03/15/2021 A Voice From the Gallery

“Without dreams, there can be no courage. And without courage, there can be no action.” 

Wim Wenders

Mayor Dan Haeder called the March 15, 2021, city council meeting to order with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Councilmembers present were Councilman David Larsen, Councilwoman Darla Reppe, Councilwoman Linda Talbott, and Councilwoman Melissa Kay with Councilman Marcus Ireland via telephone.  No city attorney present.

Mayor Haeder called for Approval of the Agenda.

About five minutes into the meeting chiming started. A phone.

At 6:02 p.m. Mayor Haeder opened the Alcester Board of Equalization with just one appeal of valuation.  Karen Huenink was present to make appeal the valuation of the Huenink home.  The council meandered through the process of figuring out the percentage rise in value, the basis used to increase the value, and trying to answer the question, “…how did they know about updates/upgrades to raise the valuation?” (0:12:29.23) to which FOPat answered through building permits and routine valuation hikes.

Agenda Item #5 – Public Input  Bret Doering (0:29:39.20)was present to voice his appreciation and to personally thank our police department for their quick response to the break-in of his car-wash operation.

Councilwoman Darla Reppe (0:31:32.30)reported three issues.  John Wegh (0:31:43.47) local funeral home director contacted Councilwoman Reppe concerning street and alley approach failures to his business.  Councilwoman Reppe went on to report contact with the parents of lifeguards (0:34:28.17) employed by the city were concerned about WSI and lifeguard certification fees.  Most communities pay for the certifications, Alcester pays for one-half of the certification fee.  The fees are reported to be around $300.00.  The council considered the question, if the city wishes to retain lifeguards it would be in their best interests to pay the whole fee but in a contact situation where the lifeguard must work for a specific amount of time once they have certified at the expense of the city.  Councilwoman Reppe mentioned the continuation of an exposed pipe (0:41:23.90) in Lincoln Circle in which a street pipe was exposed and presented a safety issue.

Councilman David Larsen (0:42:55.83) asked a question regarding the garbage route which has presented some safety issues for our older residents who must schlep their garbage cans across the street to have the garbage truck pick up their garbage “to preserve the street”.  Evidently the garbage truck is not ambidextrous, its arm only swings one way.

Agenda Item #6 – Email Scam-  Emails were sent to some residents with Mayor Haeder listed as the sender.  He was not.  Emails requested help using the purchase of gift card.

Agenda Item #7 – Proper Police Department contact procedure. 

Agenda Item #8 – Proposed Street Maintenance – Mayor says be patient, it is not going to happen right away.  Folks prior to 2012 the street department would make their recommendation to the mayor, the street committee would also go out in the spring of the year to evaluate street conditions with those reports compared to previous years treatments and decisions would be made to take care those problem areas on a 3-4 year revolving plan.  Now it is not just the streets but the utility infrastructure under those street which needs attention.  My opinion the city needs to adopt a schedule and a plan of action with funding to repair our streets from west to east.

Agenda Item #9 – Library Board- the council voted to seat Cosette Heman for the three year term given up by Pam Hughes.

Agenda Item #10 – Paint South Dakota 2021- Still needs a chairperson and volunteer crews.  Deadline is April 15th, 2021 for implementation.  Will be placed on the April agenda.

Agenda Item #11 – Surplus chairs- Evidently Alcester EMS is in need of chairs, so the city elected to donate 20 chairs to the organization.

About 64 minutes into the meeting phone chiming continues on and off every minute or so. Again the chiming starts at about 68-69 minutes into the meeting. Yeah Wanda’s phone messaging her. Can we not find a solution to the chiming phone causing interruptions?

Agenda Item #12 – Personnel Policy Manual Changes.  Several observations here.  Human Resource Guru Councilwoman Kay and FOPat have been pushing the merit, longevity and of course the all-time favorite employee evaluation.  Motivation?  Well let’s see, when an employee starts at the top of the wage scale raises are limited to cost-of-living raises.  So after much, much discussion and conversation dealing with personal experiences and expectations from the mayor Resolution 2021-05 amendment to the Personnel Policy was moved to first reading.

