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Kienast Sworn In As New Mayor, Three New Trustees Are Seated

LA HARPE- A packed house witnessed three new council members, and a new mayor being seated Monday eveing in La Harpe. The crowd of about 22, was there to see their long-time Mayor Ken Brown, put down his gavel for the last time after 35 years of service as Mayor and 41 years service to the city he has called home for his lifetime.

Along with Mayor Brown, council members Todd Irish, Brian Lovell, and Mike Bennett finished their final council meeting and turned things over to their replacements, Mayor Ryan Kienast and council members Kenny Foster, Dave Mershon, and Amy Palmer. They join Marcia Stiller, Josiah Neff, and Darrell Kraft who retained their council seats.

Kienast presented the four outgoing individuals (Brown, Irish, Lovell, and Bennett) with watches for their years of service. Brown also received a certificate from Eric Moe of McClure Engineering.

The four have a combined 117 years of service to the city, with Brown at 41 years, Lovell at 32 years, Irish at 24 years, and Bennett at 20 years.

"I said before it would be easy to pick up and go out the door. It's going to be a little rough," said Brown. "Thank you to everyone I worked with on the council. It has been interesting. I enjoyed it."

The former council followed protocol to finish old business before adjourning, and the current council was seated to handle new business.

Old Business:

Water Superintendent Tim Graves reported that new fish were stocked at the reservoir. He ordered 400 fish, but only 300 were available.

Ameren was scheduled to begin working on the electrical power at the city park Tuesday. The work includes adding plugins to the stage. The company also plans to be in La Harpe in the near future for tree trimming.

Work is ready for the retaining wall project on G Street Street, according to Superintendent Wayne Humphrey. Moe said the project can only be paid for with Motor Fuel Tax funds if the city approved a maintenance program for this year. He plans to set one up with Humphrey by the next meeting.

A second pay estimate to Midwest Bridge & Crane, Inc. for $53,300.36 was passed by the council. This completes the intersection project payment except for a 10 percent retainer the city is withholding until all the final paperwork is completed.

Also, the Council approved paying McClure Engineering $13,000 for its engineering expenses related to the intersection work. Originally the estimate was for $10,000, but McClure Engineering incurred additional costs of $6,000 due to the project's delay from last fall. Moe said part of that delay was their fault, particularly in being late in requesting a power pole be moved. He asked the council to split the difference at $13,000.

It was noted that Police Chief Justin Livingston can go directly to City Attorney Kurt Dittmer about any property with weeds and grass that is taller than eight inches. It was explained to Livingston, that he needs to follow up with the Public Works Committee to keep them informed. Otherwise, he does not need to check with them first.

Brown said Larry Finch previously had received a grant through the Department of Justice to buy a new police car. This avenue will be explored again as the city looks for grant money for a new police vehicle.

The latest round of delinquent water bills are due this week.

The council was informed that Daniel Carpenter plans to take his Class A license test in July. He attended training earlier this year and did not take the test at that time. The money paid by the council for that exam covers the July exam. Carpenter has his Class C license and is required by the city to receive his Class A license to work at the water plant.

The council accepted the official vote tally of the April election.

Mayor Brown said he is leaving the U.S. and Illinois flags in the council chambers. Brown donated them to the council in the memory of his father, Lawrence Brown, a World War II veteran.

Once City Clerk Lucretia McPeak and Treasurer Marcia Neff were sworn in, the former council adjourned and the current council was sworn in to conduct new business.

New Business:

An offer by Trevor Finch to haul away trees that were cut down at the Y-intersection near Casey's was turned down by the council due to IDOT's responsibility. The area is under Department of Transportation control, and the tree removal is part of their project to convert the Y-intersection into a T-intersection.

"It's a DOT project, and we can't touch it," said council member Darrell Kraft.

Graves reported that two control panels were replaced at the water plant at a cost of $900. A claim was put in with Ameren, because the cause of the control panel failure is believed to be a power surge.

Graves also said hydrants are being flushed next week.

Police officer Dean Spangler attended the meeting as a resident to ask the council to consider adopting a burn ordinance. The issue was tabled and sent to the Public Safety Committee for discussion.

Resident Maggie Jones asked the council to look at making an ordinance tougher on those who have trash on their properties.

"I'd like to see something with more teeth," she said.

The council approved the two low bids to take down trees. One bid was for $435 by Wever's Tree Service to remove a tree on South C Street. The second approved bid was for $300 by Chris Akers Tree Service to remove a dead tree in the cemetery. Both bids include stump removal.

Livingston is ordering new summer shirts and hats for the police officers.

A budget meeting was scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tues., May 26.

Palmer and Mershon agreed to be the council representatives to help decide whether to keep the LaHarpe Economic Development Association. The group was founded with city money, which was given out as no-interest loans over the years for awnings, a restaurant entrance, and the yearly car show. The group's board has all resigned, and there is still about $9,000 in its account. The general sentiment was to keep the group if people could be found to run it.

LaHarpe Davier Health Care Center is hosting activities for National Nursing Home Week. Thursday is community night with a fiesta from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. All residents are invited to attend.

The next city supervisor's meeting is June 4.

The council cancelled the second meeting of May since it falls on Memorial Day. The next council meeting is Monday, June 8, at 7 p.m. in city hall.

Only council member not in attendance was Josiah Neff.

From left: Kenny Foster, David Mershon, Amy Palmer are sworn in as new trustees and Ryan Kienast as new City Mayor for the La Harpe City Council Monday evening. In the background, retiring Trustee Brian Lovell and Mayor Ken Brown look on.