The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

La Harpe City Council

Personnel and Water Issues Dominate; Lots of Talk, Little Action

by Deb Olson, Hancock County Quill Reporter/Office Manager

Monday, December 19, was the deadline for filing nomination papers for 6 La Harpe city positions. Needed are 5 Aldermen and 1 Treasurer.

As of the deadline, only one set of papers had been filed. In reporting this, City Clerk Lucretia McPeak asked that the council "get its act together and make changes."

McPeak also stated that the council's dysfunction is "not good for the community."

Without candidates to run in the April election, a judge would be called upon to fill the seats by appointment, according to City Attorney Diane Diestler. As it stands now, the council barely has the quorum needed to conduct business.

Added to this was the nullification of the appointment of long-time La Harpe resident Dan Gillett to the empty Third Ward council seat which was vacated by Dave Mershon's move out of his ward earlier this fall.

City Attorney Diestler noted that "State law requires that an appointment be made by a mayor or acting mayor, and not the temporary chair or mayor pro tem: because the mayor did not initiate the appointment, the council must vote to nullify it."

The difference between an acting mayor and a mayor pro tem was explained by the attorney in this way. An acting mayor is one who is appointed after the resignation or death of a current mayor.

A mayor pro tem is defined as one who temporarily is appointed to fill in at a meeting in the absence of the current mayor.

In addition to nullifying the appointment, the council also took action to go back and ratify council actions in which Gillett participated in voting.

Mayor Ryan Kienast again proposed Karlene Kurtz to fill the vacant 1st ward position left by Kenny Foster's resignation. Aldermen Greg Wisslead, Mike Bennett and Daryl Kraft all stated they were not yet ready to approve this appointment and asked more time to think about it.

The resignation of Treasurer Jennifer Ewing has left a void in the city's ability to pay bills. That being the case, the council voted to hire Ewing as a contract worker to guarantee bills are paid on time.

Following this action, Ewing was presented with three bills to be paid from McClure Engineering including:

During public comments, Daryl Spangler reported that due to the lack of a Treasurer, he has been unable to get his pension. Alderman Stiller has agreed to look into this.

Also in public comments, Dave Clover stated that he tried to persuade others to run for open seats, but most refused to do so, because they don't wish to serve with the current mayor. He stated that this disgust is also why people no longer attend council meetings.

Max Owsley, liason to ESDA, asked about several books, including the 2010 Risk Assessment Manual and a resource manual, which should be on the mayor's desk. He also noted that since the mayor has not been attending required ESDA meetings, it is likely that the city will not receive help in case of a disaster.

Aldermen Wisslead, Bennett and Kraft replied that they too had trouble persuading people to run and found that it was unwillingness to serve with the current mayor that had made other citizens refuse to take out papers.

The council requested up-to-date billing info from City Attorney Diestler. She responded that health issues and work for 6 other towns has contributed to the delay. Where in the beginning she anticipated working 5-10 hours a month, she now spends about 1 to 5 hours a week on La Harpe city business.

In other business:

Approximately 25 people were in attendance.

The meeting finally adjourned at 10:20 p.m.

The next meeting is scheduled for January 9th at 7:00 p.m. at the La Harpe Clubhouse.

Resignation Letter of La Harpe's 3rd City Treasurer

Jennifer Ewing filed December 8, 2016:

I am resigning as Treasurer of La Harpe effective immediately. I have shared many times my concerns over the city's financial burdens. We are not working for the good of the city.

We are not building each other up, we are placing blame on things that have happened in the past. I feel that I have tried to the best of my ability to make this situation work. However, until the council is ready to start putting this community's best interest at heart, we will never grow.

I cannot continue to attend meetings, where the Mayor is not present. I cannot continue in good faith paying the Mayor for meetings he is not attending. I cannot in good faith, sit back and hope we have enough money to continue to run this city responsibly. We have meetings and discuss the same issues over and over with no true resolution. I want to see our community grow.

I want to be a part of something positive.


/s/ Jennifer Ewing