Resolution 2021-06 amendment to the Personnel Policy was introduced with a cautionary warning from Councilwoman Darla Reppe who had done some research on the issue.  Councilwoman Reppe had been warned the city should steer clear of any policy change as outline in this resolution because it becomes a major problem. Vote was taken with four aye and one nay (Councilwoman Reppe)

Resolution 2021-07 Amendment to the Personnel Policy, was presented for first reading.  The Mayor asked, “What is the highest annual salary for an employee right now…” (1:29:56.77) FOPat answered, “… it is between the Chief and myself…” (1:30:14.57)  then Mayor Haeder asks, “…what number is that…” (1:30:22.33) and after a long, calculating pause Mayor Haeder paraphrased, “…we’ll call it $50K” (1:31:10.23) Resolution approved for first reading with amendment to percentages cut in half.

Agenda Item #13 – Legal – Settlement Cap for SRTS Lawsuit against City of Alcester, McLaury Engineering by Christensen.  Cap of $10K by city or rather city liability insurance(01:43:37.40) Mayor Haeder says, “…I don’t feel bad about them (Alcester liability insurance carrier) paying…” and like amount to be matched by co-respondent McLaury Engineering.  Vote approved the cap settlement amount with the attorneys to be advised of the vote.

Agenda Item #14 – Reminders and Updates

Agenda Item #15 – Executive Session needed by Councilwoman Melissa Kay 1-25-2.1 Personnel.  Councilwoman Kay instructed Wanda Halverson to stay in the session.  Into Executive Session at 7:49 P.M. and out of Executive Session at 7:55 P.M.

Agenda Item #16 – Adjourn  City Council Adjourned at 7:56 P.M.

Contact City Council

Mayor Dan Haeder                   605-934-2287

Councilman David Larsen        605-934-2434

Councilwoman Melissa Kay     712-557-0689

Councilwoman Darla Reppe    605-934-2602

Councilwoman Linda Talbot    605-934-1849

Councilman Marcus Ireland    605-370-1193


03/01/2021 A Voice From the Gallery

Councilwoman Melissa Kay smugly asked the question during public input where Councilwoman Darla Reppe had dutifully, faithfully reported (00:19:03.37) continuing concerns about a ‘Sh**hause in their neighborhood, “…DO THEY (concerned homeowners in Ward III and residents of Alcester) KNOW THERE IS A VACANCY IN WARD III…”.(00:20:04.57)

Councilwoman Melissa Kay,  I Vickie Larsen can answer your question.  Of course they do, but having seen the treatment meted out to me (fellow resident and short-lived-Ward III councilperson who was fulfilling her promise to work for her constituents and neighbors) by the great judgmental maw of a self-proclaimed Human Resource, a lawyer-in-training and waving the Solomon-like wisdom of all her thirty-two years, they can have no confidence they would not be subjected to the same treatment.

 And so it begins.  The March 1, 2021,  Alcester City Council meeting was delayed until telephone contact was made with Councilman Ireland and finally called to order at 6:02 p.m. by Mayor Dan Haeder with a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Councilman David Larsen, Councilwoman Linda Talbott, Councilwoman Darla Reppe and Councilwoman Melissa Kay in person.  Councilman Marcus Ireland, was counted present via telephone and City Attorney Sam Nelson was absent.

Agenda Item #3 – Approval of Agenda –  Call to approve the agenda…well kind-of.  After some hemming, after some hawing and some wandering downstream of the call for agenda approval at hand, Mayor Haeder was steered back from a correction issue of the February 1, and February 15, council minutes to address the approval of the agenda.  One thing to note here is the approval of the agenda as presented.  Motion (0:02:58.07)  The council approved the agenda as presented with no changes in order or amendments.

