MOUNT CARMEL — In Monday’s City Council Meeting Mount Carmel Mayor Joe Judge announced his proclamation of July 2 as Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

Judge’s move comes as law enforcement officers have been subjected to nationwide controversy amid protests after George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.

It is sparking police reform, as President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning choke holds when subduing a suspect — unless an officer’s life is in jeopardy — among other points to improve police transparency.

Judge’s proclamation reads:

Whereas, on July 2, 2020 the City of Mt. Carmel will show its appreciation to Law Enforcement Officers from Mt. Carmel Police Department, Wabash County Sheriff’s Department, and the Illinois State Police will unite in support of law enforcement officers to promote a Law Enforcement Appreciation Day; and

Whereas, 780,000 law enforcement officers across the country put on a badge not knowing what dangers they may face in the line of duty; and

Whereas, on average, between 105 and 203 officers die in the line of duty each year; 50,000 officers are assaulted in the line of duty each year; 14,000 officers are injured in the line of duty of each year; and over 300 officers commit suicide each year; and

Whereas, Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to defend the citizens against violent crime and work to keep our community safe; and

Whereas, Many law enforcement officers are community activists and role models for our youth; and

Whereas, The well-being of the City of Mt. Carmel and Wabash County residents is preserved and enhanced as a direct result of the vigilance of law enforcement officers; therefore be it

Resolved, That the Citizens of the City of Mt. Carmel and Wabash County honor local law enforcement officers for their dedication and hard work in protecting visitors to our community and city residents; and be it further

Resolved, that the citizens of Mt. Carmel and Wabash County recognize the sacrifice made by law enforcement officers and their families who have died in the line of duty; and

Now, Therefore, I Joseph Judge, Mayor of the City of Mt. Carmel, by virtue of the authority vested in me do hereby proclaim, July 2, 2020, as a Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 15th day of June, 2020.

Fantastic 4th Concert is on, per Judge

While Judge and city commissioners had doubted the ability to host a concert for the Fourth of July celebration, it sounds like the city will be proceeding with one after all.

“Based off of how well the concert went at Merchant’s Park and Harris Insurance Pavilion on Friday night, I’d like to move forward with this concert.” Judge stated.

They had agreed to a contract with Clayton Mann, a country singer from Nashville who’s scheduled to perform on Friday, July 3. According to Judge, Mann has ties to the area as well.

“We were excited to have him, we’ll have another opening band,” Judge added. We’ve actually had a couple people reach out to us. It’ll be similar to Friday night, a couple food vendors, things like that.”

The annual fish fry hosted at the Senior Center will remain on July 2, with Mann’s concert on Friday, and the fireworks rounding out the weekend on Saturday.

Water bill balances still have to be paid

Though the city ceased disconnections due to the COVID-19 debacle, City Commissioner Justin Dulgar and City Administrator Rudy Witsman reaffirmed in Monday’s meeting that all water bill balances must be paid.

The city’s leniency allowed for late, or partial payments due to the tough financial circumstances, but the balance has reportedly racked up considerably high.

There’s a reported $75,000 balance of unpaid bills. Due to that substantially high total, the city will be allowing residents to opt into a payment plan, if they elect to do so.

The payment plan would create a new account for the resident, and would distribute the balance into payments with a deadline of Sept. 7 for the balance to have been paid off by.

It’s important to remember, residents are still responsible for any current or coming bills as they continue to tackle the balance as well, and could face a shut off if they fail to keep current.

“A lot of other municipalities in our area didn’t work with people. They were shutting them off left and right.” Judge said.

Though Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker had signed an order for municipalities to cease shut offs during the crisis, Dulgar explained that the governor’s order of ceasing disconnections was in regards to for profit municipalities, which they are not. They did the temporary halt to let people get on their feet and not drown in the bills.

“You still owe that bill,” Witsman said. “We’re trying to give you a way to pay it back and not be a total hardship on you. Keep that in mind. Before that takes effect, you have to come tell us you want that payment plan, we can’t assume you want it, you have to come in, tell us,”

“We have a form here, we’ll brief you on it, then we’ll ask you to sign it. Please understand that if you take this payment plan and are still responsible for your current bill, you don’t want that one to fall behind. If you fall behind on that one, that means you’re going to get shut off. We’re trying to work with you and we ask that you work with us and pay your bill. You have until Sept. 7 to become current.”

There’s not a set deadline in place to opt into the payment plan, but residents are encouraged to do so as soon as possible if they’re interested.

Special liquor licensing for Starcade?

The Starcade, set to open in September seems to be targeting children as its primary clientele for the business, with the emphasis on the family friendly aspect.

Sam Case, owner of the Starcade, had expressed interest in hosting an adult’s night every once in a while, potentially once every other few weeks or such. To do so, Case would require a special liquor licensing that currently does not exist in city law.

The licensing Case had requested was to allow consumers to bring their own alcohol for these select nights, and had petitioned to Judge to bring the request to the council.

City Commissioner Eric Ikemire expressed concern from the feedback he’s received from other bars and restaurants in town, who worry of folks smuggling in alcohol elsewhere if passed, “It feels like it could become a real mess.” Ikemire said. Ikemire added that he felt it would be a situation incredibly difficult to monitor.

Judge, Dulgar, and City Commissioner Thomas Meeks also weighed in, expressing concern.

“If he was to do the adult night once a month, if you take the 60 dollars, times it by 12, it’s more than what the liquor license would actually cost.” Judge stated.

“I don’t think it’s a good combination anyway.” Dulgar replied.

Though Ikemire had said he’d refrain from a vote, the council elected to table the discussion on the matter.

Mount Carmel competing with Albion over census turnout

Albion Mayor Wesley Harris challenged Judge to a contest in regards to whose city can report the highest 2020 census turnout.

Judge reported Albion has had a 66.8% response rate thus far, while Mount Carmel sits at 63.2%.

While Judge joked that the bet might be for a steak dinner, his plea is a serious one. The census is important to help funding for various entities throughout Mount Carmel, such as Wabash General Hospital, the Health Department, Wabash 348 School District, and the city government itself.

“The census is a very important thing for our health department, the city, other entities, the hospital, the school district,” Judge explained. “It’s all funding, and that’s what they base the census off of. If you could, please. It takes 30 seconds to fill out the census online. If you come up to City Hall someone will help you fill it out to get it mailed in. We do ask for the best responding on the census that we can have.”

“Some of the funding that releases from the federal government that’s COVID related, they base off of the census,” Witsman added. That’s one of the reasons that it’s so important for us to encourage people to fill it out and send it in, it means money for the citizens, for the city government.”

Completing the census online takes under a minute. If you’re unable, Judge said to bring it to City Hall and they’d assist in the completion of the document.

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