Two Utica police officers and a fire department official were honored Thursday night during the village's board meeting for rescuing a woman who fell into Illinois River flood waters last month.
Utica police officer Donald Weiss, Police Sgt. Jason Quinn and Fire Capt. Rick Maltas were praised for their actions in saving a woman who had slipped into currents while fishing at Starved Rock State Park during the evening of June 27.
They each received a Distinguished Service Award during the short ceremony in front of family and friends.
Utica President David Stewart said the three were first responders at the park and he praised their "quick thinking and swift actions which saved a person's life."
Maltas said the woman was fishing along the park's river bank when she fell and slipped into the high waters.
"The river was at flood stage and she was clinging to a tree root in the water when we arrived and she was unable to get out by herself," Maltas said.
The three men pulled the woman to safety before the arrival of other firefighters and without rescue equipment.
Utica Fire Chief Ben Brown said the women was saved with only slight injuries.
Congratulating the men, Utica Police Chief Rodney Damron said, "These officers went out to help this women and their quick actions were critical and heroic."
Additional signage at busy intersection
Damron reported to the trustees he had been in contact with Illinois Department of Transportation officials to request the instillation of additional safety signage at the traffic signals on U.S. 6 and Route 178 to improve driver awareness at the intersection. Damron said there have been a few accidents at the location and he hopes the signs would prevent other collisions.
Maintenance of the canal
Village attorney Herb Klein told the trustees he has been working with Illinois Department of Natural Resources officials on a lease agreement which would allow Utica workers to take over maintenance a portion of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. The trustees agreed to give Stewart the authorization to complete the final paperwork. Klein said the cost to the village for the lease arrangement would be "nominal."
Stewart said the Illinois Department of Natural Resources agreement would be one of the first and best solutions for the village's long range goal of eventually rewatering the stagnant canal.
Additionally Thursday, trustee Debbie Krizel informed the board the annual Christmas in the Village celebration has been scheduled for Nov. 24 and 25.
Before adjournment, a village resident inquired about recent explosions, which recently shook his house and could be felt across the village. The trustees theorized the blasts most likely came from nearby bridge construction now underway on the shores of the Illinois River.