CENTERBURG — During their monthly meeting on Monday, village council members supported the request of the Centerburg Lions Club to pursue a historical marker honoring Cpl. Abner Allen.
An Illinois native, Allen lived the last 30 years of his life in Centerburg. He died in 1905 and is buried in Centerburg.
“As far as I can tell, he's the only Congressional Medal of Honor recipient in Centerburg and probably in the county,” Lions Club member John Thatcher told council.
Born in October 1839 in Woodford County, Illinois, Allen enlisted in the 39th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment on Sept. 2, 1861. A member of the color guard, Allen carried the Illinois state flag.
Noting that as flag bearer Allen was a visible rallying point for Illinois soldiers during battle, Thatcher said, “It also meant that you had a big target on your back.”
Allen received the Congressional Medal of Honor for meritorious conduct during the assault on Fort Gregg, near Petersburg, VA, on April 2, 1865. As color bearer, he was at the front of the assault commanded by Gen. John Gibbon.
“It was pretty terrible fighting,” Thatcher said. “There were tremendous casualties.”
Allen carried the Illinois state flag at the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. Shortly after Lee's surrender, Allen accompanied Gibbon to Washington, D.C., where Secretary of War Edward Stanton presented him with the Congressional Medal of Honor.
“It's an extra honor that he got his Congressional Medal of Honor from the Secretary of War,” Thatcher said.
After the war, Allen returned to Illinois and married Mary Annett from Centerburg in 1867. They moved to Centerburg around 1875. Allen died on Aug. 22, 1905, and is buried in Eastview Cemetery. Allen's descendents still live in the area.
The next step is to formally apply to the state for a historical marker. The Lions Club plans to put $500 toward the $3,500 estimated cost and apply for a state grant. Thatcher said he will match the club's donation, leaving about $2,000 to be raised through donations.
If the state approves the marker, Thatcher proposed placing it near the gazebo. The Lions Club will maintain and care for the marker.
In other business, council gave a third reading to a resolution declaring the necessity to levy a renewal 3.0-mill levy. Voters first approved the five-year, 3.0-mill levy in 2006. They renewed the levy in 2011 and 2016. The 2016 renewal is set to expire this year. Council also:
- Approved a Memorial Day parade permit for May 31. The parade will start at 10:35 a.m. at the Centerburg Methodist Church, 65 S. Hartford Ave., and proceed to Eastview Cemetery.
- Set spring cleanup for April 12-23
- Scheduled a budget hearing for 4:30 p.m. on May 3 prior to council's regular meeting at 5
- Held an executive session to discuss the Whistle Stop annexation
Village Administrator Joe Hardin reported that no disruption of service resulted from a recent partial sewer collection system collapse. The estimated repair cost is $15,000-$17,000.
A brick mortar repair on the Town Hall will be completed in the next two weeks. Hardin said the recommendation is that the entire building be inspected, and the village should prepare for mortar repair on the rest of the building, a much larger expense.
Councilwoman Saundra Dove said that the revitalization steering committee voted to apply for a Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant for its downtown streetscape project. The Ohio Department of Transportation funds the grant at 95% with a 5% local cost-share. The project includes crosswalk enhancement, new traffic signals, new pedestrian intersections, and lighting on Main Street from Clayton to Preston streets.
If the village's application is eligible, funding will not be available until 2023. Work would be done in 2024.
Fiscal Officer Shawna Humes reported that the village collected $20,000 in liens which can be put toward the sewer fund. She also shared a letter from Poggemeyer Design Group commending the village on doing a good job of controlling expenses and billing revenue.