Agenda Item #4 Approval of the February 1, 2021 and the February 15, 2021, Regular Council Meeting Minutes.  Correction was made in paragraph four of the February 15, 2021, minutes of Regular Alcester City Council meeting, “…Dale Larsen made a motion to approve the Tax Abatement…” was changed to “…David Larsen made a motion to approve…”  Perhaps proof-reading would be a good practice particularly when posting albeit draft minutes of a city council meeting on the city website.  Minutes were approved, however I did find it disconcerting the council did not notice the error prior to the meeting. 

Agenda Item #4 – Public Input –

Vickie Larsen asked about the status of a FOIA/Sunshine request hand-delivered to the Finance Officer at the city office on February 17, 2021, requesting a true and complete parts list for the custom computer for the city shop. (0:04:36.47)  Vickie Larsen also asked about the launch of the website and her inability to access the new website.  Some folks had access, while other residents I polled did not have access, yet.  I had already determined it was not a computer problem but some sort of other processing issue.  I did contact my internet provider with the issue.  When I returned home last evening after business hours, I discovered my internet provider had returned my call but since it was after hours I elected to contact them this morning.  It was when I check my access again, I discovered I now had access which I shared with my internet provider. 

Councilman Marcus Ireland raised the concern of the Christmas lights continuing to be lit in the park. (0:06:38.10)  Shut them off.

Mayor Haeder enumerated concerns brought to him.  Complaint about the taste and smell of city water.  Complaint about street repair.  Complaint about water bill.  (0:07:03.70)

Councilwoman Darla Reppe raised additional concerns over the existence of the Sh**hause in Ward III. (0:19:03.37)  Councilwoman Reppe noted this was her fourth individual contact about the Burk Sh**hause.  The question posed to Councilwoman Reppe was can’t we do something about this, to which city bookkeeper Jurrens reiterated the same bad information from 2019 when she and then Councilman Lance Johnson were hawking permission for his countrified version of a sh**hause without the fog.  There are Regulations, Agreements and Conditions with Land attached to title documents which were put into place to protect the property interests and assets of land owners in a development that had not been fully sold.  Those Codes and Covenants run with the land and cannot be bargained away by a self-serving city councilmember or members!  Now you are going to be told about Mr. McGill a Beresford lawyer whose name was given to Alcester Councilman Lance Johnson and Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens by our own City Attorney Nelson.  Well folks these jewels from a gumball machine met with Mr. McGill of legal ‘fame’ not skateboard fame, whose briefs in this case have holes in them and of course, he was not the author of those Regulations, Agreements and Conditions with Land.  The author of those controlling Regulations, Agreements and Conditions with Land was authored by Mr. Charles Haugland and in his capacity relating to and in association with the Alcester Development group.  The  key here is intent of the document and the time frame.  Mr. McGill again of legal fame and not skateboard fame purports the time limit has expired but since I do not have access to his ‘opinion’ because it is protected by attorney/client privilege.  However I would argue the so-called ‘clients’ of Councilman Lance Johnson and Alcester Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens were in fact employees of the city of Alcester.  Mr. McGill failed to notice the there was provisional language within the documents which simply stated, at the end of twenty-five years the Regulations, Agreements and Conditions of  Land will automatically renew in ten year increments barring a vote from the owners of that development to change those Regulations, Agreements and Conditions of  Land.  This was to protect those land holders whose life-time assets were tied up in their homes against devaluation of their residential property worth due to slaughtered houses, whore houses, Half-way houses, drug factories and etc. being erected in their back, side or front yards. 


