City Council discusses mental health


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Members of the Macomb City Council address and bring awareness to suicide and encourage those in the community to advocate and contribute to the topic of mental health.

Steven Barnum, Assistant News Editor

September is ‘National Suicide Awareness Prevention Month’ and Mayor Mike Inman is in full support.

While addressing the topic from the podium, Inman relayed some unfortunate facts about the reality that is suicide. One stat that stood out was that more than 41,000 people commit suicide each year, which makes it the 10th leading cause of death for adults in the United States.

“Macomb, Illinois is no different than any other community in our country,” Inman said. “We all need an occasional reminder that we are all fighting our own battles.”

Often a taboo subject matter, Inman believes that now is the time to show appreciation for others and make sure they get the resources they need to overcome battles with mental health. The city council’s discussion on suicide prevention comes just days after the overdose of famed rapper Mac Miller, who had battled depression throughout his life.

“Suicide can affect anyone – regardless of age, gender, race, orientation, income level, religion or background. A simple phone call, handshake or hug can go a long way,” Inman said.

Picking up from last week’s meeting, Community Development Coordinator Rey Heitner ironed out the details regarding the regulation of signs placed on properties within the community.

Discussed in depth by the planning commission on July 25, the city of Macomb is calling for an ordinance revision for Chapter 17 Division 3 of the Municipal Code. Titled “Signs,” the ordinance is now not as clear as it should be due to a 2015 Supreme Court ruling.

In a nine to zero decision, the court decided that signs need to be grouped into categories and that specific standards are to be applied to signs in each category.

One of the many takeaways that Heitner came away with was that the city must remain neutral when regulating the use of signs in the community. Per, local governments are not allowed to regulate the content of the signs, as it would violate a citizen’s right to free speech. Instead, regulations will impact size, location and the timing in which the signs are placed.

The revision will also provide answers about the placement and regulation of billboard signs. Specific sizes and restrictions for the type of sign in each category can be seen in the new code once it becomes official. Other than adding clarity to the existing ordinances, this revision will limit the legal risks for the city of Macomb in the future. Amending “Signs” will be on the agenda for final action during next Monday’s meeting.

“There was a little bit of ambiguity in the former code,” Heitner said. “We’re trying to gain some consistencies.”

To close out the meeting, Inman reminded the public that Tuesday was Patriot Day and that flags would be at half-staff. Proclaimed by then- President George W. Bush, Patriot Day serves to commemorate those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.