CCC votes to distribute money for community service grants

By Nate Sandstrom

The Champaign City Council voted 5-4 on Tuesday to grant 79 percent of the money requested by programs that applied for community service grants to them.

Each city council member and the mayor chose ten programs among 25 that were eligible to receive community service grant money. Those that received five or more votes, a majority on the council, were considered finalists. However, the total amount of money requested exceeded the $130,893 available by $34,024.

The council discussed two options of how to distribute the money without going over the budgeted amount. The first was fully funding the six finalists that received more than five votes and granting 46 percent of the requests of the other four finalists, and the second option was to give all finalists 79 percent of the money they requested.

Mayor Gerald Schweighart cast the deciding vote.

“It’s bad policy for an agency to depend on this council giving them the full amount of $20,000 (the maximum allowed)” he said. “They can’t bank on that every year.”

He said that the option to fund the requests at the same rate was most fair.

City councilwoman Kathy Ennen was among those who supported funding the top vote getters at the full amount. She said that some of the programs would lose federal funding if they did not receive the full amount they requested.

The council also officially voted to rename the stretch of Kenwood Avenue between Springfield Avenue and John Street after Cpl. Nathaniel K. Moore, who died in a helicopter crash during a sandstorm in Iraq on Jan. 26.

Mark Medlyn, head of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 253, also announced at the meeting the beginning of an annual scholarship to honor Moore. The scholarship would be available to graduates of Lincoln’s Challenge, a program for 16 to 18-year olds that offers a structured military environment in Rantoul, Ill. Moore graduated from Lincoln’s Challenge. Busey Banks in Champaign County are accepting donations for the program, Medlyn said.

Schweighart said he was disappointed that even though more than 8 million people recently voted in the Iraqi elections, few voted in Champaign’s City Council primary election last week. Turnout was 2 percent or less in three of five precincts, according to preliminary numbers from the Champaign County Clerk’s office.

Champaign resident Robert West asked the city and county to make a greater effort in informing residents how to register and vote. He said Champaign County Clerk Mark Shelden will appear on his radio show on Sunday at 8:00 a.m. on WEFT.