09/20/2021 A Voice From the Gallery

Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.

Walter Elliot

Mayor  Haeder called the September 20, 2021, city council meeting to order at 6:01 p.m. with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Council members present in the council room were Councilwoman Linda Talbot,  Councilwoman Darla Reppe and City Attorney Sam Nelson with Councilman David Larsen and Councilwoman Cyndi Peeples taking part in the meeting via telephone/cell phone.   Absent were Councilman Brian Johnson and Councilman Curtis Keiser.

Agenda Item #3 – Mayor Haeder called for Agenda Approval which passed unanimously with four votes.  Please take note here the inherent problems with a telephonic council meeting.  Aside from the fact the Mayor cannot effectively determine the telephonic council persons are alone during executive sessions.

Agenda Item #4  – Council Resignations of Brian Johnson and Curtis Keiser due to cause.  Both men tendered their resignations via email letter stating why they were resigning from the council.  To paraphrase; lack of common business sense, lack of spending controls, pig-pet trolling, political symposium plugs coming out of the Alcester city office business, making time for meetings which turn into marathon exercises of “well back in Salem, we did this”…”well back in Emery, we did that” and other marathon memory meme’s.

          Councilman David Larsen made the motion to accept the resignations of Brian Johnson, Ward II and Curtis Hunter, Ward III and thanking both men for their service. (?) (04:23:20)   Councilwoman Darla Reppe  (04:35.10) seconded the motion as it was spoken and no correction to the name.  (05:13.23)  Mayor Haeder announcesunanimous approval vote to accept the resignations of Brian Johnson and Curtis Hunter.  NOT ONE WORD OF APPRECIATION TO THE TWO MEN from Mayor Haeder.  ‘Spose they will get a plaque? 

          (05:43.00) Councilwoman Cyndi Peeples asked the Mayor to repeat the names of the folks who made the motions and who seconded the motions.  She could not hear over the telephone.  Councilwoman Peeples made the point that telephonic participation in a city council meeting is minimal at best.  No see, no hear, and can lose connection in a heartbeat.

          The group went on to approve advertisement for two more city council members.

Agenda Item #5 – Public Input  (06:57:23)  Gordon Richard introduced himself as a reporter and  asked Mayor Haeder for a statement or statements regarding the cause for the two resignations so soon after appointment to the council.  Mayor Haeder told Mr. Richard that he really should ask the two former councilmen.  They had given their resignations via email.  (08:04.33)  Mr. Richard asked if the emails could be public information. The  Mayor turned to the actual lawyer and asked the question if the email would be public and city attorney Sam Nelson responded he felt it would be public accessible. (08:34.60)   With Mr. Richard’s question answered Mayor Haeder asked for more public input. 

          I responded (08:53.83)  covered several subjects included my FOIA for Water information, my FOIA for Credit card information.  I thanked the resigning councilmen for their service and I asked if Wanda was on the clock taking notes? (09:47:90)  Folks the Finance Officer is present, on-the-clock and taking council minutes is her duty.  In the past our city Attorney took notes on the minutes of the meeting.  So now it has been the habit to have Wanda Halvorson sitting presumably on-the-clock taking notes, the city Finance Officer is on-the-clock presumably take minutes and we have a City Attorney on-the-clock who could be taking notes on the minutes.  So we have a two employees from the finance office city in the council meeting at a wage of somewhere between the two of them is $50-$60/hour straight time, Overtime is $75-$90/hour and a city attorney who is booking out at $130 per hour.  So if one takes the September 7, 2021, meeting as an example, the fee for 4 hours worth of council meeting would cost the city $200-$240 straight time, $300-360 Overtime and legal time $520.00 for just one night.  Think about if folks, the city has now gone to two regular meetings per month for 24 meetings per year.  In addition, in the month of August, I believe there were at least 2 special meetings in addition to the two regular meetings.  Now figure that into your calculations.  Worth it, I do not think so.  I then made mention of some gifting, which has apparently taken place, of inappropriate gift which step over the line of sexual harassment.  I mention this because this had been reported to the council.  The council apparently took no action.  Now Folks presuming this event is accurate, the council was indeed informed and took no action the theory of ‘joint and severally’ kicks in.  Simply put if a criminal action takes place, it is reported to the superiors and the superiors take no action, the city can be sued and each individual council member can be personally named and redress can be exacted.  I find this behavior distasteful and criminal.  Nor do I think the later response made after I brought it up is inappropriate because it negates the duty to act and makes sport of the complaint. (17:32.30)  City Attorney Sam starts in on the Water Bill FOIA, he has his opinion and I have mine. (11:27:77)  Good Gravy Sam , I am not asking how many baths a week are drawn or who is sharing the bathtub! I had one more comment to Councilman David Larsen, I left copies of the Facebook accounts listed under the Alcester Golf Course and Alcester Golf Club mentioned in the previous meeting at his place on the council table. One additional comment to add which did not happen in the council meeting and is adverse to FO Pat’s comment regarding Rick Huber handled the Facebook pages, was the fact Mr. Rick Huber states he gave everything he had from the Golf Course to the city secretary when he left his position.

