Effingham Daily News
As far as the Effingham County Board is concerned, Effingham County State's Attorney Bryan Kibler can hire all the special assistants he wants as long as he stays within his budget.
The board voted 8-1 Tuesday in favor of a resolution allowing Kibler to appoint assistants without board approval. Kibler approached the board last week after attorneys for Kelci Niemerg objected to the pending appointment of former State's Attorney Ed Deters as a special assistant in the Niemerg case.
Niemerg, 25, is charged with aggravated battery to a child in connection with injuries suffered by Nathan Dill in the spring of 2011. Authorities allege Niemerg, who was caring for the infant, "slammed" the baby into a playpen, causing permanent injury.
Deters has been working on the case since Niemerg was charged in June 2011. Kibler has expressed a desire to use Deters in the Niemerg case because the former state's attorney has already read the hundreds of pages of medical records related to the case.
Kibler told the board common practice has been for elected officials to control their own personnel decisions with money allotted them by the board.
"We're just putting on paper what the practice has been in the county," Kibler said. "You guys set the line item and then you let the department heads hire.
"This resolution gives me blanket authority to hire who I see fit," Kibler added. "There's a vocal minority of people who say I don't have that authority. But you guys have never micro-managed departments before. This is a more efficient way to try the case."
Kibler said if he didn't hire Deters, it would likely take him six months or more to prepare for trial because of all the medical records involved.
"You are doing what we have empowered every other department head to do," said board member Rob Arnold.
Lloyd Foster was the only board member to vote against the resolution. Foster said after the meeting he felt like the decision to approve Deters' appointment should be left up to the trial judge, in this case Judge Kimberly Koester.
In other action Tuesday, the board unanimously approved a request by Sheriff John Monnet to fix the north sally port door between the jail and courts building. Altamont Overhead Door would replace the present door with a stronger door for $4,920, Monnet said.
The sheriff said a spring failed on the existing north door, forcing police to use the south door to drop off jail inmates and then back out onto a sometimes busy Jefferson Avenue. The north door opens onto a parking lot.
"My concern is that the south door will collapse and we won't be able to get in on either end," Monnet said.
The sheriff said the new door will be able to open and close 100,000 times. The current doors were only built for 20,000 "cycles," he said.
The board also agreed Tuesday to serve as the official recipient, or pass-through entity, for a $330,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation on behalf of Central Illinois Public Transit.
Central Illinois Public Transit, an arm of the CEFS social service agency, has been trying to bring full-fledged public transportation to the county for more than two years. IDOT originally denied CIPT's grant application, but later concurred with the agency's revised proposal.
Also Tuesday, the board agreed to vacate a city easement dating back from the 19th century around the old courthouse and pay Milano & Grunloh $750 for engineering work.
The city had originally had a 60-foot easement from the center of the road to allow courthouse users to park their horses and carriages outside. Board chairman Jim Niemann said the city will retain an easement near the sidewalk for utility purposes. But Niemann added vacating the easement will enable those wanting to use the courthouse square to only have to deal with the county.