The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

La Harpe Council Releases 2016 Executive Session Minutes

By: Mike Rodeffer, The Quill

The La Harpe City Council came out of executive session Monday night and released full disclosure of the minutes for executive sessions from March 2016 thru December 19, 2016 with 2 exemptions. The August 22, 2016 minutes will be a partial release and there will be no disclosure for the September 6, 2016 minutes.

The council also approved Kenny Foster as full time police officer at a salary of $32,000 annually. Foster will need to complete a two week training course within six months.

The council also is changing interim Police Chief Larry Finch to full time at a salary of $18,700 annually. Regulations required a police chief to be full time.

Some residents are still asking about the past due water bill of former Mayor Ryan Kienast. The bill in question relates to a 5-6 month period during 2015. Kienast had purchased the apartment buildings on Main Street across from the city park before becoming mayor.

One of the buildings has several apartments but only one water meter for the whole building. In the past each apartment had been billed separately.

So, each apartment dweller was paying the minimum water bill. Any water used in excess of the minimum was billed to the apartment owner.

When Kienast became mayor, he said that he felt this was not right so, he allegedly changed his bill (without board approval) and paid for one water bill, plus any excess water which was a much lower bill and less revenue for the city.

Depending on who read the water ordinance at the time, it was being interpreted different ways.

After several months of disagreement the past city council re-wrote the water ordinance to be more specific.

The present council is now wanting to resolve this issue as several citizens keep questioning them.

Attorney Chris Scholz requested and received an apparent settlement agreement between the city and then Mayor Kienast from the previous City Attorney Diana Diestler.

Clerk Lucretia McPeak stated it was the first time she had seen this and no one could recall it being brought up in an open council meeting. The current council tabled this item so as to have more time to investigate the situation.

The council was reminded of a work day on September 9th at 9:00 a.m. at the City Park to spread mulch around trees, etc. The "Love La Harpe" committee is doing the work and told the council any help would be appreciated.

Clerk McPeak said the city cemetery clean up is from September 15th-September 30th. Anyone wanting any flowers or ornaments should have them picked up before then.

Interim Police Chief Larry Finch said vests have been ordered and the police department had purchased a patrol rifle. Anyone using the rifle would have to be properly trained.

Police officer Kenny Foster said he and Larry thought the radios they now have would be good enough for a couple years, so no need to buy new radios at this time.

The council also approved:

The council also agreed to have Tim order 3 new water meters for approximately $350.

Councilman Randy Shumaker is trying to coordinate a time when the council can meet with IRWA/McClures.

Councilman Brian Covert said a dock at the reservoir which they had been planning to build with memorial money could be done in late September for the same price as quoted earlier in the year. The memorial fund is short several hundred dollars as of now.

The council discussed repairs to one of the street department's pick-ups. Councilman Jerry Burford had looked at it and thought it to be rusted too much to make repairs.

Covert also stated the Dodge police vehicle had needed brakes and was repaired and back in working order.

Attorney Chris Scholz stated he had been in contact with the firm which is encoding the ordinance for the city.

Schulz said he would be in court this Thursday to continue city discussion with Braden Finch (owner of property east of city park which is being torn down).

Schulz also said Tyler Ferguson (owner of one of the hazardous buildings on Main Street) had not been served as he is rarely home.

Councilman Ken Brown thanked the city for their help in getting ready for the car show. Brown said $1,000 was raised and donated to the Honor Flight organization. This money would cover about 3 1/2 trips.

Mayor Kat Hasten reminded everyone that August 31st was the ice cream social a the La Harpe Club House. The time is 5:00-7:00 p.m.

This is sponsored by owner and employees of La Harpe Davier Health Care Center. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to St. Judes.

The meeting adjourned at 10:23 p.m.

Those present were: Mayor Kat Hasten, Councilmen Randy Shumaker, Greg Wisslead, Brian Covert, Dave Clover, Jerry Burford, Ken Brown; Treasurer Crystal Graves; Clerk Lucretia McPeak; Employees Tim Graves, Monalisa Graves, Interim Police Chief Larry Finch, Kenny Foster, ESDA liaison Max Owsley, city auditor Greg Butler, Attorney Chris Scholz and a handful of residents.