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  • Kent Casson

Sparks fly at council meeting

Independence Day may be over, but there were plenty of fireworks inside Chenoa City Hall Tuesday evening.

During the regular Chenoa City Council meeting, Nicole Burke of Hometeam Eats let the room know the business is looking for another location. She said they applied for TIF funding, it was granted and they bought equipment but a hood was not properly installed.

Burke claimed she was told to remove all of her equipment from OB’s and noted they have presented all of their receipts to the city. She then said she was asked to sign over equipment.

“The city is so connected and everybody is territorial,” stated Burke. “I’m just trying to find my place.”

Area resident Tim Jolly spoke in support of what the Burkes are trying to do in town with their business, stating there is a place for them.

“I’m just in support of the businesses that are here.”

Also during public comment, Stacie Casner claimed the Burkes were targeted and called a bad word during an incident around the Fourth.

Commissioner Dwayne Price suggested a few vacant buildings in town as options for a possible new location for Hometeam Eats.

Dalton Campbell asked the council if there is anything that can be done about the mayor putting his finger in employees’ faces.

“You can file a complaint,” replied Mayor David Shane.

Commissioner Joe Moreland suggested the topic be addressed in executive session as it deals with employees. He said they don’t talk about employee and commissioner matters in public. Commissioner J.E. Myers agreed, saying they aren’t allowed to discuss these issues out in the open.

Marci Curtis wondered if there was a way to make the public more aware if someone has an issue with a council member and if there was a way to put it in writing. Moreland suggested contacting City Attorney Steve Mann to file a complaint.

“I apologize if people think I’m not doing a good job,” stated Mayor Shane.

Shane said he is finding out at times he tries to get involved when he is not wanted. He encouraged anyone to come talk to him with issues.

“I’ve been here every single day since I’ve been sworn in,” added Shane.

Curtis also spoke of concerns over a broken tile in her yard, asking why the hole was filled recently.

“That was a mistake by one of our city workers,” explained Commissioner Zack Lopeman.

Curtis fears water will flow into her finished basement during the next rain event causing a continuation of sump pump issues. A city employee mentioned a tile running through an alley could be cracked. Shane said this would be an ongoing project to address until the tile in front of the house is fixed. Lopeman plans to look at replacing tile in the proper order across town. Curtis remains concerned over the safety of the spot in her yard.

Questions were also raised by Curtis as to why someone from outside the county is appointed to committees. Shane said it is an economic development committee and they want to include the entire area.

“It’s not a policy-making committee, they’re advisory,” replied Shane.

Shane does not want to turn away someone who wants to help the community.

Council members were supportive of blocking off roads by the Finish Line for an upcoming car show Aug. 12 which will be on a Saturday evening for charity.

A discussion was held on sewer, drainage, garbage and surcharges on addresses without an active water account. Moreland would like a procedure in place for closing out accounts that have not paid by a certain time instead of moving them to an inactive status. This is likely something the city attorney will get involved in.

Clearwell financing was another talking point during Tuesday’s meeting. Commissioner Myers reported many governments borrow from banks. She feels Heartland Bank would be more competitive. Shane said part of the discussion is how much the city wants to finance. While the city wants to keep business local, Shane wondered if there was any other bank to look into.

The group approved using Blue Force Consulting for grant writing, limited to upgrades for the city’s water system. Myers noted they are highly rated and break down financing into sections.

“I really love his approach,” observed Myers.

A three-year contract was approved for the Code Red program, used for a public notification system. Myers urged the city to get away from bundling as this is a stand- alone program which handles communications.

“We can upload data any way we want to,” Myers explained.

The software ensures a city message reaches someone and it can communicate with employees, too. The cost of a three-year contract is over $7,000. The city wants the system in place by the middle of August to have it up and running for the fall.

The mayor discussed ordinance compliance, saying the city wants to get the ordinances out to everyone. At some point, they will follow through and make residents comply.

“We need to start working on these ordinances,” said Shane.

An agenda item extending south Veto Street to the 400 block was delayed to the next meeting. Lopeman expects an engineering fee between $750 and $1,000 and he would like the business district to pay for it.

“Whatever we can do to help them out, I’m all for it,” stated Commissioner Price.

Discussion surrounding on-call employee requirements, job descriptions and time sheets was continued as well. Shane explained each sheet is one week now instead of two so employees have twice as much room on the sheet. Moreland would like to change on-call requirements so the on-call person gets paid to carry a phone.

“This way, they get paid for having their phone, they get paid for answering it,” he said.

During commissioner comments, Lopeman revealed crews worked on water main break holes and Moreland said a service line fix has been finished while there is still one more to repair. Price pointed to a large amount of work in the parks and said the Fourth of July was a good one overall for the city with many compliments.

Minutes were approved from the regular June 27 meeting along with executive session minutes from the same date.

The council held an executive session, though no action was taken.

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