The Hillsboro citizens who addressed the Hillsboro City Council during their meeting on Tuesday, July 13, were there on business and on the agenda, not in the Public Comment section, so the gathering was more harmonious than some in the past.
Tori O’Dell, speaking on behalf of Imagine Hillsboro, had three requests and a duty. Because the Farmer’s Market the group sponsors has outgrown Lincoln Plaza, O’Dell asked that part of Main Street be closed for the market this Saturday, July 17; the permission was granted by a 5-0 vote.
Also granted unanimously, was permission per Ms. O’Dell’s request for future closings of Main Street. The Imagine Hillsboro group wants to bring back a crowd pleaser, hospital bed races, for the Shop Hillsboro day on Saturday, Aug. 21. The race, which involves pushers propelling hospital beds with patients riding on them, will require use of South Main Street from NAPA to Sweet Addictions; in turn, that portion of South Main will be closed from 3 to 8 p.m. that afternoon. Races (two beds per heat) begin at 4 p.m.
Her last request was to close South Main Street for the Story Book Christmas Festival on Saturday, Dec. 4; that event will include a Christmas parade. The hours of closure will be from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m.
Ms. O’Dell’s duty was as press photographer. She took the photo of Cary Eisentraut, representing the Parks and Recreation Committee of Imagine Hillsboro, accepting personal checks from Mayor Don Downs and the council members for renovation work to be done at Central Park; no city money will be spent on that project, so the committee is depending upon private/corporate gifts.
Patrick Ward asked for permission for the Montgomery County CEO to use Lincoln Plaza on Monday, Aug. 16, for a pop-up meeting. The meeting will be in the Coop, immediately west of the plaza, but the group wanted spill-over space to use if attendance is as large as they hope. That permission was also granted unanimously.
Auxiliary Police Chief Jeff Knodle asked the council to amend his organization’s by-laws in hopes of attracting recruits for the group. At the moment, they have seven volunteers, including himself; it could have 28. The chief said young people (the minimum age is 18) who hoped to enter law enforcement once began their careers in the auxiliary, using current Hillsboro Police Chief Randy Leethan as an example, but in our current culture, fewer people want to be in law enforcement.
His request of the council was to change the residency requirements from “...must live in Hillsboro...” to “must live in Montgomery County,” to widen the pool of candidates. Commissioner Kendra Wright asked if that would be enough; Knodle said they had feelers from a few people who live outside city limits, so he hoped so. Earlier in the meeting, when requests for street closures were discussed, the importance of the Auxiliary serving during special events was stressed. The by-law was amended.
A request from the HJHS Cheer Squad to host a 5K fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 14, was pulled from the agenda because no one had spoken to Chief Leetham about specific details. Pulling the motion means it can be brought to the agenda again if all the requirements are met before another meeting.
The council approved paying June bills due in July totalling $409,221.72; the vote was 4-0, with Commissioner Daniel Robbins abstaining.
Matt and Nancy Stoverink, who live at 99 Glenn Eagles Lane, had made a request for 150 to 200 tons of riprap to use at the shoreline of their property, which borders Lake Glenn Shoals. In addition to the rock, the couple requested two rolls of fabric underlayment. In return, the Stoverinks will supply the heavy equipment and labor to put the riprap in place. Parks Superintendent Jim May suggested the city issue directions as to how the riprap should be installed, and the request was approved 5-0.
Utilities Commissioner Wright moved to approve the fourth year (of a five year) contract with Woodard and Curran to oversee the water and sewer services. Tim Ferguson was present to answer questions; the cost to the city will be up 1.35 percent because of rising chemical costs. Wright’s motion passed 5-0.
The council also approved of changing the assignment of the lease for 201 Lakewood Drive from the estate of the late Paul Londrigan to Brian and Kathy Guthrie. City attorney Kit Hantla had reviewed the necessary paperwork; approval was unanimous.
The city will soon own its own vacuum excavator to use in the Street Department. The department had asked for a new backhoe in its budget; then a representative of Vermeer Midwest suggested this machine would better meet the city’s needs for less money. A three-week demonstration period showed the excavator was quicker and more efficient in finding water mains, a primary need in the foreseeable future. It was also, at $81,000-plus dollars, considerably cheaper than a new backhoe would have been. In other Street Department news, the council approved resurfacing the North parking lot (between Berry and South Broad streets) and the area around the Red Rooster Inn. DeLaurent Construction will do the work. That vote was 4-0, with Wright abstaining.
Wright, the newly appointed council member, has spent time diving into the city code; as a result, she pointed out that it’s hard to find changes,which have been made because revisions to the code have not been documented in the code as they were made. She also noticed the code was to be reviewed every five years. City Clerk Cory Davidson indicated that professional work on the code is rather expensive, so it’s been a budget concern that has prevented the five-year guideline compliance.
