WALKER — A new railroad crossing is coming to the city’s Industrial Park, giving businesses at the site a second crossing.
However, the City Council agreed during a June 13 meeting to close two other crossings within the city limits.
The City Council unanimously agreed to spend about $550,000 to install and properly equip a new railroad crossing at the city’s Industrial Park.
Chief of Operations Fred Raiford said an agreement had been reached with the Illinois Central Railroad allowing installation of the new crossing to move forward. Raiford said the railroad has agreed to install the new full-depth, rubber crossing at the railroad’s expense.
Raiford said the new crossing is part of construction of Industrial Way Drive at the Industrial Park. The city will spend about $250,000 on the new road and approaches to the crossing and about $300,000 for the lights, warning signals and cross bars at the new crossing. Illinois Central will install the lights and crossbar.
Funds for the improvements at the Industrial Park will come from capital outlay funds the city has accrued and state and federal grants.
At the same time, the city has agreed to close crossings at Sunset Lane and Mayer Street once the new crossing has been completed. He said the crossings will not be closed until possibly this fall and notice will be given to residents of the area before the closures.
When construction of the new crossing is completed Walker will have six crossings of the railroad, which passes through the entire city on an east-west axis.
In other matters, the council:
Agreed to accept a servitude and right of way on Travis Street near the Creekside Apartments. Raiford said the city sought the right of way to allow for a road widening project. He said the road is too narrow for a turnaround.
Set a date to for a public hearing on millage rates. Clerk of the Council Myra Streeter said a public hearing will be held at the Aug. 8 meeting of the council to set millage rates for the coming year. Streeter said property values in Walker have risen over the past year and rates should go down slightly. “The millage rates won’t make or break us but it is our responsibility to set the rates each year and that is what we will do at that meeting,” she said.
Presented Officer Gerald Sicard, of the Walker Police Department, with a plaque for his service in preventing a suicide earlier this year. In honoring Sicard, Councilman Eric Cook said the policeman performed “outstanding work in preserving the life of a young man who may not be alive today were it not for Officer Sicard’s commitment and dedication to the task at hand.”
Cook said Sicard’s action on the night of the March 22 incident was typical of the dedicated police officers on the Walker Police Department. “Officer Sicard’s dedication to duty is typical of those who serve our citizens in the policeman’s uniform. Our police have the heart to care for others and to be dedicated to their duties.
“We owe all of our police officers our gratitude,” Cook said.
Voted unanimously to hire three new police officers, Wesley Clarkson, Brett Savant and Brant Villenurve. Police chief Marliam Lee introduced the new officers. Lee said all are post-certified and have previous law enforcement experience. The council also voted unanimously to accept Blake Bryant as a reserve officer. Lee said Bryant had been a police cadet while in high school and is now pursuing a degree in law enforcement.
Listened to a candidate for chief of police. At its monthly meeting in May, Mayor Rick Ramsey invited candidates for the Chief of Police position that will be on the Nov. 8 ballot to take turns addressing the council. The first to do so, William Lawson, told the council at the June 13 meeting he was running for the position because “ I want to serve and protect all the citizens of Walker.”
Lawson, who served in the military for two decades, said he has been a resident of Walker for 20 years. “We have a good thing going here … we have good people … and we have a good police department. I will work hard to make sure that our city is well served and protected by our police force if you choose to elect me as your chief,” he said.
Lawson said he has spent his whole life in service to others and that he will use his experience in the military and in law enforcement to assure that the Walker Police Department maintains its high degree of service.