Newton Council last week learned about potential funding for future city projects and scratched a request for allowing chickens in city limits.

John Stone of Connor and Connor Engineers detailed during the May 5 meeting the potential grants being offered through the Illinois Department of Transportation as part of the REBUILD Illinois program. Stone said two allotments will be available annually for three years based on population of communities, based on the formula for Motor Fuel Tax disbursements. Stone emphasized these grants are not MFT funds because they can be using for construction expenses related to public infrastructure and transportation improvement.

The REBUILD Illinois grants will considered during a meeting of the City Council Street Committee

Police Chief Mike Swick reminded council members the Citywide Clean-Up would start Friday, May 15, and continue Saturday May. 16. The collection point will be north of Newton City Hall with the entrance on Marion Street by the Street Department. Residents need to remember the city will not take electronic items this year. Swick added Jasper County will have an electronic items collection on Aug. 29.

City Council member Marlene Harris relayed a question from city residents about having chickens in the city. It was confirmed by board members the Revised City Code of Ordinances does not allow live chickens in town. But there is no ordinance against frozen, roasted, barbecued, broiled, pan fried or baked chickens.

Rob Reisner said the public distribution of locally made hand sanitizer proved a good and popular idea. Like some items during the Coronavirus Pandemic, hand sanitizer has disappeared from retail shelves. But it is considered a necessity to keep hands clean if the opportunity is not available for washing hands with soap and water. Cleaning of hands is considered an effective way to prevent the spread of the virus.

Larry Brooks said work could proceed with city employees on a water tower barrier. City employees will check into a water problem with the Dollar General detention pond, mentioned by Gayle Glumac. Eric Blake said a review was needed of the intergovernmental agreements on animal control, which Dave Brown supported.

In his remarks, Mayor Mark Bolander said some local businesses are requiring the wearing of masks and he asked the public to be respectful of that requirement relating to COVID-19 safety. He also mentioned thank-you correspondence for city support offered to the CEO program, Jasper County Cancer Support Group and the Jasper County Home Front.

The council also approved a $17,870 purchase order for two transformers from Dakota Diamond Transformers. The council has previously approved the purchase. Another purchase order was accepted for $12,078 from Alliance Tractor LLC for a John Deere 1025R Sub Compact Tractor with 60-inch mid mount mower deck. The equipment will be used by the Newton Park Department.

It was decided to hold the May 19 meeting again in the Police Garage at City Hall to ensure social distancing for council members and any others attending the meeting. Most council members preferred that option over holding a meeting through a Zoom electronic connection.

The council met in closed session to discuss litigation and land purchases. No action was taken after the council returned to open session. The council then adjourned.