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CAMBRIDGE — The Atkinson Landfill will soon have a new owner.

The Henry County Board voted 15-0 on Thursday to approve the sale of the landfill to Western Illinois Landfill LLC. Absent were Erik Brown, Rex Kiser and Jake Waller.

The firm is owned by Lakeshore Recycling Systems of Chicago, which has 850 employees and is one of the largest private waste operators in the region and one of the 20 top waste operators in the country.

Devin Moose, an engineer with Civil Environmental Consultants of St. Charles, recommended the board approve the sale, saying the new owner would be obligated to carry out all remedial activities ordered by the state. Moose said talks about the sale have been underway since August of 2018. The village of Atkinson has already approved the agreement. Closing is set for May 15.

The county's approval of the sale was required since it has a host agreement. According to plan and development chairman Lynn Sutton, money from the host agreement goes directly into the general fund.

"It can be substantial depending on the tonnage," he said.

Moose said the existing owner of the landfill believes they are 95 percent in compliance with the court order, but the state only thinks that figure is 50 percent. He said for the 22 years he's been involved with this situation, it's "the first time we're finally going to have someone with money to do something."

Member Roger Gradert said he was familiar with the new owner's "very clean" business, having seen some of their operations in Chicago. "I think this will be a very good move for the county," he said.

The board also unanimously approved a resolution of support for improving the maintenance and repair of the Hennepin Canal Parkway.

John Swan of Colona spoke to the board about the "great resource" the canal represents, noting the canal nevertheless has "a lot of problems" from the former Howard School in rural Geneseo to the Rock River.

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"The state needs our voice to let them know," he said.

He noted the canal is part of the 6,800-mile American Discovery Trail and is an economic boost to the community through events such as the Hennepin Hundred, which ends in Colona. He said people would be taking the resolution to Whiteside and Bureau counties in order to petition the Department of Natural Resources "as one voice to get canal maintenance."

"I think if we're all on one page, we can get this done," he said.

The Henry County Economic Development Partnership will have the canal as one of its top priorities when it goes to Springfield May 1 and meets with the DNR director.

According to member Roger Gradert, a meeting to discuss the situation on the canal will be on the canal at 10:30 a.m. May 7 at Colona's Scott Family Park.

Thirty applications have been received for the county's economic development position and the initial interviewing committee will have those narrowed to six and then interview the top two.

Based on January sales, the first monthly installment of the public safety tax was $103,500, which was significantly less than the $140,000 anticipated. There is hope that subsequent months' revenue will improve, however. Public safety chairman Shawn Kendall said the sheriff's department had conservatively not yet hired new personnel or bought new squad cars pending realization of the new revenue.

Member Ted Sturtevant, a Democrat, resigned his board seat since the last meeting. Board chairman Marshall Jones said he'd heard from the Democratic Central Committee that John Sovanski of Kewanee would fill out Sturtevant's term. Sovanski will be appointed to the seat next month. Jones said he still has not had written communication from the Henry County Republican Central Committee for replacing Loren Rathjen, who resigned at last month's meeting.

With the departure of Lisa Kotter as the former chairman of the Henry County Economic Development Partnership, plan/development chair Lynn Sutton noted Kewanee City Administrator Gary Bradley will take over as chair. He said Bradley was instrumental in the enterprise zone application and does a good job of working to ensure all communities work together.

A plaque for 28 years of service was presented to retired highway department engineering technician Bill Dobbels. It was announced Jeremy Loibl of Neponset had been hired to fill his position.

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