Amboy citizens voice concerns over lack of police presence

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AMBOY — Amboy Mayor John Schamberger tapped his gavel and called the city council meeting to order on Jan. 16. Under Committee Reports, Second Ward Alderman Brandon Klein who heads up the Community Building Commission, said that a new toilet was put in the woman’s bathroom. Dave Shaw, Third Ward Alderman and part of the Depot Commission stated that the next meeting will take place on March 28. The mayor encouraged everyone present to get on the Depot newsletter mailing list that provides a lot of news and interesting history. First Ward Alderman Jake Leffelman shared that the library has begun their Lego Club, and Junior Crafts Club, and has given the website an update and refresh. Public Works Director Jeramey Wittenauer informed the council that two new mowers for use in the parks have been delivered. 

As the meeting moved to the “Concerns from the Audience” portion, Amboy resident Karen Bodmer got up and voiced her concerns about the lack of police coverage as a result of the resignation of Sergeant Terry Lester, who is now on the Oregon Police Department. As a result, there are currently approximately four part-time officers in the department, including Tom Lahman who was welcomed back on a part-time basis. Bodmer asked the Mayor “where are we at and where are we going as a city.” 

“There has been scuttlebutt on the street that we might lose our police force to the county which none of us wants to see happen,” she said. 

Schamberger very emphatically stated there has never been any discussion of turning over the department. 

“Karen, let me make it clear that that’s never going to happen,” Schamberger said. 

Jared Grossman expressed similar concerns and wondered what is currently being done. Again, Schamberger explained that advertising for a full-time Police Officer is underway. He went on to say that it has been difficult the last two to three years trying to get the positions filled. A Police Commission has been created to further look into ways to persuade officers to work in Amboy. Some suggestions were a signing bonus and benefits package.  

Under New Business, Darin Stykel, a Projects Manager with the Engineering and Environmental firm Fehr Graham, gave a presentation on the Illinois state mandate that eventually all residential lead water service lines be converted to plastic. The city hired Fehr Graham to perform the project plan at a cost of $75,000. Stykel talked about a low interest loan with the potential of 100 percent forgiveness including the $75,000 fee, if Amboy can qualify. He noted that time is of the essence and encouraged the city to allow the firm to proceed with the loan application before funding starts to dwindle. Currently, cities and towns can qualify for up to $4 million in funds. Under advisement from City Attorney Matt Keegan who was present, he suggested that the council should hold a special meeting to discuss strategy and costs moving forward. Keegan stated that as a result of the new law, the state has towns and cities ‘over a barrel’ with no choice but to comply.  

The Biogas Project was briefly discussed and Keegan said that zoning needs to be the number one priority before moving forward. The meeting was adjourned after the news that Republic Trash Service will be increasing their monthly fee from $14.61 to $15.26 with steadily increasing prices over the next 10 years.