Prophetstown March City Council; No Change In Bar Hours

The Council approved the audit for the '20-'21 fiscal year that was delivered nine months late.
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In a turnaround in opinion from a discussion in their February Council meeting, a vote on an amendment to the city’s ordinance regarding extending the operating hours of local bars by one hour on Friday and Saturday nights died from a lack of a second at the March 14th meeting. In February a majority of the Council agreed to have the city attorney draft an ordinance that would extend bar operating hours from 1 to 2 AM on Friday and Saturday nights after a request from Corbin Anderson, owner of Cragel’s Bar. During discussion Councilmen John Gibson and Larry Dessing expressed their opposition to the extension saying they felt the change would just lead to additional problems. Police Chief Bruce Franks said he had polled other bar owners in the town who said they did not need the additional hour, adding that several close earlier than 1 AM if there is a lack of patrons. Mayor Steve Swanson suggested trying the extension for six months and reassess the change at that time. To end the discussion Councilman Greg Schmidt made a motion to adopt the ordinance but no other Councilman provided a second and therefore the motion died without a vote.


The board approved the long-delayed audit for fiscal year 2020-2021. The audit was delivered nine months late in November 2022 and was returned by the city citing various mistakes. The revised version of the audit was received at the beginning of March. City Atty. Tim Zollinger said the audit found no serious issues but did recommend some policy changes in regard to management control, which he said can easily be resolved by adopting some modified policies. The audit also cited an issue with internal controls, which is a common occurrence with small town municipalities due to the lack of staff. The Council approved the audit which will now be filed with the state. It is uncertain what, if any penalties will be assessed to the city due to the delay in filing.

The audit for fiscal year 2021-2022 was due last month with the Council hopeful that audit will be received in the near future. The audit was prepared by Lauterbach and Amen which was their first audit for the city since taking over from Gerry Halpin & Co. CPAs.

Speed Limit Amended

The Council amended a change in the speed limit on Star Road from Washington Street to the eastern city limits. Last month the council agreed to set the speed limit at 30 mph for the entire stretch but after receiving input from various sources an amendment to the ordinance was approved. The Council agreed to set the speed limit at 30 mph from Washington Street to the eastern side of the Coon Creek at Lyndon Road and then increase the limit to 40 mph from there to the city limits. The ordinance will be formally adopted at the April meeting. Enforcement will not begin until the new signs are erected.

Council Action

Mike Chastain with Winning Wheels asked for permission to hold the facility’s annual concert series at Eclipse Square Veterans Memorial Park starting on Friday, June 2 running through August 13. His request was approved.

Approved a donation of $10,000 to Prophetstown Proud for the purchase of a new electronic sign to be installed in Eclipse Square Veterans Memorial Park. The total cost of the sign is $40,000 with the Moore Foundation donating $20,000 towards the project. The sign will be 7’3″ long by 3’5″ high and will be mounted on an 8 foot pole. The sign will be controlled by wireless access with various city department heads using logins to update the sign. Councilman John Gibson suggested that guidelines be developed for the type of messages that can be displayed. Dirks said messages will be limited to those involving city business and events.

Approved a quote of $58,620 for a new pump and check valves for the Locust Street lift station to replace a motor that was damaged.

Sewer Backup Claims

Larry DeNeve who owns a property at 117 Birch St., asked the city to consider some type of reimbursement for the property owners that suffered damage in their homes due to a sanitary sewer backup on February 9th. Public works crews responded to the call for a sewer backup on the street and found a large mass of sanitary wipes and other materials had plugged the line causing a backup into four homes.

DeNeve said he met with the city’s insurance representative who denied all claims submitted. DeNeve said, “It is quite evident that the city sewer line cannot handle the volume and the type of material that we have in our society today”, referring to the type of wipes and other sanitary products that people flush into the system. He added that the city should feel some responsibility for their citizens and asked the Council to consider some form of remediation to the property owners. Several of the homeowners had to pay several thousand dollars for cleanup and repair of damage done.

