10/18/2021 A Voice From the Gallery

Mayor  Haeder called the October 18, 2021, city council meeting to order with the Pledge of Allegiance.  Council members present were Councilwoman Linda Talbot,  Councilwoman Darla Reppe, Councilman David Larsen, Councilwoman Cyndi Peeples. Councilman Lukas Dreisen and City Attorney Sam Nelson.

Agenda Item # 3 Approval of the agenda was called (01:16.93).  There was discussion of a change/addition to the agenda but was not acted upon.  Judge for yourselves folks. (01:30.70)  Does adding an executive session to Agenda item 10(f) constitute a change?  I think it does.  Note Mayor Haeder’s reaction to this news (01:56.07), it is the Mayor job to set the agenda.

Agenda Item #4 – Public Input – was called (03:03.27) with two responses.  Vickie Larsen (03:05.40) presented items of interest Pig Ordinance, Crosswalk at Lincoln and Jefferson, Redistricting, No city video on city website, city website not current, water cost raises may be in error due to previous rural water loan and Mayor Haeders remarks regarding wasting time. (04:57.70)

Reporter Gordon Richard (05:22.17) asking for the official date of opening of the Alcester Community Center.

Agenda Item #5 – Council vacant seat candidates.  None

Agenda Item #6307 Iowa Street nuisance – Legal updates (06:39.07)

Agenda Item #7 – Redistricting of District #16  Motion was received to prepare a Resolution for no change to the District 16 Boundaries.

Agenda Item #8 – Chairpersons updates of departments. (15:34.40)

a) Street Department- Councilwoman Linda Talbott gave an update on the desire to bid at Auction on a used snow plow/truck.  (16:42.13)  Bookkeeper Jurrens butted into the discussion to display her expertise of “Cats, Macs and Sterling Snowplows” Oh My!  Bidding ends October 28th. 

The Mayor Haeder diverted from the agenda to discuss upcoming reviews of employees.  Folks here is your chance to voice your opinion on employee performance and behaviors.  Contact the Mayor.

b)  Cemetery – no report

c)  Water/wastewater –  (25:10.93) The city failed to pass water quality due to Toxins present.  Another test will be performed.  This test uses (25:49.30)  a bioassay using the Daphnia Magna’s  super sensitivity to toxins in monitoring water quality.  Daphnia Magna, Order Cladocera is a fresh water crustacean carrying the common name of water flea solely due to its appearance and jerky movement through the water resembles that of a land flea but has no biological connection to the Flea, Order Siphonaptera.

d)  Police  Update –

e)  Library Update – Handicap button arrived for installation for handicap access.

f)  Golf Course – slow to no patronage.

g)  Finance Office – Flitting like a flea doing “construction things”.  Why and with what ‘expertise’?  (37:17.47)

Agenda Item #9 – (38:06.87) On Call Pay  Police Chief Austin Schuller presented his claim asking for his unpaid on call time of  $1.36 per hour compensation for his on call status. Folks as the council tried to grasp of paying their chief of police what was due him and I suspect what was withheld from for Police Chief Christie by Finance Officer Jurrens and Mayor Haeder.  Listen carefully to the discussions at (51:41.80), (55:47.77), (1:01:56.80), (1:03:04.47), ( 1:03:25.23) and (1:04:15.87).  Now pay special attention to finance office assistant Wanda Halverson.  Where does Wanda get off comparing her duties of filing, sweeping and shopping with the duties and obligations of law enforcement? 

          I would quote from the 2020 city personnel policy, “Policy 5:  Hours of Work – 5.6 ON CALL TIME:  ‘Police Department:  The Chief of Police  (not the mayor, not the finance officer nor Wanda Halverson)will schedule on-call time.  Officers who are on-call will comply with the same standard of care and conduct as the on-duty officers.  While on-call, officers will remain within 15 miles of the City of Alcester, and avoid situations where they would not be able to receive and respond to calls from dispatch.

          Officers who are on-call will respond to calls for police services as quickly and as safely as possible.  When responding to calls for police services, officers will consider the nature of the call, the need for immediate assistances, road conditions, weather conditions, traffic conditions and other circumstances that may pose risks to public safety.  Response times will reflect these conditions.'”