Agenda Item #6   Police Department

Full-time Police Officer candidate was presented.  Tracy Grayson Reid Cannon-Lass has applied for the position and agreed to the terms and conditions of employment.  The council voted to hire Grayson Lass as he prefers to be called.  Officer Lass will be paid $17 per hour until he is certified and then he will be paid $18 per hour.  Welcome to Alcester Officer Lass.

Agenda Item #7   Medical Cannabis

A)  Approval of the Licensing of Medical Cannabis – 2nd Read approved unanimously

B)  Approve of Zoning for Medical Cannabis – 2nd Read approved unanimously

Agenda Item #8   Legal Updates –  None

Agenda Item #9   Chairperson Updates-

          Golf Course patrons approached the city to form a Golf Course advisory Board.  This board would be limited to opinions only with no power.  The proposed make-up of this board would be; 2- male, 2-female, 1- council member and 2- members of the community.

          The library needs a handicap friendly door.  The $1200 total cost of this proposed modification would be shared 50/50 by the school and the city of Alcester.

Agenda Item #10   Office Building Door  Update is that City Glass effected a fix for the door so that it can be opened.  No confirmation of cost sharing between the city and the board.  Two entities have been contacted for quotes, quotes shared during the meeting were ADG (Automatic Door Group) proposed a bid of $8990 while City Glass proposed a bid of $9885.  Since there are still some issues yet to be addressed on this project and the ultimate proposed cost share, the council elected to wait to make a decision.

Agenda Item #11  Finance Office Updates

A)  Budget second reading approval was unanimous.

B)  Work Comp Volunteer Roster added coverage for select groups beyond Fire and Ambulance was approved

C)  Test Results  for THHM and HAA were within acceptable limits.

D)  TextMy Gov was presented by Finance Officer Jurrens.  In spite of FO Jurrens apparent approval the council to its credit decided we already have a Website along with several other avenues of communication with the residents of Alcester, we do not need a $3K per year program with a $1200 fee in addition to the $3K for the first year sign up.  Council stated NOT INTERESTED–TOO SPENDY.

E)  Reminders.

Agenda Item #12  Alcester Community Center

A)  Bond Closure  –  AMKO with Premier Bank taking on the 20 year commitment at 2.5% interest.

B)  Center Rental Agreement  –  Council approved unanimously.

C)  Cart Rental Storage Agreement    –  Council approved unanimously

Agenda Item #13  –  Executive Session  – SDCL -25-2.1 Personnel

Evidently the council did not want to take up my proposal to speak to my concerns about personnel.  GO Figure!  Evidently the council is not concerned about an on-going problem.  Council went into Executive Session at 7:33 P.M. with Councilwoman Reppe, Councilwoman Talbot, City Attorney Sam Nelson and Mayor Haeder in the session.  At 8:04 P.M. Finance Officer Jurrens was called into answer questions.  The Executive Session remained in session with the additional of Finance Officer Jurrens remaining in the session until 8:48 P.M.  NO ACTION WAS TAKEN ON THE SESSION RESULTS.

