By TESA GLASS
MT. VERNON — —
Rumors that a national home improvement chain store was denied building applications or the opportunity to build in the city were denied Monday after a resident asked for an explanation from the city.
"Yes, there was a rumor going around that they didn't like the standards we had in that area and the reason they didn't move forward with building was because they thought it was too strict," Mayor Mary Jane Chesley said. "... That is totally untrue."
Resident James Harris said he wanted to know why Menard's was denied a right to build a store in Mt. Vernon, and he had heard the city wouldn't approve the plans submitted by the company.
"They did not send any building plans to the city," City Manager Ron Neibert said. "It was around the time of the fiscal cliff and they announced nationally they were suspending all projects at the national level. They made no formal applications to the city for any review and were not turned down. We would love to have Menard's come to the city and would love for them to submit a formal plan to us.
"We welcome projects," Neibert continued. "Think about it, we incentivize projects, like the Drury, and then not work with Menard's? That doesn't make sense and it's not true."
Harris said he likes to shop at Menard's and knows the company is under construction in St. Clair County. Chesley said the company is building in the Green Mount Road area of that county.
"In our area, they would have been constructing under the same standards they are constructing under on Green Mount," Chesley said.
Councilman David Wood added, the building plans for Menard's "definitely would have been approved if an application had been put through."
In business conducted Monday by the council, an agreement with BHMG Service for an electronic monitoring system for the water tanks in the city at a cost of $18,000 was approved.
"This is going to upgrade our tank monitoring system, which was last installed in the 1930s," Neibert said. "Right now we have a hard wired system with graph paper and ink in the fire department. It is well outdated, and no longer serves our purpose. ... We can't even get parts for it anymore."
The new system will allow the Public Utilities Department to monitor all tanks via the Internet, and supervisors will be notified by telephone if water levels or pressures fall below a pre-set point.
"We will be able to get out and address those problems right away," Neibert said.
The council honored the Mt. Vernon Police Department Officer of the Year, Sgt. Roger Hayse, and presented former State Sen. John O. Jones with a resolution of appreciation for his years serving as a senator and a state representative.
"I just did my job, and hopefully to the satisfaction of the citizens of the district," Jones said. "If 40 or 50 years ago someone would have said John O. Jones would be a state representative some day or a senator, they would have laughed at you. There is a group in Jefferson County that is collecting money and putting up signs where all the one-room country schools used to be. I contributed to them the other day. I went to a one-room school, and have seen so many changes."
Jones said he considered it an honor to receive the recognition from the council.
"Hopefully, people think I did a great job while I was in there," Jones said. "I was able to follow behind someone who also did a lot of good for this area, and that's Bill O'Daniel. He was a friend before we ran against each other 10 years ago, and he's still a friend of mine. He did a great deal for this area."
The resolution, read by Chesley, thanked Jones for his personal commitment to the city and residents, showing "true caring and concern" while assisting in getting state funding for the Exit 94 interstate exit and overpass, the overlay for Shiloh Drive, the new North Davidson/Veterans Memorial Drive extensions and assisted in seeking state funding for the $224 million Continental Tire the Americas expansion, which resulted in more than 440 jobs in the city.
"He has shown a sincere interest in the city of Mt. Vernon and the region," Chesley said. "We thank and honor him for his numerous contributions which make Mt. Vernon a better place to live."