DU QUOIN -- The new Du Quoin City Council was seated Monday night at City Hall, a little over a month since the April election. All candidates ran unopposed, including Mayor Guy Alongi and Commissioners Michael Ward, Chuck Genesio, Jill Kirkpatrick and newcomer Bob Karnes.
All were sworn into office by City Attorney Aaron Atkins. Most were flanked by spouses and family members.
"I think we have a good, quality group," Alongi said. "The plan is to continue to do what we've been doing the last four years. We take care of our finances first and foremost. It's important to look out for our taxpayers. We run a transparent government and we give our citizens a voice."
Karnes is the rookie on the team, even if he is the oldest in years living on the planet.
"The reason I ran for office is because of everybody at this table," he said. "Du Quoin is where I chose to raise my family and it's where I will be buried. These are quality people I am working with and I am honored to serve with them. Because this city has been so good to my family and me, I felt owed something back."
Karnes said that he has always felt "welcome" in Du Quoin.
"I had opportunities to leave. It's unusual for a coach to work in the same place for 34 years and then hangs on. I've been here over 50 years now."
The new commissioner added that he has much to learn with his new job, but can't wait to get going. He said he would like to initiate a city beautification project that he would gladly spearhead. He said he wants Du Quoin to look as clean or cleaner than other communities he visits from time to time in the region.
Commissioners received their assignments at Monday's meeting. Kirkpatrick will oversee Accounts and Finances; Genesio is in charge of Public Property; Ward will run Public Health and Safety; and Karnes will preside over Streets and Public Improvement. Each commissioner will earn a salary of $8,400, while Alongi will earn $14,000 as mayor.
Other city department positions include: Treasurer Stephanie Cravens ($6,600); Deputy Treasurer Jenylle Wathen ($56,360.30); Special Projects Director Charles Novak ($18,000); Fire Chief David Durkota ($76,419.20); Police Chief Les Vancil ($74,131.20); Emergency Management Agency Director Raymond Clark ($4,800); City Clerk Andrew Croessman ($61,630.40); Deputy City Clerk Shannon Jones ($58,282.22); City Attorney Aaron Atkins ($40,800); City Economic Director Jeffrey Ashauer ($32,400); and City Engineer Doug Bishop ($46 hourly).
The city also has contracted with the auditing firm of Emling & Hoffman, P.C.; engineering firm of Clarida and Ziegler; comprehensive insurance broker Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, Inc. and health insurance broker Estel Hoffard Insurance Services.
Moreover, the council approved a two-year appointment for Clark to the Police Pension Fund; Ted Harsha to a three-year term with the Fire Pension Fund; Elise Brandenburg as a part-time police dispatcher at $12.50 an hour; Reid Bastien as part-time police officer at $15.50 an hour; and Charles Gaines as part-time summer street department worker at $10 an hour.