07/11/2018 A Voice From the Gallery

The regular meeting of the Alcester City Council was called to order at 6:00 p.m. by Mayor Tom Glas with the following council present”  Councilman Dan Haeder, Councilwoman Linda Talbott, Councilwoman Darla Reppe, Councilwoman Melissa Kay, City Attorney Sam Nelson and at 6:05 p.m. via Skype, Councilman David Larsen.  AWOL Ward III Councilman Lance Johnson who was going to be late.

*Just prior to the start of the council meeting, Finance Officer Jurrens presented an envelope addressed to me.  I slipped it into my bag without opening it.

The agenda was approved with the exception of the Agenda Item #8 Pool Update to be delivered by Pool Employee Sam Jensen to be moved to just after Agenda Item #4-Approval of June 4th and June 11th meeting minutes. 

Agenda Item #8 Pool Update – Sam Jensen delivered the report stating things were going well.  Mr. Jensen was asked the question, if the pool needed to do things differently what would he recommend.  Mr. Jensen stated a new for a new pool vacuum.  Note nothing was asked about the pool rules of Mr. Jensen. I will reiterate, “Folks nothing was introduced on pool slide rules or the imminent danger of injury due to the placement of the slide and rules of use, i.e. pool safety recommendations of  feet first sliding, no head first or backwards sliding , no child under the age of 6 years old without parent in the pool catching, only one child on slide or slide ladder at a time, no toys on the slide and roped off to keep swimmers out of the splash down zone.  I passed out pool slide rules from other sources including a national organization for safety last meeting for the council to read.  Evidently it is not as Finance Officer/Bookkeeper Pat Jurrens puts it, a high priority.  Alcester children it appears are not a high priority.  Imagine your 8 year old or 10 year old suffering a spinal cord injury with the life-long result of tetraplegia or paraplegia because the pool rules were not set or enforced.  Are you willing to bet your child’s future on FO Pat’s ability to distinguish high priority or ignorable priority.  FO Pat’s, Mayor Hal-Glas’d and the city’s pocket are not deep enough to restore what may be lost through sheer ego and terminal stupidity! 

Agenda Item #5 Public Input–  I responded for public input, I distributed spiral bound documents for each council member and distributed them to their usual seats at the council table prior to the meeting.  Contained within the document was Safe Routes to School Issue which contained email transcripts between Mr. Kim McLaury of McLaury Engineering, Mr. Rod Gall of the Mitchell Region Office of the South Dakota Department of Transportation and Mr. Dustin DeBoer special Attorney General of the South Dakota Department of Transportation.  I had asked for change orders issued for the substantial grade change, addition of culverts to discharge water build up on the upstream side of the earthen dam the grade change created.  I addressed the unintended (?) consequences of an earthen dam which created a downstream water/flooding issue, the entrapment of standing water which created a breeding surface for insects, the attractive hazard created by a ramp in which children with bicycles were already Evel Knieviling over the new sidewalk with the added prospect of motorcycles, scooters and snow mobiles doing their own version of Dukes of Hazard maneuvers in the park, additional charges for increase thickness of concrete to allow for car and truck traffic implementation of the sidewalk through the park but the sharp grade increase would cause a regular car or truck to bottom out making it useless.  In addition of grading changes in the construction of this project, the north/south alley on the west edge of the Alcester Park was constructively abandoned without public hearings , proper notification to affected residents and notification of abandonment and proper legal steps.  I advised the council of the liability of the ramp, flooding situation and the loss of backyard access could cause lawsuits against the city and city council, jointly and severally. 

        The second part of the booklet of documents dealt with my Freedom of Information request of the City.  These documents were a collection of FOIA requests and Alcester Finance Officer Pat Jurrens response which simply put was going to cost me $40 per hour for eight (8) hours research time in addition to copying costs.  This maneuver by Mayor Glas and Finance Officer Jurrens has the effect of deliberately closing public records (00:06:13) and creates a violation of Federal and State open records statutes.

        I finished up my public input with notification to the council that someone appeared to have vandalized the curb on Anderson Drive across the street from Alcester City Councilman Lance Johnson’s home.  The upper part of the curb had been hacked away from the horizontal plane of the gutter which would allow water to collect and possibly wash away support compactions under the street creating a voids and street collapse.