Agenda Item #6 – Paint South Dakota -SKIPPED

Agenda Item #7 – Open Bids -Two contenders TopKote and RoadGuy with Road Guy getting the bid.  There was discussion with a particularly interesting aside (0:26:13.97) by Mayor Haeder with regard to FDR Full Depth Reclamation process applied to certain street sections.  This involved the process of grinding up the ‘asphalt’ and re-using that product along with two applications of chip seal to hold the construct.  The problem of what appears to be follow through on the process.  Oh sure they sure did grind something up, the problem is that there was very little asphalt remaining on the street to reuse.  Something akin to grinding up chicken for chicken salad and the only ‘chicken’ ya’ll have is two wings and leg instead of a breast.  Problem #1 not enough ‘meat’.  Now the recipe calls for two applications of chip seal to ‘cement’ or solidify the reclaimed asphalt.  So gents tell me, did the two applications of chip on the FDR streets happen or was it a half-muled job?  I believe the agreement was for Road Guy to apply two coats of chip seal to the FDR, did that happen or was it skimped?  Tell me?  Seeing poor ol’ FDR layin’ in the ditches tells me we had the two wings but dang-it-all we didn’t have the prayer!  At 6:30 P.M., Finance Officer Jurrens announced to the Mayor it was 6:30 P.M. (00:29:36.43)  So readers what was the significance of 6:30 P.M.?  Oh well this was apparently a planned diversion from the agenda item line-up.  But… but the council approved the agenda as presented.  Now this 6:30 P.M. diversion to Agenda Item #12?  Who asked for that, why wasn’t it on the agenda and why couldn’t City Attorney Sam Nelson present this in person? (0:29:51.13)  So what is so blistering important are we paying City Attorney Sam Nelson for executive session telephonic consult time?  Was he alone or was he Sam et.al?  Just what are we…what are we paying for phone-a-lawyer? Why poor ol’ Agenda Item #6 must really feel left out in cold unknown.   So now the council skips to Agenda item #12,  Boy-howdy with all this here skippin’ I thought we should be a singin’ “Skip to My Lou” .  Unfortunately when I looked up the lyrics and their meaning, I thought it might not be politically correct.  Oh what the hey, why not.  ‘Cause all this time I thought this here song was about skippin’, lawsy no it is not.  The meaning ranges from partner-stealing to having a play party where singing and dancing with instruments was evil.  Betcha, ya’ll didn’t know that one. 

Agenda Item #12 – Sam…Phone home folks are waitin’ for ya.  Motion, Second, Vote to go into Executive Session-out-of- order.  Mayor declares council in Executive session at 6:32 P.M for 1-25-2-3 Legal matters.  (0:31:13.87)   At 7:09 P.M. Mayor Haeder declares the council back in open session. (0:31:27.87) No action taken or discussed.

Agenda Item #6 -Here we go Skippin’ back to Painting SD.  I didn’t see or hear of any partners being stolen so it must have been a pickin’ and grinnin’ session that we should be singing to.  Groups needs a volunteer to head up a nominating committee.

Agenda Item #8 – Employee appreciation -03-05-2021 $10 chamber cash for employees of 2020. (0:37:52.00)

Agenda Item #9 – Department Heads Reports- The Oxymoron

This is where Finance Officer Jurrens gave the report with the exception of the Golf Course and Library.    

Streets-FOPat told the council our expensive wheel loader is broken, on its way to Sioux City for repair, and said repair something to the tune of $5000.00.  Frozen waterlines under street.

Cemetery– Report on the update in records (0:49:53.53) (0:50:13.60)  No updating in cemetery registrations or records.

Water/wastewater-Danielle from Banner called about future project.

Police Department– log reports given to council

Golf Course-repairs, golf cart purchase/swap and cart shed possible swap to summer rec.

Library-Used book sale

Committee chairs– Councilwoman Melissa Kay- discussion of employee review, referring to audit report for five employees in the finance office.  The recommendation by the audit report has not changed for the past years.  The recommendation is for more oversight not for more employees.  Now the problem in Alcester is that our ‘oversight’ council are not schooled in municipal finances and procedures and rely 100 % on the veracity in information shared by the employee who the oversight directly involves.  (The Committee Chair Update Discussion was presented by Councilwoman Kay in her self-admitted guru toga and proforma  HR.  But qualified her remarks to the upcoming discussion in agenda item #11.

