Local News

Power Plant Lawsuit Raises Questions About Timeline

By Gordon Hopkins

FJN has obtained emails between staff of the City of Fairbury and Industrial Engineering Solutions (IES), the company currently being sued by the City. Those emails are not entirely consistent with the timeline as described in the lawsuit court filing. Notably, the filing states no offers were made for the contents of the power plant prior to a deadline of September 8, 2022, although emails show offers were made as early as July of 2022.

Two members of the City Council have confirmed they were never shown those offers, nor were they brought before the council for a vote. However, the city council did vote on a resolution that read, “If the Property has not sold on or before September 8, 2022, it shall be sold either at public auction at a time and place to be determined by the City, or sold in some other manner, as determined by The City, without further action by the Mayor and City Council required to effect the same.”

IES contracted with the City to sell thousands of dollars worth of equipment from the now defunct Fairbury municipal power plant but left town without paying the full, agreed-upon amount.
The court filing is dated September 29, 2023.

Mayor Brown told FJN he believed the first contact between the City and IES occurred via telephone, although he said he did not know the date or who initiated contact.

The earliest contact in records obtained by FJN is an email from IES owner James Daniels to City Line Superintendent Nathan Francis on July 6, 2022, “Hey, James Daniels owner of industrial engineering Solutions LLC good talking to you today Nate.”

  • On July 19, 2022, IES sent an offer to Francis via email for $40,000 for two turbines.
  • On July 20, 2022, IES emailed Francis, “I believe I am going to write up a proposal for 120,000.” Later that day, IES sent a proposal for $120,000 for all the contents of the power plant.
  • On August 5, 2022, IES submitted a revised proposal for $120,000 for the items as described in the final contract.
  • On August 8, 2022, Francis emailed then city administrator Jacob Matthews, saying the offer from IES was only good until September 16.

According to Mayor Brown, the city had been contacted by other companies about the power plant but they wanted to be paid for cleaning out the building. IES was the only company that offered to pay for the contents, “And no there wasn’t significant negotiation (with IES)… why would there be? They were offering to pay us for what another company wanted to charge us big money for.”

“I voiced opinions about my doubts of the voracity (sic) of the situation at meetings before the sale,” City Councilperson Bradley Kuzelka told FJN. “If everyone else was going to charge us to clean up the power plant why would this guy pay us to do it?”

Resolution 1199
On August 16, 2022, the Fairbury City Council voted to approve Resolution 1199, which authorized the sale of three steam turbines, three generators, thee condensers, three boilers, one compressor and one oil tank, all from the power plant, to be sold as a lot, for not less than $120,000.

The lawsuit filed by the City of Fairbury states, “The City did not receive any offers to purchase the Property by the September 7 (September 8 in the resolution), 2022 deadline set forth in Paragraph 4 of the Resolution.”

However, as noted above, the city actually did receive offers prior to the deadline.
FJN has asked Mayor Brown and city attorneys for clarification on multiple occasions. As of press time, no response has been received. FJN also reached out to city council members. Kuzelka was the only one to respond but did not have an explanation for the discrepancy.


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