MATTOON -- The City Council on Tuesday honored the recently retired chief, Jeff Branson, of the Mattoon Police Department.

Branson retired last week after 28 years of service with the Mattoon Police Department, including seven years as chief. He is now serving as chief of the Lake Land College Police Department.

"Thank you, Jeff, for your service and good luck, my friend," said Mayor Tim Gover while presenting Branson with a plaque.

Branson said he feels privileged to have worked with so many great colleagues in the police department, the city staff, and the Mattoon City Council during his career.

"I will take with me so many good memories of working with everyone," Branson said. "I really appreciate the opportunity the city has given me."

In other matters Tuesday, the council approved the promotion of Mattoon Fire Department Engineer Michael Shane Diepholz to captain to fill a position vacated by the recent retirement of Jim Donnell. Fire Chief Tony Nichols said Diepholz has more than 20 years of experience with the fire department and is going to be a good captain.

Donnell served for 28 years with the fire department. Nichols said Donnell led the maintenance of the department's vehicles and will be difficult to replace. Council member Rick Hall added that Donnell saved the city a lot of money over the years. Hall said a plaque will be presented to Donnell soon to honor his years of service.

Tuesday evening, the council also heard from Public Works Director Dean Barber that the boil order that had been in effect for Humboldt has been lifted. The city sells water to Humboldt. The boil order was put in place after the sanitizing chlorine in this water dropped below state standards by the time it was pumped north to Humboldt.

Barber said the city has brought the chlorine levels in Humboldt's water back up to state standards and has upgraded its water line infrastructure along north U.S. Route 45 to help prevent this problem from reoccurring. Council member Dave Cox thanked Mattoon Water Treatment Plant Superintendent David Basham for putting in long hours, including over Thanksgiving, to help restore the chlorine levels.

Additionally, Hall noted there was a large turnout for the Celebrate Downtown Mattoon Christmas event on Friday that included enthusiastic spectators for the lighted parade and standing-room-only crowds for live music in the train depot's Lone Elm Room.

"The city of Mattoon should be very proud of that event," Hall said.

Other actions taken during Tuesday's meeting included:

  • Honoring Mattoon Middle School sixth-grader Ella Bahney for being selected to march in the Philadelphia Thanksgiving parade with the Varsity Spirit cheerleading group.
  • Purchasing a 2018 Chevrolet Impala administrative package vehicle for $23,479 from Myles Chevrolet for the police department.
  • Re-appointing Carolyn Cloyd, Dan Lawrence and John Covington to the Public Works Advisory Board.
  • Removing an action item from the agenda for the time being on seeking bids for replacing the police department's mobile radio system.