Nokomis council to ponder Safe Passage program at next meeting

NOKOMIS (Heartland Newsfeed) — There was no action taken regarding Nokomis joining the Safe Passage program during the City Council’s recent meeting on Monday, Oct. 14.

Taylorville Police Department chief Dwayne Wheeler and Denise Evans, the Taylorville coordinator for the Safe Passage program spoke before the council to provide more details about the program and how it has reduced crime in the community.

Wheeler and Evans attributed to most of the crimes – specifically theft, home invasions and other smaller offenses – have led to drug addicts looking for enough money to get their next fix.

The Safe Passage program allows addicts to come into the police department and obtain treatment for detox and rehabilitation. The program enters into contracts with other programs, which hold beds for those entering the program with transportation to treatment centers provided by volunteers, which means immediate access to services instead of waiting weeks or even months for an opening.

The program is currently funded by donations and grants and will require no cost to the city’s taxpayers, which means no fiscal impact on the municipal budget.

As it currently stands, the Nokomis Police Department has sufficient space for an office space for a program coordinator should the city choose to join the program.

In the event that an addict voluntarily comes in with their drugs and drug paraphernalia, only a police officer can take control of suck legally.

Both NPD chief William Kenny and the Standing Against Addiction and Drugs organization are in support of the initiative to get things started.

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As this was not an agenda item, further action was tabled until the next meeting on Monday, Oct. 28.

The commissioners approved an amendment regarding material and electrical upgrade costs for the Lions pavilion at Fred B. Johnson Park, not to exceed $5,000 as part of old business. Commissioner Jonathan Nash also informed the council that lighting work was set to begin.

In other business, the council approved a request from the Nokomis Woman’s Club to use the recently vacated building which formerly housed the recycling center for storage of their Christmas decorations used to decorate Fred B. Johnson Park.

The council also approved payment for portable toilets for the Haunting At The Park event being held Saturday, Oct. 26 at Fred B. Johnson Park. As a member of the board of directors for the Downtown Nokomis Association, the sponsor of the event, commissioner Ann Brookshire abstained from voting.

The council tabled a decision on hiring a vendor for the treatment of city buildings for bugs. The council had received a bid for monthly service and the council decided not to rush the decision and will reach out to more vendors to determine the best service and affordability.

No action was taken during an executive session regarding police scheduling.

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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network and a contributing writer for My Sports Vote, Ambush Sports and Midwest Sports Network. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dogs Sparky and Buster.