Jackson County Gets State Approval for Levee Fix


By Fanna Haile-Selassie
By Jared Roberts

GRAND TOWER -- It's news that Jackson County officials have waited for months to hear. The Illinois Legislature has approved a bill allowing the county to raise funds to fix its ailing levee systems. 

Once the governor signs the bill, the Jackson County Board will then have the power to levy a tax on property owners to raise $1.5 million. That money won't just help Grand Tower, but a couple of towns in other levee districts within the county. 
After months of fundraising to get the amount to fix Grand Tower's levee that collapsed last June, it was obvious the city needed to bond out the project, and that could only be approved by lawmakers.  
"We do know that we had to have it or we would have been flooded. We have no way of raising funds in a little town like Grand Tower," says City Clerk Charles Burdick.
Grand Tower Mayor Mike Ellet says the Jackson County Board will get to vote on the tax levy to fix Grand Tower's levee problem and several other locks and levee issues throughout the county.
"If they don't get theirs fixed, either way, we've got to fix them all," says Ellet. "This is our levy district down here, but they're neighbors with us and they're in the same boat we are."
While the county clerk's office is still figuring out exactly how much the tax on property owners would be, Ellet says he doesn't think the county board will get much pushback about raising taxes.
"I don't see no problems with that. I know they won't have any problems with the people here or up in the bottoms, that's a big part of Jackson County."
Ellet says all that's needed is a few good contractors and about a week's worth of dry weather to finally give Grand Tower some piece of mind.
Even though lawmakers passed the bill Thursday, it still has not reached the governor's desk. But his office says Governor Quinn plans to sign it as soon as he gets it. 
Jackson County Board Chair John Rendleman says the majority of the board supports the tax levy.
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