The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

La Harpe Water Issues Continue

by Deb Olson, The Quill

With 34 in attendance, in addition to council members and staff, most of the discussion at Monday May 23rd's La Harpe City Council meeting revolved around both water quality and water department personnel issues.

At 7 p.m., the meeting was called to order by Mayor Ryan Kienast. Roll call indicated that all members except Amy Palmer were present.

The council then went into executive session for personnel reasons from approximately 7:03 until 8:19 p.m.

Stiller reminded those present of a City Wide Clean-Up scheduled for Friday, May 27th.

The Public Properties committee report by Councilman Darrell Kraft led to a discussion of a bid of $11,606.42 received from Tim Andre to put a roof over the stage in the city park. This was the only bid received, as opposed to last year when the council received three bids for the project.

After explaining the specifics of the project, Kraft moved to go ahead and put the roof over the stage of the band shell, however the motion died for lack of a second.

Another bid for a $4,259 dock station at the reservoir was not approved because there was not enough money in a memorial fund intended to cover the cost.

Under Public Safety Kenneth Foster discussed body cameras and armour vests for police, new tires for the police truck as well as problems with the current squad car which is "in the shop more than it is on the road."

Under employee reports, the council discussed acquisition of a porta-potty for the reservoir this summer. It was agreed that it was a neccesity and had been done every year in the recent past.

Attorney Diestler reminded the council that the CCR report, a Consumer Confidence report which is an annual water quality report, needed to go as soon as possible in order to avoid the violation situation that occurred last year.

Kraft also noted that he had talked to Water Superintendent Tim Graves about the quality of the city's water which has recently been the subject of much discussion.

It was noted that while high levels of haloacetic acid had been recently found in the city water, this is not uncommon during periods of excessive rainfall. This led to a discussion of the council's thoughts on rehiring Daniel Carpenter.

Councilman Kraft asked Carpenter where he was with testing for his Class C license. Carpenter replied that he has not yet reached the 70% score required for the license.

When told by Fisher that upon his return he and the council would have to have a talk about attitude.

Carpenter responded that he was making all good effort to pass the test. He also stated, "I don't know why I was let go in the first place." In response, Kraft said it was time to "let bygones be bygones."

New City Attorney Diane Diestler reminded everyone present that it was time to move forward. The rehire will be put on the agenda for the next meeting, but if a motion to rehire does not get the required two thirds vote a notice advertising the position would have to be put in the paper.

Due to the resignations of Mayor Ryan Kienast and Councilwoman Marcia Stiller from the positions of official custodian and administrative contact, respectively for the La Harpe Waterworks, the city attorney stated that the positions had to be filled in order to meet the deadline for submission of the NOROP form to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. After a somewhat heated discussion, Josiah Neff was approved as official custodian and Amy Palmer was appointed as the administrative contact.

In Old Business, the council discussed the early termination proposal submitted by Brian McIlheney as well as compensation of $8,464.75 for service rendered.

McIlheney agreed to termination on May 25th instead of June 9th.

Because of the early termination he agreed to accept $2,464.75 for the month of May in addition to $3,000 each for both March and April.

Kraft moved that these terms be accepted. After Foster's second, the council approved the motion.

Also under Old Business the council agreed to making a final decision on across the board salary increases in July.

In New Business, several items listed on the agenda including new committee assignments, and the decision for improvements to the dog kennel at the city pound were tabled until the next meeting.

The council did set $1,000 as the amount city employees might spend on needed expenses. They also approved Resolution #2016-C to allow the 1 block kid's race and Summerfest parade, a $350 donation for Summerfest Kid's game and approval of a La Harpe Cruise night on September 24th, with the city donating $200 to the event and furnishing a porta-potty.

The council then tabled the discussion on Resolution 2016-D to approve public comments rules and 2016 -3 to repeal and re-enact Chapter 1048.04 regarding water charges until the next meeting in order to allow Attorney Diestler to further investigate previous policy.

In the discussion-only section of New Business, Treasurer Marcia Neff asked for comments on the way information regarding bills was communicated to the council. Councilman Mershon stated he likes the current method of sending copies of bills out to council members by e-mail.

Councilman Foster discussed repairs to a city mower because of a problem with push rods.

There was also a discussion of the need to have weeds in the park pulled. The Love La Harpe group has set the date of June 11th for undertaking this task.

Under public comments three citizens addressed remarks to the council:

Gary Jackson asked the council to consider holding a special meeting to rehire Daniel Carpenter. He also stated that he felt an apology was due to Carpenter . He then asked that everyone involved "just do their jobs."

Delbert Kreps asked that the council purchase microphones so that all in attendance could hear what was said and discussed by the council members. He stated that he too felt apologies were needed.

Connie Williams told the council that as a landlord she felt she should not have to pay the full amount for water at her properties if the Mayor was given special rates.

The meeting adjourned at 9:33 p.m. until the next regular meeting which is set for June 13th at the La Harpe Clubhouse