Agenda Item #10 – Community Center (1:14:17.37) Note the motions to hire personnel, pay for equipment purchase of TV, Grills, Griddles and stand.  Then we get to the conundrum of the great Coke Sponsorship.  (1:30:13.63)  Quid Pro Quo?  As I researched this ‘wind-fall’ I found this involves an application.  So who filled out the application?   I noted Coke had a Covid type sponsorship which FOPat seems to gravitate toward.  Anyhow, when she said the magic number of  $135,000.00 +/- to be delivered in two installments of $67.000.00 just reached up and grabbed Mayor Haeder by his spend-nerve.  Now folks there is a contract Coke requires for participation, a rather lengthy, provocative and naturally favors Coke.  Alcester city attorney Sam Nelson read the contract and expressed his concern over several items contained within the contract language. 

          Needless to say, here is where the unapproved agenda change comes in.  City Attorney Sam wanted to ‘talk’ in Executive Session and so the Motion so Councilman David Larsen could listen to a ten minute explanation of Attorney Sam’s concerns.  The council went into Executive Session at 7:34 p.m. and was back out at 8:02 p.m. some 30 minutes later.  So at (1:35:00.07) the motion was called to allow Mayor Haeder to sign this great sponsorship deal upon advice of city attorney Sam Nelson’s opinion of form and manner.  Yup the council voted to blindly allow Mayor to sign us up for gosh only knows what. 

Agenda Item #11 – Finance Office 

City Offices will be closed on October 22, 2021, so our Finance Officer and her minion may ‘work’ on cleaning and prepping the Great Alcester Albatross for its first event. (1:44:54.40)  Before that event can take place the place must be inspected to satisfy fire code.   H-m-m  (1:45:54.83)

Agenda Item #12Executive Session  Not needed

Agenda Item #13  – Adjourn  –  Meeting adjourned at 8:16 p.m.

Folks it is past time for the removal of Ms. Jurrens as finance officer!  Her review is imminent, let the council and mayor know how you feel.  We have lost two Police Chiefs due to her interference, we have lost at least three council members who worked for the people and now we are in danger of losing more law enforcement due to the lamentable lack of controls over the finance office.  We have a large number of residents who cannot afford the fees, street taxes and water fees levied against them and who have no one to speak for them. 

          We now have an albatross wrapped around our collective necks, with a business plan designed apparently to just break even or if we are really unlucky goes bust leaving us with an empty event center with no community in it!  We have allowed the city to run competition to several businesses in the bar and restaurant fields which effectively shuttered those businesses.  With the shuttering of those businesses we lost sales tax revenues, when we allow stand-alone garages in residential zones (i.e. a $25K garage instead of a $100K home) we lose property tax revenues and property values, when we cannot attract businesses to town we cannot offer jobs and our homes lose their value.

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 Lukas Driesen

Patricia Jurrens                                  605-934-2517

10/04/2021 A Voice From the Gallery

Mayor  Haeder called the October 4, 2021, city council meeting to order with the Pledge of Allegiance.  Council members present were Councilwoman Linda Talbot,  Councilwoman Darla Reppe, Councilman David Larsen, Councilwoman Cyndi Peeples and City Attorney Sam Nelson.

Agenda Item #3 – Approval of  the agenda.  (00:55.80)

When I pulled the agenda, I noticed errors and violations in it.  I e-mailed my concerns to the council to make sure it was amended.  Public input was placed as agenda item #9 after Agenda Item #5 Variance, after Agenda Item #6 Variance, after Agenda Item #7 changes to District 16, and after Agenda Item #8 Interviews of  Ward II and Ward III vacancy candidates.  Agenda Items #5, #6, #7 and #8 all required the public opportunity to speak to their content.  In addition the council was acting as the Planning & Zoning board for the two variances which the agenda failed to note.  The Planning & Zoning Board is called to order, call the two variance questions, discussing the merits, then vote to recommend the variances to the city council.

