In Watseka

Abandoned properties in Watseka were discussed at Tuesday’s public safety committee meeting.

Aldermen heard from Chief Jeremy Douglas who said his officers have cleared the properties at 445 E. Walnut and a garage in the alley off Oak of people who are not supposed to be there.

“We had to go back a couple of times and ran off people we found who were not supposed to be inside,” he said.

“With the weather getting a little colder we’ve had a number of cases where some of the other abandoned houses we’ve found people squatting in them,” he said. “We’ve been taking them to jail and running them off. They are I-bonding out. They are getting out as soon as we take them to jail. I’m not asking you guys what you want us to do I’m just telling you we are keeping an eye on these houses.

“Some of these houses, though, we’ve got to really take precautions when we send those officers in there at different times of night,” he said. “Some of these houses the floors are falling through. There’s animal feces in there. We don’t know what we’re walking into sometimes. We are staying on top of them so please bear with us as we continue to do what we can to keep these properties in line as much as we can.”

Douglas told the aldermen he has another officer going to Illinois Law Enforcement Association training for mobile team task force training. That four-day course will allow the officers who take the training to be part of the task force in case riots or other incidents occur around the state.

“They’ve been activated over the last 60 days,” Douglas said, noting that the Watseka department has not had anyone to send as yet. He said with elections and other issues going on there is a possibility that the task force will be activated again.

Other training the officers have received include Narcan recertification, blood borne pathogens, and other online classes.

In another matter, public works director Marvin DeLahr said the fire station two building has a drainage issue in the parking lot, which he said has been happening for a while. “Chief (Tim) Ketchum brought it up to me again recently,” he said. “There is a solution to the problem. The city will be getting the lot to the sat of the fire station through the IDNR flood mitigation grant. At that time we can install storm sewer east from the parking lot to an existing storm sewer located on Virginia Avenue. There approximate cost to do this will be around $1,600.

“I was asked to look at the roof of the storage building to the north of fire station 2. There is a support beam inside that sits on top of vertical columns. The east most section of that bean has brook and the ceiling and roof are sagging quite a bit. The rest of the bean is not broken but is bowing between the columns.

“It’s my understanding that there is an old flat roof under the pitched roof that is on the building. I believe the entire roof structure is failing. I would estimate a complete roof removal and replacement to be in the $20,000 to $30,000 range.”

Douglas read a letter from building inspector Eric Brandt about the old auxiliary building. Brandt said there is a lot of structural damage to the building.

Alderman Dennis Cahoe said the building should be torn down. Discussion was conducted about where fire department equipment currently being stored in the building can be stored.

Alderman Mark Garfield said the building has been in bad shape for a long time, including when the auxiliary police used to meet there.

The committee agreed to look at the matter and work toward getting the building torn down.