Jeff and Michelle Johnson, who live at 123 Birch Street, also spoke about the damage done to their split level home. The backup rendered the lower level of their home uninhabitable and they are currently making repairs. Neither DeNeve or Johnson’s had the type of insurance to cover the damage.

DeNeve said he is convinced there is the defect in the line causing materials to get caught although there has been no reported backups on the street since 2008. Swanson said the city will hire a crew to inspect the line with video cameras to try and determine if a problem exists. Swanson added that the Council will discuss the matter further.

Property Issues

The Council heard from Public Works Director, Brian Strike about ongoing problems with three properties that have been cited for ordinance violations involving trash around the properties. 506 Locust, 807 Jackson, 212 Douglas have all been cited multiple times for violations. City Attorney, Tim Zollinger was asked to start abandonment procedures on 506 Locust for failure to pay taxes for three years. Liens will be filed against the other two properties for failure to respond to city ordinance violations.

Department Reports

Public Works – Dir. Brian Strike

The construction for the new water plant in the area of Jackson Street and Buttercup Ln. near Jaycee Park has begun. The park will be closed until the construction is completed.

Residents will be able to register and pick up their permits for golf carts and UTVs at the public works garage on E. Railroad St. on Saturday, April 1 from 8 AM – Noon.

Police – Chief, Bruce Franks

Council approved the purchase of two E./O Tech Scopes and Magnifiers for the department’s rifles at a cost of $1,648.

Henry C. Adams Library – Board Member, Heather Strike
She distributed the library’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year. She said the issue of trying to replace/repair the elevator is ongoing and that architects did come to take measurements to help decide if a new elevator could be installed in the current elevator space.
The story and craft hour that have been held monthly on Saturdays has gone over extremely well with up to 50 children attending. Other upcoming events include a bird feeder giveaway, a recycling workshop, and preparing for the summer reading program. The facility has installed a new security system following the break-in last winter.

Complete Department Reports

Informational Items

Mayor Swanson postponed an executive session to discuss the possible purchase of property owned on the western edge of the city owned by Gerry Halpin for possible use as a light industrial park. Councilman Baker and Hovey were absent from the meeting with Swanson saying he would like the full Council present for the discussion. Swanson did comment that the site is just under 10 acres and that the sanitary sewer lift station located on Grove Street across from the property would be able to handle the additional wastewater.

Mayor Steve Swanson sent Strada Communications, the company which is bringing fiber Internet to Prophetstown, has encountered a problem getting their line across the Rock River along Highway 78. He said, ComEd has denied Strada access to their towers and that IDOT is opposed to having the cable attached to the Highway 78 bridge. Swanson said he would be in contact with various entities to get the issue resolved. He added that one option would be to go across the Historic Lyndon Bridge.

Public Comment

Keith Crady, a trustee for the Prophetstown Fire Protection District, spoke to the Council explaining why the district is asking for a tax increase in the upcoming April 4 election. There will be two issues on the ballot one for the fire service and one for the ambulance service. Approval of the measures would allow the district to increase the tax levy by .1% for the fire service and .15% for the ambulance service. He cited decreasing payments on Medicare and Medicaid claims for the ambulance service while costs to run the service continue to increase. The fire service is also struggling to keep up with increasing costs of equipment. Crady said the district has attended many meetings and had contact with legislators but have not been able to acquire additional funds.

Building Permits

City of Prophetstown – 100 Sunset Lane New Water Treatment Plan Well # 5, $5.6 Million

Walter Holmberg – 917 Washington St. Reroofing, $5,700.00

Genesis III – 5575 Lyndon Rd 50′ x 80 ‘ Concrete pad and Accu-steel Prefab Building, $150,000

Dan Luhrsen – Lot 4 Sunset Acres New Construction Home, $250,000

The next regular Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 11th at 7:00 PM.

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