The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

La Harpe City Council Seats New Board

by Michael Rodeffer, The Quill Reporter

The newly seated La Harpe City Council (Brian Covert, Dave Clover, Randy Shumaker, Katherine Hasten) told Tim Graves he could return to work starting tomorrow morning (Tuesday, at 7 a.m.) The new council said Graves (who had been fired at a meeting on March 28th with Mayor Kienast, council woman Stiller) was not terminated properly. Dave Clover stated, "according to personnel policy dated March 9 2009 it is suppose to be approved by the council, which it never was." Clover added, "Let it be known the mayor is to leave him alone."

By consensus the new council felt Graves should get his back pay and not have to do a daily report. The council expressed their confidence in Graves and water operator Dennis Rankin being able to work well together. Rankin agreed.

Mayor Kienast appointed Deanna Stambaugh to fill the Ward 1 vacancy and was unanimously approved by the new council.

The McElhinney issue was again discussed. Attorney Scholz explained he had informed McElhinney by letter that since there was no legal contract that had been approved by the council, he would not be getting a 30 day notice. The attorney, in his letter, suggested to McElhinney that he submit a bill for the value of his services to the council.

McElhinney was originally given a $5,000 check by the mayor. The new council is going to try and recoup most of that money back.

The outgoing council (Bennett, Kraft, Wisslead, and Stiller) approved paying all regular bills and the December 2016 bill for $2,062.50 from the previous attorney (Diane Diestler). The council is going to leave Diestler's bills (of which some were turned in as late as Sunday) for the new council to review. Those bills are for January thru April 2017 and total $8,337.50.

The outgoing council also approved unanimously; A. Payment of estimate number 1 for Laverdiers for water main project. B. Payment of McClures invoices. C. Authorization of McClure Engineering to apply for a waste water NPDES permit. This expires after 5 years and has not been updated since 2007. D. Repair or replacement of broken sewer line on south 6th street up to $5,000. E. A motion to ratify a agreement to operate water treatment plant and a revised certified operator contract.

Councilwoman Stiller announced the WIRC would be in town to meet with applicants for housing grants. On checking with the WIRC office the correct date is May 16th from 9 to 3 at La Harpe City Hall.

Stiller also informed new council and treasurer of annual treasurer's conference which would be held in Carthage. Any council members or treasurer could take this training seminar.

It was noted May 12th is city wide clean up day.

Attorney Scholz reported he was in contact with the attorney generals's office and had some positive feed back. Scholz stated the AG office was watching the city, IEPA violation notices very carefully and will withhold any legal action against the city as long as the city is moving forward with it's efforts to bring the water plant back into compliance.

Police Chief JustinLivingston advised he had replaced the truck battery which had gone bad and ordered pants and hats for Larry. Livingston also added that Kenny Foster had passed his gun course and was now working for the city.

Water operator Dennis Rankin mentioned a motor was not working at one of the water plants.

Bennett had mentioned that Dennis Rankin had told him there were two valves not working. The valves help automate the plant so without the valves working it takes more manual hours. Bennett also had a list of things from Rankin for the new council to be made aware of.

Marilyn Lewis asked the outgoing council why she should have to pay a $150 water deposit when she is only moving three doors down at the senior apartments. She said she had paid a deposit several years ago. The council agreed she should not have to pay and they would take care of it.

Bart Thompson asked to have money appropriated so there would be funds available if he puts a sidewalk in.

New councilman Randy Shumaker asked some of the outgoing council for the status of the four story demolition in process and the depleted buildings on Main Street. After some discussion it was decided to look into the owners of the buildings and go from there.

Shumaker also hoped to update the City of La web page.

Following the completion of the old business, the board was adjourned sine dine. At that time the new council members, along with the new treasurer, Crystal Graves, was sworn in.

There were approximately 50 people in attendance.

Rumors Of Problems After Graves Returns

Tuesday morning, May 9th, (the following day after the meeting) Tim Graves was allegedly told by the Mayor, ryan Kienast that he could go home, as he did not feel he was a city employee.

There were other rumors that the police were called by the Mayor and claims of Graves saying he had received the city truck keys from the police chief, but the Mayor was accusing him os staling the city truck.

A call to Mayor Kienast Tuesday evening to verify the rumor received no response. A special meeting may be in the works to discuss the issues.