The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Council Discusses Water Issues and A $5,000 Payment

by Michael Rodeffer, The Quill

The La Harpe City Council met at 7:00 p.m. Monday evening (April 24) upstairs at La Harpe City Hall with the Mayor, Clerk, Treasurer, City Attorney, and entire council present and approximately thirty guests.

During public comment, Dave Clover, councilman elect to be sworn in May 8th, brought up several issues.

Clover stated that he didn't believe that the three-year contract that had been signed with Mr. McElhinney was a position where you could do a multi-year contract.

Clover added "I understand there is a check that was given to Brian McElhinney along with a contract that was signed."

He noted that the agenda always has a line for reports to discuss and approved request/expenditures. Clover stated that he wants to see council minutes where you voted to write that check. Clover stated that he has a FOIA request for that check, the expenditure, the contract, and also for the open meeting minutes where the council voted to do both of those things.

He noted, that before the Mayor's water bill was called into question, the city never had any "water" violations for the six or seven years before that.

As Mr. Clover sat down, the new City Attorney Christopher Schoz asked to respond.

Mr Scholz stated that Mr. Clover had contacted him the last two days about the $5,000 payment and the McElhinney contract.

Mr. Scholz reported that he understood that there was a $5,000 check given to Mr. McElhinney when the Mayor and Marcia Stiller met with McElhinney on April 7th at about 5:45 p.m.

Mr. Scholz did state, "I didn't agree that the contract with Mr. McElhinney was necessarily a properly adopted contract:.and that it was not ratified or approved by the council."

Mr. Scholz stated that he had sent Mr. McElhinney a letter advising him that the city had contracted with another operator.

Council elect Katherine Hasten asked the attorney if there was any possible way to get that money back. Mr. Scholz answered that there are ways to try to recover it.

It was determined that Mr. McElhinney possibly could have worked three days from the time of his contract signing on Friday evening until the next council meeting the following Monday evening.

When the Mayor was asked by the Quill reporter, "Why he paid McElhinney the $5,000, Kienast responded, that the money was given to McElhinney as per the contract language.

The mayor was also asked if he thought that in three days, McElhinney had earned $5,000? Kienast said, no, he did not believe he would have earned $5,000.

Council-elect Randy Shumaker asked who negotiated the contract. Mike Bennett said he thought Attorney Diestler and Brian McElhinney had worked out the agreement.

Tim Graves, former water operator, said there was nothing wrong with the surface water plant and it should have been cleaned and started back up instead of letting it sit idle now for more than two weeks.

During the meeting Darrell Kraft informed the council that he had met with Illinois Rural Water and Engineers to discuss La Harpe's two water plants. Everyone felt that the plants were old and outdated and questioned spending very much money on them.

For now, plans are being made to bring the surface water plant back on line after some repairs are made, and several cycles ran through to make sure water is okay before pumping it into town.

One option was for one deep well in the future.

Newly hired city water operator Dennis Rankin stated they were getting the water problems figured out now where workers won't have to put in quite so many hours. He said the two guys you have working for you now (Little and Diewold) are great and have been putting in a lot of hours, he noted.

Rankin also gave the Mayor a list of things that will need to be done in the future.

In other business the council unanimously approved:

The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.