenant complete the inspections.

This was a last-ditch effort of coming up with revenues to offset the cost for another full-time position for these inspections, McMasters said.

Mayor Williams said the program must be figured out either way, but he doesn’t support an additional position. If anything, maybe they could hire back, Williams said.

Also Tuesday, the council members:

• Heard from Vermilion County Board member Phearn Butler who has started a petition to have the county board meeting room named after former 35-year board member Ivadale Foster. Foster died at age 93 in 2015. Butler asked for help in reaching the 500 signatures needed of Vermilion County residents, age 18 years and older.

• Authorized an intergovernmental agreement with the city of Champaign for purchasing four safety escape packs for the fire department for $3,800. The value is believed to be around $35,000.

• Authorized the write-off of $27,806 in delinquent garbage, sewer and public safety pension fee accounts for the Vermilion County Trustee delinquent tax sale for 65 addresses.

• Approved memorandums of understanding between the Danville Police Department and Housing Authority of the City of Danville and also Meglei Management Corporation’s Green Meadows Apartments for police services.

• Approved a sublease agreement with the Danville Public Building Commission for operations and maintenance of the Public Safety Building.

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