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MURPHYSBORO — It appears Mayor Will Stephens is close to making a deal to fill a vacant building in the center of town.

On Tuesday’s City Council agenda, there is an item set to be addressed in executive session to buy the former Curwood Plant building on North 19th Street from the Bemis Corporation of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for $1. Then, the city would adopt a resolution to deed the property to Solar Alliance of Vancouver, Canada.

The tentative plan is for Solar Alliance to put a solar array on the northern end of the property. Additionally, Stephens said Solar Alliance has other partners that are not in the solar business that may want to relocate to the former plant.

None of the details were final as of Monday afternoon. Stephens said the city has principal agreements with Bemis and Solar Alliance, but both companies are still reviewing the legal terms of agreement and have not signed off on the deal.

If the deal is not complete by Tuesday’s meeting, Stephens said he expects the council will call a special meeting between then and the next meeting to approve the deal.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, Holiday Inn Express developer Joe Koppeis is scheduled to make an announcement about additional developments at the corner of Illinois 13 and 127. At the most recent meeting, Koppeis was scheduled to attend, but personal conflicts prevented him from doing so. Instead, he told the mayor to announce that he plans to break ground on the hotel on May 1.

Koppeis said he also was working with a fast-food developer to add to the site.

Additionally Tuesday, Huck’s gas station at 1973 Walnut St. plans to apply for a video-gaming license. Stephens said the gas station does not meet the qualifications because it doesn’t have the ability to pour and consume liquor on the premises. The city has an ordinance prohibiting establishments that sell motor fuel from obtaining a Class A liquor license, which allows businesses to pour and consume liquor on site.

Stephens said he expects the gas station will ask the council to change the ordinance.

“I don’t see myself changing my mind,” he said.

The council on Tuesday is expected to approve the job posting for the a new fire chief, as Chief Steve Swafford is retiring at the end of 2018.

Stephens said the city is being proactive so if it hires somebody, that person will spend some time with Swafford to get used to their new surroundings. Additionally, if the city goes through a round of interviews and doesn’t agree on a candidate, it can start the process over.

The mayor said he hopes to have somebody hired by Oct. 1.


on twitter: @zd2000


Dustin Duncan is a reporter for The Southern Illinoisan covering Carbondale.

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