        Also presenting public input were Terry and Jessica Christiansen, owners of the former depot building.  Due to the creation of the earthen dam related to the Safe Routes to School Sidewalk changes has caused flooding in their home and continues to create flooding with each rain event.  It is the Christiansen’s understanding they will have to foot the bill of the poor engineering of the sidewalk which caused damage to their home.  Please note Mayor Half-Glas’d “I (Mayor Glas) was in construction” comments on a cure for the Christiansens. (00:11:25) 

 Agenda Item #6 – Planning and Zoning  This was the second reading of  the Planning and Zoning Ordinance.

 Agenda Item #7 – Street Updates Items of interest is the maintenance of the gravel on West Clark Street, that portion of street running north of the Fairgrounds parking lot.  The grain hauling trucks are complaining the concrete has broken away and have sharp edges.

         A one-time burn permit was approved on the 6th street property, I believe this is the future site for the community building and city offices (?)  But as we the tax-payers have received very little information on the proposed community building, design, funding and our input-wise we are as usual in the financial dark.

 Agenda Item #10 – Police Department Updates.  Chief Christie brought the council up to speed on new locks, evidence lockers and storage and announced the new hire Kendra was  no longer a part-time officer with the Alcester Police Department, she has accepted the open deputy position with the Union County Sheriff’s office created with the departure of Jeff Christie to take the position of Alcester Police Chief.

        The council went into Executive session to discuss personnel at 7:10 p.m. pondered and pondered and pondered until they declared themselves out of Executive session at 8:33 p.m. just shy of an hour and a half. Sheesh!  Either one is fit to be a police officer or not, and it really shouldn’t have taken one and half hours to make that determination.

        A curious thing though Chief Christie and OfficerSchuller came out after about 20 minutes or so after the start of executive session.  They were followed a couple of minutes later by Finance Office Jurrens, who remained in her office another 15-20 minutes or so until she was called back into the Executive session meeting.  This finance officer exit was unusual, ’cause unless Finance Officer Pat comes out to retrieve documents, she simply does not come out of executive sessions until they declared out of executive session or…?

Agenda Item #11-Golf Course  Councilman David Larsen gave a brief report via Skype.  He announced the golf course had a health inspection and received a 98 out of 100. 

        There was an irrigation control issue and has been repaired. However there was an issue where duplicate control boards were purchased.  One control board was purchased independently from the repair guy at $250 and the repair guy brought a second control board and charged the city for it but took a control board away with him.  To be resolved in the future

 Agenda Item #12 – Finance Office Update 

        Warrants were approved with the payment for the diving board was withheld by Finance Officer Pat due to funding.

        Safe Routes To School (SRTS) Project sign off and payment of $20K was delayed due to the questions on, specifically who is financially responsible for the apparent omissions and errors.

        CDBG Loans-Years ago the city of Alcester received a grant from the state of South Dakota secured by Alcester businessman/ South Dakota legislator Roger McKellips to finance the expansion of Alcester Meats.  Alcester Meats repaid the loan with interest to the City of Alcester which was placed into a special account which the city could extend secondary loans to a primary bank loan by businesses relocating to Alcester or expanding into Alcester, to grow Alcester business district.  These loans were to be repaid with interest to keep the fund alive to encourage new business.  These loans should never have been guaranteed with perishable inventories such as alcohol or disposable commodities.  Finance Officer Pat announced two businesses Alcester Tire and Alcester Steakhouse recipients of outstanding CDBG loans have closed their doors but at this time both extinct businesses are current in their loan payments.

        Parking at Alcester City Park included a discussion on the properties immediately North of the Earthen Dam Sidewalk and their loss of access to the rear boundary of their properties.  In other words, the failure of the city to comply with abandonment procedures set by statute.

        Personnel Policy Manual-Committee members set as Councilman David Larsen and Councilwoman Melissa Kay with additional committee members to be comprised of employees.  What About City residents input on Personnel Manual?

        Consensus for the city to take over the Chamber Website and cause the new website to be the Official Alcester City Website with all the bells and whistles of a genuine city website including, agendas, minutes and city codes on line for residents.

        Just before Agenda Item #10, Executive session was called AGAIN to discuss personnel which does not show up on the agenda.  H-m-m!  The council moved into Executive session at 9:15 p.m. and declared out of Executive session at 9:27 p.m.

        NOTE:  Alcester City Councilman Lance Johnson never did show up for the meeting.  The late Ward III Councilman just couldn’t seem to come to the meeting to represent his ward.

Agenda Item #17-Adjournment

        After motions and vote, Mayor Glas declared the regular meeting of the July 10, 2018, Alcester City Council meeting adjourned