The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Council Hires Water Department Employee

La Harpe City Council Has Full Board

by Michael Rodeffer, The Quill

Mayor Katherine Hasten appointed Jerry Burford to fill the open Ward I Alderman position. The position was made vacant from Kenny Foster's resignation.

Burford was unanimously approved and sworn in by Lucretia McPeak. This now gives the City of La Harpe a full council of 6 alderman and a Mayor, Clerk, and Treasurer.

The Council also rehired former employee Daniel Carpenter upon the board's return to regular meeting following a one hour executive session that was held at the end of the meeting.

Carpenter had been fired by the former Mayor Ryan Kienast on December 4th, 2015.

Carpenter was unanimously hired with a start date of July 1, 2017 at an annual salary of $33,000. He will be on a 6 months probationary period and is required to renew his Class C Water License within 6 months. He also is required to obtain his Class B Water License within 1 1/2 years of his start date, and to obtain his Class A Water license within 3 years of his start date.

Upon obtaining his Class B license Carpenter will receive a $2,000 salary increase and after obtaining his Class A license he will receive an additional $2,000 salary increase.

Under old business, Dave Clover brought up the subject of the water audit the former council had approved. Max Owsley had asked about the results of that audit at the last meeting. Neither the Mayor, Clerk, or any Council member could find a copy of the audit in any of the City files.

Mayor Hasten said she had spoken to Robert Gray by phone from the firm of Arnold, Behrens, Nesbit, and Gray P.C. of Quincy, and Gray informed Hasten that they never had done a complete audit.

Mayor Hasten explained to him that they were a new council with a new Mayor and wanted to see a copy of the water audit.

The firm sent a letter stating what the firm had looked into, and that it was confidential between the accounting firm, the former Mayor, and former Council and they no longer had a copy.

Clover read a part of the firm's letter that said, "We were not engaged to and did not conduct an audit." Clover commented: "So, basically what was reported to the council and what the council voted on was not even what they were instructed to do." Clover added, "They were instructed to find something they could not find, and the city (the last council) paid them to do that as a water audit."

That figure for the audit had been estimated at $3,000 to $5,000.

Alderman Greg Wisslead added, "It was a Witch Hunt."

In further action, the Council approved:

Brian Covert reported that he had helped "David" take care of a tree limb at the La Harpe Cemetery.

Under new business, Mayor Hasten stated that she had received a 30 day notice from Water Operator Dennis Rankin to terminate his contract with the city. This will be put on the next agenda for the council to approve.

Mayor Hasten and all council members thanked Mr. Rankin for his assistance when the town was in need of help.

Mr. Rankin said, "You are very welcome. Tim (Graves) has it under control now, so you might as well put the money to some other uses."

The meeting was adjourned at 10:05 p.m. All council was present, some employees and guests with a total of 22 present.

After serving on the La Harpe City Council 18 years, and then off for 18 years, Jerry Burford returns to fill the last seat.