Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

July 3, 2014

Council debates public comment restrictions

(Continued)

The policy, reviewed and passed by the council in previous years, was based off of legal cases dealing with public participation, said Willenborg.

She reiterated that having inconsistent testimony to the council could lead to litigation.

“Are we opening ourselves up to that now?” asked Milleville. “At what point do we run afoul with the Open Meetings Act?”

Willenborg said emphatically the council isn’t going against the Open Meetings Act, which regulates various procedures at governmental meetings.

“You aren’t doing that because it (the Open Meetings Act) says you have to allow public comment, but you can place reasonable restrictions on it,” she said.

The restrictions help limit meeting times and redundant testimony by the public, said Gillenwater.

However, Gillenwater said he would consider revisions to the existing policy.

“Maybe we need to look at this,” he said.

Milleville volunteered to write up a proposal for changes to the existing protocol and will bring that revision before the board a a later date.

In other news, the council:

• Approved a partnership between the City of Effingham, Lake Land College and Effingham School District to provide $120,000 to purchase lab equipment, which would train high school students and adults in the manufacturing fields.

Effingham Unit 40 is making a dual-credit Manufacturing Skills class available in the upcoming school year that will provide instruction in robotics, pneumatics, electronics and hydraulics to EHS Seniors.

The council heard from LLC Vice President of Academic Resources Jim Hull at last month’s meeting that area manufacturers are looking to hire high school graduates with basic manufacturing skills.

LLC is providing the curriculum and Unit 40 is providing the instructor.

• Approved a $75,000 job creation grant for Versatech, which will help facilitate the creation of 20 jobs in Effingham. Owner Joe Forbes went before the council at a recent meeting and provided information about the rapid growth at the auto parts manufacturing company.

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