Agenda Item #14  City Employees

 A)  Hire James Anderson for the duties of part-time Utility person for Landfill, cemetery, mowing and snow removal.  Unanimously approval to hire at $15.00 per hour.

B)  Hire Mitch Merrick for the duties of part-time snow removal and mowing at unanimously approved hire at $15.00 per hour.

Agenda Item #15  Adjourn

Council unanimously approve adjournment at 8:51 P.M.

Contact City Council

Mayor Dan Haeder                             605-934-2287      605-770-7929

Councilman David Larsen                  605-934-2434

Councilwoman Darla Reppe               605-934-2602

Councilwoman Linda Talbot              605-254-3074

Councilwoman Cyndi Peeples

Councilman Brian Johnson – Resigned

Councilman Curtis Keiser – Resigned 

Patricia Jurrens                                  605-934-2517

09/07/2021 A Voice From the Gallery

“Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching–even when doing the wrong thing is legal.”

(Aldo Leopold)

I am repeating the above quotation due to the abysmal failure of the mayor to do his job to do the right thing!  It has come to my attention that Councilman Curtis Keiser and Councilman Brian Johnson have left the council and rumor has it for much the same reasons as Chief Christie resigned. The right thing would have been to rein in finance officer Patricia Jurrens before the decimation of the police department and the Alcester city council, now it is left to the residents to solve the problem by removing her from the finance office!

I was not present at the September 7, 2021, council meeting, but I did have the meeting recorded for me.  My blog is based upon information from that recording and some judicious sleuthing.   Folks since Mayor Haeder does record the meetings, his recording of the meeting can be procured by Freedom of Information/South Dakota Sunshine Laws.

Mayor  Haeder called the September 7, 2021, city council meeting to order at 6:04 p.m. with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Council members present were Councilman David Larsen, Councilman Curtis Keiser, Councilwoman Cyndi Peeples, Councilwoman Darla Reppe and City Attorney Sam Nelson.   Absent were Councilman Brian Johnson and Councilwoman Linda Talbott (01:35.37)

Agenda Item #3 – Mayor Haeder called for Agenda Approval which passed unanimously.

Agenda Item #4 – Mayor Haeder called for approval of the minutes from the August 2nd and August 16th city council meetings.  The council unanimously approved those minutes without changes to what who-ever writes them recorded.

Agenda Item #5 – Mayor Haeder called for the approval of the Watershed/Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvement 2022 – Dale Pearson.  Mr. Pearson reported on the rusting pipes issue at the small shack across the street from our Water Tower which houses the valve joining from the feed pipe from the South Lincoln Water Port located just off  what used to be the Alcester Meats facility to our Water Tower.  The pipe is underground and needs to be lifted to be repaired.  Ideally a larger shed would make repair and future operation easier but Mr. Pearson indicated he felt he could make it work if he had to.  Mr. Pearson did suggest perhaps the City could work with South Lincoln by combining their water port directly to our  water main.  Drawback to that plan is South Lincoln has implemented a Flow Restriction Safeguard and their connection is just off the former  meat pack facility.  Realistic estimated costs to repair pipe/valve connection is $60,000. Mr. Pearson also remarked on the need for a larger control valve in case of emergency.  Given this cost, Alcester has an obligation to its citizens to meter all uses of water ( billed or not billed ) within the city limits. 

          This means the metering and monitoring usage by ALL entities from the pool to the firehouse so the city has a real-time usage of water.  Not necessarily to bill at this time but to have a true concept of usage should we ever have to dial back our water usage.

          Folks we cannot afford to put off the water feed repair.  We cannot afford the loss of any water due to a fore-seeable catastrophe.  No action taken.

