2021 Year in Review

City of Lincoln lends support to the restoration of Allen Chapel Church

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[January 08, 2022]   In the final quarter of the year, the Lincoln City Council debated whether or not to assist the restoration and rehabilitation of the historic Allen Chapel Church by forgiving sewer bill debt that had amassed over the years.

The topic came to the council when former Lincoln City alderman, and local historian Ron Keller came to the council to share how he had become involved in trying to preserve the old church building.

Keller explained that he was on the trail of grants that would assist him in restoring the building. However, the debt to the city was going to make it difficult, if not impossible to receive those grants.

By way of history, Keller said that the Allen Chapel was an African Methodist Church. The origination of the AME dates back to 1790ís Philadelphia. The local church was built in 1880. In 2003, the building was placed on the National Registry of historic places.

Keller was seeking forgiveness for just under $2,000 in sewer debt, the vast majority of which was late fees.

OCTOBER 28 - Lincoln City Council:
Keller seeks debt forgiveness for Allen Chapel Church

At the November 4th meeting, aldermen tabled the topic to a future date, but did discuss their feelings about the issue.

While all agreed that the church was worth saving as a part of Lincolnís African American history, they were reluctant to forgive the debt. The church building is now owned by the AME diocese in Springfield. Some thought the diocese could pay the debt and others felt that forgiving the debt could be setting a precedent for the future.

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Throughout the conversation, Mayor Tracy Welch and others in the council said that the church was historic and that the city should do what it can to help preserve it.

NOVEMBER 4 -  Lincoln Aldermen table Allen Chapel vote

At the November 18th voting session of the council, had an action item on the agenda. The motion as presented on that agenda did not come to a vote. Instead an amended motion to forgive only the late fees on the debt was passed.

Welch told the council that night that he had people waiting to pay the bill, if the city would forgive the late fees.

It was reported by City Clerk Peggy Bateman that of the $1,957.33 all but $292.20 was late fees. Aldermen elected to forgive the late fees. After the meeting concluded, Welch was approached by several aldermen and people in the gallery with cash in hand for the balance of the debt. By the time everyone left that evening, the debt of Allen Chapel had been completely covered.

NOVEMBER 18 - Historic building sewerage bill sparks contentious debate

[Nila Smith]

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