ALTAMONT — Members of the Altamont City Council have approved the construction of an accessory structure behind the Whistle Stop Saloon.

A vote was delayed during the April 26 council meeting by Commissioner Tayler Polk, who thought due to the importance of the decision the council should wait until all council members were present. Dan Milleville and Todd Slingerland were absent from the April 26 meeting. All council members attended Monday’s meeting.

Mark Workman, owner of the Whistle Stop, wants to put up a structure similar to the one used by Pinky’s Restaurant at Lake Sara.

“It will be a Quonset hut canvas on 2-foot blocks and six-foot posts,” Workman said. “It will be 27.5 feet tall and 42 feet wide and 56 feet long.”

Milleville said he went to see for himself the location where Workman wanted the structure and had a few questions.

“Tell us about the 2-foot blocks,” Milleville asked. “Will these be solid blocks and will they be on both sides east and west?”

“Right at the back door (Whistle Stop Saloon) there will be an opening there, on the south end towards the bank there will be a 14-by-14-foot garage door and the front end will be open,” Workman said.

Workman wants to have fans to keep the air moving through the structure, and by fall he hopes to have rollers installed so he can bring his canvas down on the sides so he can close it off in the winter.

“Hopefully, I can get an extra month’s use out of it in the fall and the same thing in spring,” Workman said.

“I noticed on the variance permit the side setbacks were 4 feet on the sides. You wanted a zero on the north but then zoning went back to the 4-foot setback,” Milleville said. “I think that was a good idea because of that drop-off from the asphalt back to the sidewalk.”

Milleville asked Workman about a fence to be installed on the north side of the new structure.

Workman said he took down a fence in the same area when he repaved his parking lot and would like to have a fence with a gate for entry and exit.

“I think there should be a gate there for an emergency exit,” Mayor Jason Rippetoe said. “I think for emergency purposes being able to get people out is important.”

“Is this a temporary structure or is this something you want to leave there long term,” Polk asked Workman.

“Yes, I’m going to leave it there,” Workman said.

“Would you know the life expectancy on the structure?” Polk asked.

“It supposed to be guaranteed for 15 years,” Workman responded.

The council unanimously approved variances for an accessory structure with conditions set aside by the zoning board to be located behind the Whistle Stop Saloon in downtown Altamont.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Michael Walker said the SCADA system used by the electric department is out of date. The system is over 20 years old that monitors the Altamont electrical grid.

“It tells us when we’re online and offline and if we are producing what we should be. It is an overall monitoring system,” Walker said. “It still works. It’s still functioning. However, if anything were to go wrong with it, there is no fix for that system.”

Walker said some of the components of the system needed to be replaced before the system fails.

Altamont Electric Department Superintendent Dillon Meier told the council labor, hardware and miscellaneous equipment needed to upgrade the SCADA system is estimated at $22,000. He said they would also need two new computer towers at $1,600 each with up-to-date software and operating system to drive the system.

“You have to have everything compatible,” Walker said.

“What is status of the system now if you have a downed line?” Polk asked Meier.

“We have an autodialer connected to it in case one of our two breakers goes out,” Meier said.

Walker said he wanted the council to have a heads-up on the situation and a look at the cost of making upgrades to the system.

“If this system goes down tomorrow, we don’t have one,” Meier said.

“We should know more in coming weeks. We just don’t want to wait until our system goes down,” Walker said.

There was a discussion about the use of side-by-side vehicles within the city limits of Altamont. The discussion had been requested by Altamont resident Terry Plowman.

“I would say if it is approved we follow the same ordinances golf carts have to abide by,” Plowman said. “This is a chance for more revenue for the city because of the stickers the side-by-sides have to purchase.”

Plowman said there was concern about noise the side-by-sides make when in operation.

“They are about as loud as my truck driving down the road,” Plowman said. “I don’t think anyone who isn’t a licensed driver should be driving them and that should be the only way they get a sticker.”

“I disapprove of them because of the noise,” Altamont resident Gale Warner said.

Council members did not proceed with an ordinance that would allow side-by-sides to operate within the city. All council members remained silent when asked by the mayor if there was a motion to proceed.

In other matters, the council:

• Approved a change of orders to section A and B of water main improvements for U.S. Route 40 and Illinois 128.

• Approved an ordinance to continue legal council with Tracy Willenborg at Taylor Law Office.

• Approved an appointment ordinance to include current city supervisors, clerk and treasurer.

• Approved a request from Masonic Lodge 533 to conduct the Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 31, at 10 a.m.

• Approved to proceed with developing plans to install water service line on 450th street.

Charles Mills can be reached at charles.mills@effinghamdailynews.com or by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 126.

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Charles Mills is reporter and videographer for the Effingham Daily News. A 1983 graduate of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, he worked as senior video editor for a Nashville television station. He is a native of Vandalia.