Agenda Item #6 – Public Input  Mayor Haeder announced there was about two (2) minutes until the scheduled Public hearing of the Alcester Planning and Zoning Board but he did ask if anyone had any Input.   Aaron Larsen (09:58.20) brought up a problem with the administration of the Facebook pages of the city golf course and the utter lack of over sight.  Mr. Larsen stated he had recently moved back into town and was looking for the fees for the local golf course.  He stated he had talked to golf course personnel asking why the fees and golf course information was not published on Facebook.  He was given the answer that no one had the password to effect a change in information.  Folks I have to ask why wasn’t a copy of the golf course password kept in the golf course file in the city offices?  There was a brief discussion about the Facebook page and announcements.  However, at this point the Public Hearing had to take precedence due to the agenda scheduled time of 6:15 p.m.

Agenda Item #7  Public Hearing – Zoning Medical Cannabis

Agenda Item #7 (a) – (0:15:02.17)Motion to convene jointly as Planning Commission and City Council.  Now folks it needs to be explained about the Planning and Zoning entity and the city council.  I used the word entity because in 7 (a) and 7 (b) the group is named Planning Commission but in 7(e) the group is referred to as the Planning and Zoning Board then it flips back in 7(j) to Planning Commission.  So which is it, Planning Commission or Planning and Zoning Board.  If the Mayor and Finance Officer cannot tell the difference how the devil is the city council members much less the general public supposed to keep up with the musical chair name changing.

7(b) Motion for the Planning & Zoning Board to recommend 2021-17 Ordinance with a second received but no vote taken.  Board members question why no vote. Mayor Ya Mucked Up Buttercup!  Why the devil did you turn and ask the Bookkeeper about the NO vote when ya got City Attorney Sam sitting at yer right hand? (0:17:55.60) Mayor Haeder opens the Planning & Zoning Board meeting to Public Input. (0:18:13.40)  During the public input of the Planning & Zoning Board Mayor Haeder campaigns on approval of proposed Ordinance 2021-17. (0:20:05.97)  Dale Pearson asked a question with regard if the city does not approve the Ordinance 2021-17 what consequence for the city.  Simply put, the State will issue its mandates for the city after which the only changes the city can make to the State mandate is to be more restrictive and cannot relax the mandates issued by the State.  With no further public input for the Planning &Zoning Board, Mayor Haeder moved to further Planning & Zoning Board to discussion just among the board members (0:25:46.57)  At (0:26:50.77)  Mayor Haeder called for a roll call vote.  Councilwoman Talbott was not attending via telephone at this point.  So after the $2232.00+/- Covid money spend on the IPads, why were they in operation for this meeting?  At (0:27:20.23)  Mayor Haeder calls as the Dept. of Redundancy the City Council must now vote.  At (0:27:35.70) Councilwoman Cyndi Peeples makes the motion for the City to approve Ordinance 2021-17 Zoning Provisions.  At (0:28:44.33) Mayor Haeder calls for a roll call vote from the City Council.  Vote unanimous for approval for first reading.  At (0:38:08.60) Mayor Haeder calls for motion on Ordinance 2021-16 Licensing of Medical Cannabis Sales. (0:39:16.80) Mayor calls for roll call vote to approve .  At (0:39:36.27)September 20, 2021, is set for second reading.  At (0:39:54.70)      Mayor Haeder calls for a motion to adjourn the Planning & Zoning Board.  Board is adjourned and the Alcester City Council returns to its regular agenda schedule. 

Agenda Item #6   Public Input (continued (0:40:56.17) )  At (0:43:51.37)  Aaron Larsen continued with his discussion of the Alcester Golf Course/Alcester Golf Club Facebook presence.  Folks here are examples out there I have found  (1) Facebook.com/Alcester- Golf- Course- 291512377591356 , page created April 13, 2012  (2) Facebook.com/Alcester.golfcourse1, created February 1, 2017  (3)  Facebook.com/pages/Alcester-Golf-Club/794477947364425, created December 21/2015   (4) Facebook.com/alcestergolf, created February 19, 2014  with photos of Alcester, UK  Folks evidently no one has a password to any of these?  Now FO Pat wants to drop this sack of flaming Halloween manure (0:42:07.83) on Mr.  Huber’s door step but as you can see the many of the creation dates are long after Mr. Huber’s departure from Alcester City employ.