          Under the 2018 Revised Alcester Zoning Regulations Chapter 15,

15.04  Variances  The Zoning Board shall have…For purposes of this Ordinance, public interest shall include the interests of the public at large within the City, not just neighboring property owners…”

 SDCL 11-4-17

(1) Hear and decide appeals where it is alleged there is error in any order, requirement, decision, or determination made by an administrative official in the enforcement of this chapter or of any ordinance adopted pursuant to this chapter;

(2) Authorize upon appeal in specific cases such variance from terms of the ordinance not contrary to the public interest, if, owing to special conditions, a literal enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance will result in unnecessary hardship and so that the spirit of the ordinance is observed and substantial justice done; and(3) Hear and determine conditional uses as authorized by the zoning ordinance. The uses shall be determined by an affirmative majority vote of the present and voting members of the board of adjustment. (SDC 1939, § 45.2607; SL 2000, ch 69, §62; SL 2015, ch 72, §8; SL 2021, ch 55, §6.Amended by S.L. 2021, ch. 55,s. 6, eff. 7/1/2021.Amended by S.L. 2015, ch. 72,s. 8, eff. 7/1/2015.)”

in addition further requires the following:

C.      Required findings for the Granting of a Variance:

          In granting a Variance, the Zoning Board of Adjustment shall affirmatively determine that all of the following criteria are met:

          1.  Literal interpretation and enforcement of the provisions of this Ordinance create an “unreasonable hardship” by depriving the landowner of the ability to reasonably use his or her lot for those principle uses  authorized in the particular district in which the lot is located.

          2.  A variance shall be granted only where the physical conditions of the lot (including but not limited to irregularly shaped, narrow, shallow, steep, etc.) directly result in the unnecessary hardship.

          3.  The variance request is not seeking to allow a principal or accessory land use otherwise excluded from the particular district in which the lot is located.

          4.  The variance granted is the minimum variance that will alleviate the unnecessary hardship.

          5.  Granting the variance will comply with the general purpose and intent of this Ordinance, and will not be offensive or unfairly burden neighboring properties or the public welfare generally.

It is my belief that these required findings for granting the Variance be enumerated and documented in the variance, point by point signed by the Mayor and attested to by the Finance Officer.

So suggestion were made to move Agenda Item #10 to the Agenda Item #7B position (01:06.73) and to move Agenda Item #9 between Agenda Item #4 and Agenda Item #5 (01:45.83) So with those suggested amendments to agenda approval the motion was called and unanimously approved.

Agenda Item #4  – Approval of the minutes of September 7 and September 20 council meetings.  Vote was unanimous to approve.

Agenda Item #9 Public Input  

( 06:06.77)I responded with comments and questions on the Christensen lawsuit (0:06:18.70) which has not yet been settled, the 307 Iowa Street issue (06:27.00) which has not resulted in litigation yet still requires legal attention, I asked for the (0:07:30.90)pig ordinance number and ultimately for a copy of that ordinance which City Attorney Sam echoed his request, I asked about my Credit Card FOIA  access and I asked about the Samsung Tablets (07:47.23)   Specifically why Former Councilman Keiser did not receive one particularly when he was unable to make the meetings in person, a situation the council was made aware of when they appointed him.  FO Jurrens responded (08:20.40) that she had asked him but he did not take it.  I find this hard to believe and indeed when I double checked for accuracy his answer gave lie to FO Jurrens response.  Mayor Haeder asked Council members Reppe, Larsen, and Talbott if they had received the Samsung Tablet.  They replied they had.  Of course they did, ’cause Mr. Johnson and Mr. Keiser were not on the council yet.  I asked this because one of those Samsung tablets was never offered to me, s-o-o evidently my tenure as councilwoman was never considered anything but brief so why waste a tablet on me.

Ms. Cosette Heman responded to public input praising the cemetery care. 

(09:15.93) Councilman David Larsen responded to get the word out the ‘Community Center’ was in need of wait staff.

Agenda Item #5   – Variance (10:14.43)   310 Union  Joe Constance property.  Discussion took place and at motion was made to approve the variance.  Vote was taken (11:58.07)  with Mayor Haeder announcing approval of the variance.  Wrong Mr. Mayor, this was the Planning & Zoning Board, they can only vote to recommend to the city council.  This is an appointed Board and can only recommend. 

Agenda Item #7 – Redistricting of District 16.  (13:30.67)  This was something no one really knew much about.  Received a call from one of the Union County Commissioners on Friday asking the issue be placed before the city.  (13:41.09)  There was a map of the suggested re-alignment of District 16 but unfortunately not a certified map so no real basis on which to make any kind of judgment.

