The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

La Harpe Council Hires New Attorney; Replaces McElhinney with Rankin, Saves City Thousand

By Michael Rodeffer, The Quill

La Harpe City Council Hires New Attorney, New Water and Sewer Operator

In a 3-1 vote, the La Harpe City Council, Monday evening, voted to replace a $5,000 a month water operator they were planning to sign a contract with, with a man willing to do the job for around $2,000.

Leading up to the vote, attorney Diane Diestler explained that Mayor Ryan Kienast had to exercise his emergency powers to secure a water operator because reports needed to be sent to IEPA on April 10th.

According to Attorney Diestler, a contract had been signed by Alderman Bennett, head of the Water Committee, and Mayor Kienast and attested by Alderman Stiller to hire Brian McElhinney for a 3 year contract.

Alderman Wisslead and Kraft had not been talked to about this.

The attorney then asked for a motion to ratify the agreement with McElhinney.

Alderman Greg Wisslead objected saying he felt this contract had been signed prematurely. He stated, "they had another offer, in fact a gentleman here tonight, that's willing to sign a contract with us. I think that's the route we ought to go for a fraction of the cost."

Dennis Rankin of Roseville, was introduced to the council by Alderman Kraft and Alderman Wisslead.

Rankin stated that he would be glad to try and help out. He mentioned he had worked for Roseville for 25 years and also takes care of Media and Raritan's water system. He said he also has a sewer license.

After some discussion, Alderman Darrel Kraft said, "I think as a small town:I think we need to be saving what money we can....this is another choice we have."

After he verified what his fees would be, and said he could work with EPA and found them very easy to work with, and more intense discussion, the council finally voted to approve a contract with Mr. Dennis Rankin as the water operator by a 3-1 vote. Alderman Stiller was the lone "no" vote.

The council then voted to approve a contract with Mr. Dennis Rankin as the wastewater operator again by a 3-1 vote. Stiller again, voted against this.

A representative from EPA and the EPA attorney also attended the event.

The attorney spoke saying there was no time a city can be without a licensed water operator and wasn't sure where they got the 14 days they thought they could. He said their office was there to help and work with cities and answer questions.

In other action the council unanimously approved.

1. the Resignation of City Attorney Diane Diestler

2. the Hiring of a new City Attorney, Christopher Scholz of Quincy, effective April 11th. He is 59 and has been practicing as a third generation attorney for almost 30 years.

3. Resolution #2017-0 (required by law) re-imbursments of travel expense

4. to pay $500 to Dave Berlet toward the cost of sidewalk replacement

5. the renewal of liquor licenses for R B's Pitstop-class A, R & M Market-class B, and Casey's-class B.

6. Resolution #2017-G

7. the treasurer's report and to pay all bills.

There was some public comment and Dave Clover questioned how a mayor could exercise his emergency powers, when he created the emergency by firing Graves.

There was other public comment and at one point, Tim Graves was ushered out of the meeting by Deputy Jason Livingston, and the crowd was warned if there were further outbreaks they would all be ushered out.

The meeting began at 7:00 p.m. with council members Marcia Stiller, Darrell Kraft, Greg Wisslead, Mike Bennett, and Mayor Ryan Kienast, and Clerk Lucretia McPeak answering roll, and with an over-capacity crowd at City Hall attending-70 upstairs and 8 down.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:20 p.m..