Agenda Item #8  Legal Updates – Sam Nelson Alcester City Attorney.

(a)  (0:44:47.47)  307 Iowa Street -Nuisance  Once again this is a feature legal issue for the city of Alcester.  Now folks, I believe this issue has been going on for at least one year if not two.  I will look that up.  First let’s deal with the attorney fee per hour on this nuisance.  Back in around 2018 there was a great deal of whizzing and moaning about his legal fees (around $110.00 per hour) from council member, mayor and finance officer.  They took every opportunity to critique our city attorney who was giving the city a discount in his fees because he was a resident and a business owner.  Finance Officer Jurrens publicly badgered, publicly criticized him in meetings, the council would require his presence for an hour worth of council meeting and then dismiss him. Finally Finance Officer Jurrens marched Mayor Glass down to the law office the morning after the city council unanimously approved his legal retainer to tell our City attorney she and the mayor did not feel he was a good fit for the city of Alcester. There was no council vote.  Mr. Haugland understandably rescinded his retainer, yet Finance Officer Jurrens continued to use his work product (without his permission) in her attempts to ‘write’ legal.  Now we have Mr. Nelson and Mr. Frieberg at fees of somewhere around $130-$150 per hour.  Mr. Nelson occupies a chair for an average of 2-3 hours per meeting rarely offering up an opinion unless the city is being sued.  Watch, listen to the video of the meeting.  Here we have Mr. Nelson dealing with this nuisance for a year or more, folks you do the math.  Now let’s deal with the Property Maintenance Code Enforcement Officer Fillingsness.  The city pays Mr. Fillingsness $25 per hour for code enforcement.  The whole purpose of Mr. Fillingsness is to be the face of code enforcement so the Finance Officer or the Mayor do not have to take the heat of throwing people out of their homes.  Now folks if you have ever wondered what Finance Officer Jurrens and Wanda Halvorson are touring the streets of Alcester, taking pictures during the work day?  Do the math first.  Ya got a Finance Officer who is making $30+ per hour, ya got her aid making around $20 per hour wandering up and down the streets of Alcester.  Ya got $50+ /hour  worth of personnel just drivin around takin pictures and writin down addresses.  How long after those afternoon drives do we all-of-a-sudden have property maintenance issues to hand over to $25 per hour Fillingsness (So when is ol’ Fillingsness in town inspecting)and then hand off to $130-$150 per hour legal team.  You do the math.  Then ask yourself, “Who is answering the phones at city hall?”  Yeah right.

          Next up under Legal is the great roll-off question (0:45:27.33) followed up by a language question on ordinance (0:48:44.63).

          Moving on to the (0:49:17.40) to the 2021-11 RV ordinance and the (0:53:53.80) 2021-15 (Attempt to revoke covenants running with the land which is not within the wheel house of the city.)  The relaxing of variances rules.  The variances rules were put into place to protect bordering land owners from encroachment and devaluation of their property by some Yahoo who wants to put a stand along barn/shed.  Part of the existing variance rule in Alcester is it must be an emergency, not just an inconvenience.  Mr. Joe Constance commented on his application for variance and that it apparently was still in limbo He was understandably upset to hear this variance change being expedited while he is still waiting and winter is coming. (1:01:54.00)  Folks listen to Finance Officer Jurren’s response, “…Here is what I will do…”  Here is what you will do Ms. Bookkeeper?  Ms. Bookkeeper it is the council that will be doing, it is their decision!  You have no authority, that lies with the city council!

          October 4, 2021, is the hearing date for the variance.

Agenda Item #9  Police Department

          Updates on the hire of a part-time police officer, hiring a full time police officer and the order for radios.  (1:19:15.67)  Mayor says to Chief Schuller, “if you have any issues, do not hesitate to contact somebody.”  Contact somebody Mayor?  In your own vernacular Mayor Haeder, that somebody is you Buttercup!”

