Macomb names replacement for Dean Torreson

Steven Barnum , News editor

Macomb’s City Administrator Dean Torreson will vacate his seat after his second term in the position.

Torreson, a native of Iowa, spent eight years as the city administrator before retiring in 2016. After Sue McLaughlin’s sudden departure, the city brought back Torreson on an interim basis. During Monday’s meeting, the city of Macomb approved Scott Coker as Torreson’s replacement. The city hopes that Coker, the current Public Works Director, is more than a temporary solution.

“Having worked with Scott for two years, I know that he’ll do a very fine job,” Torreson said.

Alderman Tom Koch echoed his belief in Coker’s knowledge, saying that he will have big shoes to fill but that he knows that he is capable.

The city council approved a four-year contract with Coker that includes a $100,000 salary and pay increases in each year of the contract. Coker will start the job as of May 1, which is when the city begins its new fiscal year. Coker has lived in the Macomb region for most of his life and worked at Western Illinois University for 14 years. He said that he has been interested in the job for about a year.

“I’ve worked with the city for less than two years so I’m still learning how city government works,” Coker said. “But it’s a very easy group of people to work with so that will help tremendously.”

In a separate employment agreement, the city of Macomb also approved a contract extension with City Attorney Kristen Petrie. Petrie has been with the city since 2011 and will now remain in her position until at least 2023 with an annual salary of $96,000. Alderman Gayle Carper praised Petrie’swork ethic.

“As a lawyer myself, I never did any of the kind of work that she’s doing,” Carper said. “I really appreciate her expertise and her advice and I’m really happy that she agreed to stay with us.”

Mayor Mike Inman is also appreciative of Petrie’spresence.

“She’s done nothing but outstanding work for the citizens of Macomb,” Inman said. “After eight years in office, there’s only one intercom extension that I know without having to look it up – Petrie’s. We rely on her here and I couldn’t be happier that she’s sticking around.”

Macomb Police Chief Curt Barker requested two new vehicles and it was granted by the city council. The department will purchase a 2019 Dodge Charger for $23,000 and a 2019 Chevy Tahoe for $36,000. The department will receive $3,000 after trading in a vehicle in the fleet.

Inman stressed that the funding of the vehicles will come from sources that are designed to aid the police department. They will pay for the Charger with money from the police protective fund and they will pay for the Tahoe through the drug asset forfeiture fund, where the courts award departments with cash from drug-related criminal activities.

In a continuation from last week’s business, the city will allow Forgottonia Brewing Company to serve liquor at its soon-to-be location in downtown Macomb. The special use liquor license is necessary for the brewery to offer on-site wine and beer because it will be a new business. Petrie said that there were no objections to the brewery getting the license.

A spokesperson for the brewery thanked the city council for their decision and said that it’s a long process to open the business but that it’ll be worth it in the end. The brewery expects to employ six people in the initial stages, but if all goes as well as they hope, they are prepared to eventually double their staff.

In an unusual circumstance, the city council went into executive session before returning to the chamber and holding a vote on a pay increase for an office manager. The council ultimately approved the $2,400 raise, although Gayle Carper and Alderman At-Large Don Wynn voted no.

“Whenever we’re discussing individuals and compensation, we want to be candid about it,” Inman told the Western Courier after the vote. “There were some questions from aldermen regarding the issue, so we wanted to conduct those discussions in a privatemanner.”