Williamson County Board discusses audits

Commissioner Jim Marlo (from left), Chairman Ron Ellis and Commissioner Brent Gentry discuss audits Tuesday morning during a regular meeting in Marion. 

MARION — During its meeting last week, Williamson County board approved two items that will add or expand businesses in the county.

The board approved an ordinance adding 20 acres on southeast corner of Interstate 57 on Illinois 148 to the Williamson County Enterprise Zone.

“Road Ranger plans to construct a travel center at an estimated cost of $10 million," Board Chairman Ron Ellis said. "The company plans to create four management positions, approximately 24 full-time equivalent jobs and 10 part-time equivalent positions."

Opening is planned for the second quarter of 2020.

“We are one of eight different government agencies that have to approve this ordinance change, and it would be submitted to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for their final approval,” Ellis said.

A public hearing on the project took place May 22. Ellis said everyone at the hearing was excited about the new truck stop.

Commissioner Brent Gentry asked when work would begin. According to Ellis, once the approval process is completed, work is anticipated to begin in March 2020. The developer is still working with Illinois Department of Transportation to make some changes to the roadway. It is projected to take four to six months for the approvals and the survey work to be approved.

It will cost $350,000 to bring water and sewer to the site. Ellis said they are looking at grants from Delta Regional Authority and the State of Illinois to help with the cost.

“By putting this into enterprise zone they are looking at saving $450,000 to $500,000 in sales tax that they will be able to use for the project,” Ellis said.

They also will receive one to two years of real estate tax abatement.

Commissioner Jim Marlo explained this is a different truck stop that is coming to the city of Marion. He said a study was conducted that found more than 200 trucks parked illegally along I-57 on any given night.

Ellis added that the study found that a stretch of I-57 from the I-24 interchange to the I-64 interchange averages 250 trucks illegally parked on any given night. The new truck stop will be able to park 80 trucks to get them off the road, making I-57 safer.

The project will include a full-service gas station for vehicles and 18-wheelers. It will also include a restaurant. The proposed restaurant is Wendy’s, according to Ellis.

The board also approved an application to add territory to the Williamson County Enterprise Zone for the construction of a new, stand-alone Fujiyama Restaurant. The new restaurant will be in the northwest corner of the parking lot north of Cornerstone Church, directly across from Mackie’s Pizza in Marion.

“This is one of two things that is really important,” Ellis said.

Fujiyama currently is in the mall building, which has been closed, except for businesses with separate outside entrances. 

“I’m 100 percent on making it (the motion to accept the application),” Gentry said. “I think more enterprise zones need to be done.”

The motion was seconded by Marlo and passed unanimously.

In other business, the board:

Approved a raffle and poker run license for Carterville Chamber of Commerce.

Approved a rate increase for Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center. The rates will go from $100 per day to $105 per day.

Tabled votes on a Frontier Contract for phone services, an IT position, and a Crawford Survey.

Discussed the effects of mining under Thompsonville Road that will close the road for at least eight weeks and will disturb a gas pipeline that runs under the road. That work is expected to begin in spring 2020.

The board's next regular meeting will be at 10 a.m. July 9 in the Williamson County Government Building in Marion. 

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Marilyn Halstead is a reporter covering Williamson County.

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