Agenda Item #10  Office Building Door

Quote for exterior entrance door discussion.  Finance Officer Jurrens had contacted Mr. Jami Schempp representing the owner of the old school building to ask about a payment arrangement between the two entities for the $9K+ proposed cost of the door she wanted  Finance Officer Jurrens was annoyed with the answer she received and made the recommendation that (01:26:28.23) “…if they  (the Industrial Board won’t split the bill) I recommend we don’t pay rent this year…”  Bookkeeper Jurrens where do you get off making a threat like you just made?  You are NOT a city council member, you the bookkeeper!  (01:27:20.10)  Now Wanda Halvorson who is also NOT a city council member offers up her unsolicited opinion.  Gee I did not realize this agenda item offered public input!  Whew!

Agenda Item #11  Finance Office Updates

At approximately 7:40 p.m. a call was initiated to City Councilwoman Linda Talbott (01:36:34.63)

(a)  Motion for warrants. Unanimously approved.

(b) 2022 Mayor Haeder Budget was read by Bookkeeper Jurrens.  Evidently the council was not presented to the council before hand therefore they could have read the thing and asked questions.  Evidently this way Bookkeeper Jurrens can have the floor all to herself, drone on and not be bothered with any substantial questions.  Oh yeah, Bookkeeper Jurrens would like a TV for her office (01:44:57.83)  Mayor Haeder calls for a motion to approve the first reading the tardy budget (02:26:19.60)  Call for a roll call vote for first reading with the unanimous approval vote. (02:26:57.07)

(c)  2021-19 Street Maintenance Tax  (02:28:26.33)  voted unanimously.  However folks this little ol’ can be referred.  (02:29:23.20)  Mayor Haeder states every year this fee must be done.  Horse Pucky!  If the budget was properly done and properly handle this extra Tax would not have to be levied.

(d)  2021-20 Wastewater Surcharge (02:30:52.13) Yeah another fee with vague language as to purpose other than get around the deficiency in handling budget adequately.  Mayor calls for motion (02:32:41.60)  unanimous vote.  Folks this too, can be referred.

(e)  2021-21  Water Surcharge Tax/Fee  Charges for new meters and meter reading device.  (02:33:55.30)  Mayor calls for motion to approve this Tax (02:35:03.30)  Unanimous vote, again this can be referred.

Agenda Item #12 – Update of Volunteer Roster

Agenda Item #13 – Executive Session for Personnel

Statue cited was SDCL 1-25-2.1  Discussing the qualifications, competence, performance, character or fitness of any public officer or employee or prospective public officer or employee. The term, employee, does not include any independent contractor; and 1-25-2.3 Consulting with legal counsel or reviewing communications from legal counsel about proposed or pending litigation or contractual matters;

Executive session at 8:44 p.m.

Executive session ends approximately  9:42 p.m.

NO ACTION TAKEN

Agenda Item #14 – Alcester Community Center Staff

Agenda Item #15   Adjourn

Council adjourned at approximately 9:45 p.m.

I was notified by Councilman Keiser he had resigned via email and requested I remove his contact information from my blog.  Mr. Keiser had asked about the expenditure for computers and why they were not in use.  He did not receive an answer.  Mr. Keiser as a councilman was not provided with one of those computers so he could more effectively take part in city meetings when he was away from the city.  He was disappointed with an expenditure of money for I-Pads which were in effect not put into use.  I am sorry he has resigned.  The council needed a business person as a member who could advise them on the business side of a city.  Thank you for your service.

I also learned Councilman Johnson had left the council apparently much for the same reason Police Chief Christie left.  We are losing good people and that is a shame.   

Contact City Council

Mayor Dan Haeder                             605-934-2287      605-770-7929

Councilman David Larsen                  605-934-2434

Councilwoman Darla Reppe               605-934-2602

Councilwoman Linda Talbot              605-254-3074

Councilwoman Cyndi Peeples

Councilman Brian Johnson – Resigned

Councilman Curtis Keiser – Resigned 

Patricia Jurrens                                  605-934-2517