Agenda Item #10 – Ordinance 2021-04 – Second reading. (1:06:05.90)  Second reading approved.

Agenda Item #11 – Longevity/Performance-  Keep in mind the city of Alcester is a municipality, it is not a for profit business and as a government  entity it has different standards and regulations in operation.  In explanation, a longevity raise sometimes is given a long term employee who has reached the wage ceiling of their job description. “According to the Bridget Miller  Contributing Editor Aug 20, 2015 and HF Daily Advisor, There is no mandate an employer must take years of service into account in employee raises.  Here are some of the arguments against awarding longevity raises.

  • If the company has kept up with market rates, there’s no need to use longevity as an excuse to raise salaries of long-term employees to market levels.
  • This is an extra cost that some deem unnecessary because it’s not merit-based and may be rewarding individuals who are no longer performing well.
  • Some argue that it makes more sense to solely reward performance. If the longevity raises take money away from raises that could more directly impact productivity, it can be questioned whether it is money well spent. (If it is implemented in conjunction with performance-based rewards, however, this argument may not have as much weight.)
  • There are other ways to reward long-term employees, such as increased vacation time or other benefits and perks—and many of these will cost the company less money…”

Folks Human Resources involves a lot of things but most important is just plain old common sense…for those of us who have worked as an Employee, as a toilet cleaning maid, a braided rope/molding line worker, office personnel in a freight company, waitress for the local cafe, as a teacher, an EMS volunteer and then as an Employer with 30 employees whose livelihoods are dependent upon me, we already have an innate training in what works and what doesn’t. It is called life experience. So Councilwoman Kay lets address the whole HR Guru thing shall we:  Let’s visit your written, unfounded accusation/opinion Councilwoman Kay of October 7, 2020, and in your words madam, “Ms. Larsen held herself out as a human resource guru;…”   In open session I made applicable references as the owner of a small business and an employer as well as an employee, not in closed session! A note here folks as you watch the video, count how many times Mayor Haeder or a council member has voiced their life experiences and their job experiences.  

So let’s compare, shall we Councilwoman Kay.  Let’s do compare shall we?  You stated in Linkin that you had taken an HR Training course and that you supervised numerous employees in a cleaning company.  So let’s compare my employee/employer working years of 51 years to your employee working years of 14 based upon a work force entry age of 18 for each of us.  So do I get any points for workforce experience and on-the-job-trainings and learning?  So Councilwoman Kay, I have never, ever held myself as a HR guru or any other kind of guru.  I have spent 37 years more time in the workforce that you have existed—-so you might say I have some experience you do not.  I was an employee long enough to appreciate the golden rule of employer and employee.  As you deal with your employees, think back to your experiences as an employee.  Value the lesson! Alcester work force does not require an sitting HR person, just common sense and the ability to walk in the shoes of your employee or your employer.

One last thing on this subject as the council considers performance interviews of the city employees, I propose the same interview forms be applied to our council members so we may grade and consider their performances, knowledge of their job duties and descriptions and how well they are performing.

Raise, no raise or a boot down the road so-to-speak?

Agenda Item #13 Finance Office Update Approve Warrants, Seasonal Wages. Alternate garbage routes and etc.

Agenda Item #14 – Alcester Community Bldg

Agenda Item #15 – Volunteer Roster- nothing

Agenda Item #16 – Executive Session-Councilwoman Kay stated she had something but was electing to deal with the person via telephone.  H-m-m!

Agenda Item #17 – Adjourn  Council was adjourned at 8:47 P.m.   

Contact City Council

Mayor Dan Haeder                   605-934-2287

Councilman David Larsen        605-934-2434

Councilwoman Melissa Kay     712-557-0689

Councilwoman Darla Reppe    605-934-2602

Councilwoman Linda Talbot    605-934-1849

Councilman Marcus Ireland     605-370-1193