Wright also moved to amend Section 1-2-45, Letter d–the section that deals with how much a commissioner or department supervisor can spend at one time without full council approval. Before the amendment, the amount either could spend individually was $500; together it was $1,000. Wright felt that wasn’t enough in today’s economy.
Finance Commissioner Katie Duncan suggested doubling the two amounts to see if that would alleviate emergency situations; the council agreed to that amendment.
As the last formal action of the meeting, the council approved final payments to the contractor(s)who did rehabilitation of the houses accepted in the first round of HUD grants. The last payment was $16,350 for work done on three houses in the Park Street areas; the city was only the pursekeeper for the Federal grant money.
Parks, Public Properties and Street Department Commissioner Daniel Robbins began department reports. The Parks/Public Properties workers prepared for and cleaned up after Fourth of July activities, made necessary repairs at the pool, and installed the 15-foot H at Central Park.
He reported that Jim May and Thomas Reynolds met with Justin Goodwin of Hurst-Rosche Engineering to discuss options for lowering the water level in Hillsboro Lake so spillway replacement can begin. The crew also continued mowing public properties, serviced the dog park, and did multiple electrical repairs at the campground, Lincoln Plaza, the Sports Complex and Fourth of July Point.
Glenn Shoals Lake also required work: the Marina restaurant required a new air conditioner, a call to Bondurant Plumbing to work on the sewage pump at the Marina, and the removal of water from the dispenser pan of the fuel system. Work at the Glenn Shoals North Access area continues.
The Street Department was also busy. Weeds were trimmed and grass around ponds was mowed; trees were trimmed; brush pickup continued; and the street sweeper was out to help the flow of storm water when heavy rains were predicted. The hydro-vac was used to locate water mains, including one that had been long lost on Huber Drive. Last but not least in importance to city residents, six animal carcasses were retrieved from city streets, including two deer and one snapping turtle.
Public Safety Commissioner Mike Murphy reported that officer John Stretch was retiring from the police department as of Aug. 9. Murphy thanked Stretch for his 23 years of service; he has also served with other police forces in the area. Murphy also thanked May and the Public Properties workforce for the work they did to help make the Fourth of July celebration a success.
He expressed thanks to the Auxiliary Police too; “Hillsboro exists because of events; events exist because of the auxiliary,” he said. Anticipating a presentation later in the meeting, he mentioned that force is now recruiting new members.
Murphy said sidewalk replacement is going well, but Virginia Street sidewalks need help. A vacant house at 140 N. Welch is now up for tax sale, and he asked council members to consider doing something with that opportunity. It has been vacant and in bad shape for several years. He also wants to define fence in the code so residents can understand which materials are suitable for building a fence.
Zoning and Code Enforcement Officer Mike Lee issued five building permits; one vehicle owner was given a 24-hour tow warning. Twelve properties were inspected; six properties are being monitored for clean up; and five abatement notices are under monitoring because of impeding end dates.
Commissioner Duncan said the budget is almost together, but she’s still waiting on some information, which she stressed she must have before budget finalization for public scrutiny. The law requires it be on display for ten days before adoption, and the deadline for final council approval is fast approaching.
Ms. Wright thanked streets Superintendent Justin Chappelear for their quick response to water leaks under the streets. She voiced her concerns about keeping track of updates to the city code. (That concern arose again when the council amended a section of the code.)
Mayor Downs said he’d received several calls over the Fourth about fireworks being used after the permitted hours by private citizens. Calls came from the nursing home on East Tremont and the hospital because of residents/patients concerns. The mayor said ground had been broken for the O’Reilly’s Auto Parts Store in the southern part of town.
He asked that citizens make an extra effort to make the town beautiful for the approaching Old Settlers’ celebration. He also said important people were coming to town to check on our suitability as business sites, so best foot forward is to be the policy.
Community and Economic Planner Jonathan Weyer said the soft opening of the Coop went well. He presented the proposed Economic Development Plan there; as of Wednesday, that plan was to be available on the city’s website. Those who wish a paper copy can request one at city hall. He hopes to have the required Public Comment meeting prior to the council meeting on Tuesday, July 27, prior to the next council meeting.
Weyer said the Montgomery County Economic Development Committee (MCEDC) has filled the needed paperwork for the Center on Rural Innovation Study. He also wrote (in his reports) “I anticipate an announcement from Atlas 46 this month about expansion plans in our city.”
City engineer Jeremy Connor of Hurst-Rosche, reminded those present that a public meeting concerning the Helston Street Sewer Project begins tonight, July 15, at City Hall. The meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., is to answer questions the residents of that section of town may have about construction/repair of the service. Hopefully, the residents most concerned have received their notification by mail because the cards were sent in a timely fashion. Connor also said the required hydraulic report for the Seward Street Budget Project has been submitted to the state as part of Phase I.
The council itself next meets in regular session Tuesday evening, July 27, at 7 p.m. The public is welcome to attend all meetings.