The Clinton County Zoning Board of Appeals was met with applause on the evening of Nov. 7 when it denied a special use permit to SolarStone Partners LLC, a Minnesota company that wanted to build a solar farm on property in the 10000 block of Joliff Bridge Road. The plot of land, currently zoned agricultural, is owned by Gerald and Joyce Huelsmann of Trenton. 
    The 5-0 vote in favor of denying the permit came after many citizens residing near the proposed solar farm spoke out against the project following a presentation by SolarStone vice president of business development Gordon Simanton. The boardroom itself was packed full, with many people standing and spilling out into the hallway. 
    The solar farm would have been in operation for 30-35 years, after which the land would return to agricultural. The nearly 23-acre farm would have had a chain-link fence around it and contained panels that track and move along with the sun. According to Simanton, the key benefits would have included, “clean, safe, renewable energy, power to about 500 homes and a diversified revenue stream for agricultural landowners.” 
    One meeting attendee asked what the presence of a solar farm does to surrounding property values. Simanton provided data from the county assessor of a city in Minnesota with a 1,000-acre solar farm, who performed a study using 12 test homes adjacent to the solar farm and 126 control homes in the vicinity. According to Simanton, the assessor’s findings determined a less than 1-percent variance in selling price of the homes near the farm.  
    One of those opposed to the project was Denise Robinson, who lives with her husband Gary on Joliff Bridge Road, south of the proposed solar farm. After confirming with Simanton that his solar panels are imported from China, Robinson said there’s a “mad dash” for solar energy companies to obtain land quickly in order to lock in prices before President Donald Trump’s tariffs kick into effect next year.  

    Several towns are reporting thefts from motor vehicles that have occurred in the area.
    The villages of Albers and Germantown have both reported a spike in thefts from automobiles.
    According to Albers police chief Brian Vielweber, theft from automobiles are occurring in the Albers area. 
    Residents are being asked to lock and secure their automobiles, as well as garages and storage structures.
    If you should see or hear anything suspicious, especially during the overnight hours, call 911 to have the activity investigated.
    The Germantown Police Department also had reports of multiple vehicle break-ins last Wednesday evening or early Thursday morning, Nov. 7 or Nov. 8, on Henry Street, Maple Street, Laurie Court and Sycamore Street in Germantown.
    Germantown Police Chief Jeff Wuebbles said that all of the vehicles from which the thefts occurred were unlocked.
    "There was no damage to any of the vehicles; all of the vehicles that were rifled through were all unlocked," Wuebbles said.
    A Browning shotgun was taken from one vehicle and a Ruger LCP handgun was taken from another.
    In the other vehicles, the suspect and/or suspects had rifled through them and small change was taken.
    Wuebbles advised residents to check their home security cameras and to keep watch for the items, especially the shotgun and/or handgun.
    He also reminded everyone to keep their vehicles and garages locked and valuables hidden from plain sight. In addition, police urge homeowners to keep their homes, windows and doors locked up.
    Please call Germantown Police Department at (618) 973-8835 if you have any information about the thefts.
    It is not known if the Albers vehicle thefts and the Germantown vehicle thefts are related. 

    New contracts for employees of the city of Breese were approved at the regular city council meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Separate contracts were approved for utilities and public works, EMS and police and collector’s office clerical workers. The contracts went into effect on Nov. 1 and grant a 60-cent raise in year one,  a 65-cent raise in years two and three, and a 70-cent raise in year four.
    The council also approved authorizing the execution of the Illinois Municipal League Risk Management Association’s Minimum/Maximum Contribution Agreement, which is done every year and helps with insurance claims that may be filed against the city of Breese.
    The council also approved a resolution to terminate the participation of elected officials in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. Previously, any council member could participate in the fund provided they served enough hours. No council members felt they met that requirement.
    In other news, Alderman Kevin Timmermann stated that the roundabout at Holy Cross Lane by HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital is complete other than striping and seeding. Allen Pollmann was hired as a full-time paramedic. Mayor Charlie Hilmes reminded all citizens to be mindful of barricades and signs as the county moves into its busy holiday season. He also announced that volunteers are still needed to assist in decorating Northside Park. Alderman Jason Davinroy stated that the leaf dump on Breese Road will be open until Dec. 16 on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays and Wednesdays from noon to 4 p.m.
    Alderman Paul Steinman announced that there would be a zoning hearing regarding a special use permit for a proposed bed and breakfast owned by John and Christine Foppe on Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Breese City Hall. 
    The next Breese City Council meeting will be Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in Breese City Hall.

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