Agenda Item #6 – Variance  (29:51.80) 406 Broad Street  Josh and Audri Carlson.  Councilman David Larsen moved to AGAIN to approve the variance, NOT to recommend the variance to the city council. (31:28.23) Council votes to approve the variance instead of recommending to the council.

Agenda Item #10 – Legal Update on 307 Iowa issue. (32:51.43)  At (32:31.90) FO Jurrens wants an Executive Session to discuss her concerns.  Kind of late for that, don’t cha think?  Council goes into Executive Session with FO Jurrens SDCL 1-25-2.3 at 6:33 PM and discuss and discuss while those of us exiled into the hallway and did not have a phone to play with like Wanda, stood around.  Finally the council came out of Executive Session at 7:22 PM .  City attorney Sam Nelson made his escape for his 7:00 PM appointment.

Agenda Item #9 – Public Input – (32:31.90) Police Department report.  This should have had its own agenda item but the agenda was royally screwed up and failed to specifically place the Police Department.  Police Chief Austin Schuller gave his report.

Agenda Item #8( 37:15.73) Ward II and Ward III vacancy candidate interviews.  (37:40.67)  Ward II had no candidates or applicants for the vacated seat.  (38:03.07)  Ward III had two applicants for the vacant seat, Lukas Driesen and Vickie Larsen.  (39:12.10)  The council moved into Executive Session at 7:26 PM to conduct the interviews.  Ready, set, go for it.  Mr. Driesen was first to interview at 7:30 PM , then at 7:40 PM it was my turn.  Once the door clicked shut I was immediately asked the question, “…if you are appointed will you stop your blog…?”  I answered no but I would not critique city employees but I would share my opinions and then watched the faces.  I was accused of disseminating mis-information, alluding and accusatory comments.  I informed him that I double check anything I print for accuracy and I asked him what false information was I passing along.  There was the $500,000.00 debt that I disagreed with and evidently it is my fault people are asking tough questions.  I see the “Community Center” (the city of Alcester) is running direct competition with the other food and liquor providers in town.  Why didn’t the Community Center/City of Alcester lease the ‘restaurant’ to a restaurateur/chef instead of paying a hourly rate?  Yeah the city has all those donations, donations with strings and etc.  Once that building is built and the donations have been spent, just where is the income going to come from to keep the Community Center a viable business.  Just like a perpetual care cemetery, what happens when the cemetery runs out of land and has no income to pay the bills, what happens to a $3 million dollar building when the golf course and restaurant cannot pay the bills.  WHO PAYS?   It appears NOW as well as October 7th of last year I am not allowed to have my own opinion or vote anything other than the ‘party line’.  I have a problem indebting my fellow taxpayers to the tune of half a million dollars plus.  I explained what I had in mind for the long run for the community but I would not stop my blog.  I was told that he could not vote to seat me.  So be it.  The folks on the west side of town can come and look at the new asphalt for the Community Center and compare their gravel streets.  Congratulations Lukas (43:02.97) 

Agenda Item #11  Community Center (45:02.87)

(45:16.97)   The final bill for the kitchen equipment has come due. $11498.84.  Motion to pay.  (47:17.77)  Councilwoman Reppe asked Councilman Larsen to explain about the Community Center Funding.

(50:14.00)  Motion to hire Clint Nyreen at $18.50 per hour plus South Dakota Retirement and single health care. 

(52:50.57) Motion to hire wait staff, dishwasher cum plate scraper at minimum wage $9.45 per hour.  (54:32.43)

Agenda Item #12  – Library Door

Motion to pay 1/2 cost of repair to ADA accessibility.  $1250.00 city share.

Agenda Item #13 – Finance Office

Approve the warrants, approve and update volunteer roster and amend the credit cards.

Agenda Item #14 – Executive Session SDCL 1-25-2.1 Personnel   In Session at 8:20 PM…out of Session at 8:59 PM.

NON-Agenda Item #15  – Not approved Executive Session asked for by Wanda Halvorson.  SDCL 1-25-2.1 Personnel   In Session at 9:00 PM…out of Session 9:12 PM.

Agenda Item #16 – Adjourn  9:13 PM

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 Lukas Driesen

Patricia Jurrens                                  605-934-2517