BRAIDWOOD MAYOR BILL RULIEN gave a brief rundown of the state of Braidwood at the May 8 regular meeting of the Braidwood City Council. Rulien said that the city had seen a fair amount of progress in the past year, including a new museum in the restored depot, the addition of a welcome pavilion on Historic Route 66 and an agreement that allowed the city to have free advertisement on this billboard on I-55 at Reed Road. Rulien also lauded the city’s commissioners and non-elected employees for a job well done in the past year.
Marney Simon Staff writer
The present Braidwood City Council now has one full year under their belts running the city and managing funds. On May 8, Mayor Bill Rulien spent a few moments talking about the accomplishments of the council in that time, during a brief address at the regular city council meeting on the state of the city.
Rulien took a moment to acknowledge each of the city's commissioners and give the public a look behind the curtain of city government.
Rulien started with Public Health and Safety Commissioner Eric Tessler. Tessler oversees the police department, which has seen a variety of changes over the past year. While the department still struggles with staffing issues, the city has managed to upgrade equipment and secure a new police dog.
"Eric spent a lot of time working on things to make things safer around town: speed limits, stop signs, street lighting, worked on record keeping, staffing, contracts," Rulien said. "He works well with our police chief. He's got new cars and scanners."
Rulien said that looking at the city's cash funds, Finance Commissioner Elena Hibler has been working on record keeping and keeping the public informed on where money is spent. Hibler was appointed to the position of Finance Commissioner last summer, after the death of Mayor Jerry Pressley. At that time, Rulien, who was elected as Finance Commissioner, was elevated to the mayor's seat, and the council appointed his replacement. In his brief stint as Finance Commissioner, Rulien instituted a process of making the bills available to the public, something Hibler has continued.
"Elena, her and our treasurer Ty Klover go through the checks, checks and balances on everything we do, I really appreciate that from the two of them," Rulien said. "There are checks and balances there to make sure that the public's money is spent wisely always. They always check every invoice, they go through them every time. Upgrading of the computers in the office, we got new accounting software."
Rulien said he was happy that the city's bills are made available to the public at each meeting, so that citizens of town can see where the money goes.
Rulien also spoke highly of Public Buildings and Property Commissioner Jim Hutton, who has taken on the massive task of overseeing the construction of the city's new $12.5 million wastewater treatment plant.
"Jim Hutton, the wastewater treatment plant is his [big project,] but sewer and water under I-55 down Will Road," Rulien said. "Many, many smaller projects this guy is working on. He oversees the training and keeps us in EPA compliance, the downtown lighting project, he finished the depot and modernizing the equipment, he finally got a bobcat for the city. He works really, really hard."
Rulien also noted ongoing and completed street repairs, done under the direction of Streets and Alleys Commissioner Dan Graf.
"Danny, he repaired Novy Road, Townes of Braidwood, storm water inlets all over the place," Rulien said. "He got voluntary clean up on many of the properties here in town. He oversees the public works, modernized the equipment, salt spreader, snowplow truck, tractor... He kept the streets clear, mowing the sides of the highways which the state doesn't do anymore. That's something that he's taken on."
Rulien said that the accomplishments of the council and city workers have been a team effort.
"This city council as a whole I think has accomplished a lot of things, because we work together," Rulien said. "Union contracts and lawsuits and grievances that were out there for years and years were settled. We created a TIF district, incentives businesses and commercial development."
Rulien said that changes made so far have encouraged businesses to come to town, such as Step-by-Step daycare, Quiznos, Barkland's Beauties dog groomer, and Warren's Body Shop. Rulien said already the city is working on goals for the upcoming year, including a major addition to Casey's, and several infrastructure improvements.
Rulien said one of the biggest accomplishments of the past year was simply to clean up Braidwood.
"We caused seven junk houses to be demolished, one duplex and a few more are in the process in right now," Rulien said. "We got two commercial properties rehabbed, we've seen the history museum opened. Started work on the welcome center. We started a program to mow abandoned properties, we put people in charge of customer service, beautification grants, tourism, economic development, started marketing our city through the billboard."
In addition to the commissioners, Rulien also lauded City Clerk Lisa Glisson for overseeing training of deputy clerks, Administrator and Police Chief Rich Girot for helping to annex several hundred acres of new land, the city's zoning board members for updating the city's zoning tables and adding new classifications to the books, the city attorney, and members of the Braidwood Police Department.