By Amy Jantzen
The Traer City Council held their regular meeting Monday, April 6 at the Traer Fire Department. The meeting had to be moved due to the amount of citizens attending the meeting.
Mayor Russell Drinovsky called the meeting to order and asked for a motion to approve the agenda, Mark Mason made the motion and Ray Mundt seconded and the motion carried. Mason then made the motion to approve the minutes of the previous meeting and the bills, Jake Schmitt seconded and the motion carried.
Jokers Iron Legend liquor permit was next on the agenda. Mundt made the motion to approve the permit and Schmitt seconded and the motion carried.
Steve Fuller, Director of the Traer Ambulance service was on hand to inform the council of the increase in the ambulance charges that they are implementing. Fuller explained that Medicare allowed a five to seven percent increase and they have decided to increase the fees the full seven percent. Fuller also told the council that these new rates will go into affect July 1, 2009. (See the proposed rate schedule on our website at www.traerstarclipper.com).
Sheriff Dennis Kucera was there to give his monthly report to the council. He said that they had a total of 224 hours of service and 75 calls in Traer for the month of March. Some of the calls consisted of nine public assist, two residential burglaries, one fight at the school, an attempted burglary of a business, 3 domestics, with one resulting in an arrest and two fraud cases.
One of the fraud cases involved an elderly resident that had received a phone call from someone saying it was a grandson that needed help and to send money to Canada. The elderly individual thought that the person sounded like the grandson and after the bank also called the number to verify the situation a sum of $3,000 was wired only to find out later that it was not the individuals grandson. Kucera said that this is becoming a more frequent problem and are having more trouble pursuing them because of border issues.
Kucera also told the council of a new Emergency Communications Network, called Code Red. The system has the capability to make emergency notifications through the internet or telephone. The Emergency calling system would have the ability to make 1000 calls a minute and also have mapping ability. Kucera went on to explain that if Traer had a gas leak on the north side of town and had to have their gas shut off, the system has the ability to call just those residents affected. Tama County would have 30,000 calling minutes available to them a year. The cost of the system is being divided out to the towns in Tama County by population. Broken down it will cost 55 cents per resident. Each town will have a per capita charge to be involved in the program. The cost for Traer would be roughly $900 a year. The council felt that this was a very worth while program to be a part of and agreed to allocate $900 of local option tax money to it a year.
Jeannine Smentek of the Winding Stairs Committee was present to ask the council to donate money to the festival to pay for the inflatables at the festival. Last year the committee asked for $7,090 and this year they are planning on adding an additional inflatable called Safari Toddler Zone, geared more towards the toddler to pre-school age group. The committee had several people request something for that age group. Including that new inflatable to the group is going to cost $8,200. Schmitt made a motion to give the festival the $8,200 out of local option tax money, Mason seconded and the motion carried.
The festival committee also asked the council for permission to close the street from noon Thursday to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday. They explained that the theme this year is Tailgate on Second Street and that the event was going to start on Thursday night at the complex with the Sports awards, slow-pitch softball and an old-timers softball game and then finally ending the evening possible with an outdoor movie.
Joe Morris, owner of State Farm Insurance, was concerned with the earlier time of noon on Thursday to shut down the street, explaining that it is an inconvenience to his customers. Morris said that the time of 5:00 on Thursday was what had been done in the past and would like it to stay that way. The council agreed that 5:00 was early enough and that people usually tried to work around different schedules.
Mayor Drinovsky opened the floor to discuss the gas franchise and after much discussion, the council voted to let TMU continue to explore the natural gas franchise in a three to two vote, with Patty Guzman and Mundt having the nay votes.
City Clerk, Jon Panfil, told the council of the amendments and the reasons for the amendments to the budget for the fiscal year and asked the council to set a date for the public hearing regarding the budget. The council set the date for the public hearing to coincide with their regular meeting, Monday, May 4.
Robert Lee, owner of Dreamland Productions, asked the council if they would consider reserving a parking spot for himself or his customers, in front of his store. He explained that many times he had to carry his glass products to the end of the block to reach his customers cars. The council said that they felt that if they reserved a place for him and his store that they would have similar requests from other business owners on Second Street. Also the ability to police it was a concern. John Novak, city employee, "felt that the street should just stay the way it is."
Sheriff Kucera suggested that when Lee had things to load or unload he block the alley like the semis' do, then move your unit when you are done loading or unloading.
Guzman made the motion to leave the street the way it is, Schmitt seconded the motion and in a three to two vote the motion carried with Mason and Mundt having the nay votes.
Novak gave the council his department report stating that he had a request to put a handicap parking space in front of the theatre. He felt that since the there was already a no parking area in front of the theatre with the curbs cut it would be easy to do. Ellen Young, Traer Community Betterment, told the council that in the museum there is a portable handicap sign that belongs to the theatre. Panfil said that it is illegal to have temporary handicap signs now, they have to be permanent. The council agreed to make a handicap parking space in the front of the theatre.
Novak told the council that they had drained the pool so that some repairs may be done to it and that he had started to get bids for asphalt and curb work.
Novak had a film to show the council of the recent taping that had been done on the sewer pipes that travel parallel to the football field next to Mill Street. The film showed the damage to the eight inch pipe and the amount of ground water that was coming into the pipe. Novak told the council that they were going to replace the entire line which runs on the west side of the football field. They are going to try and do all the digging themselves to cut the cost and are going to replace the line with a 10 inch seamless plastic product. Panfil has applied for a FEMA grant to help offset some of the expenditures.
Panfil told the council that the Mill Street Bridge project was moving forward. He said that they have told the DOT that they would like to go with the engineer and once they are contacted by the DOT they will go into the design process.
Panfil then brought up the ordinance book, telling the council that it has not been updated since 2002 and they should probably be looking at doing that again. Guzman made the suggestion that each council member work on the section of the book that pertains to their individual departments.
Mayor Drinovsky told everyone that he had asked Panfil to look into getting cameras on the streets downtown.
Young told the council that she would be going Wednesday to pick up the check from the Gaming Commission grant money that the Shaker Gallery had been awarded and handed out a report to the council updating them of all of the progress happening around the community.
Guzman asked Young, "Why Lindi Roelofse, Director Tama County Economic Development, was not a United States Citizen?" Young who also sits on the Tama Economic Board told the council that LIndi had immigrated from South Africa and lived in the country for 10 years and was in the process of becoming a citizen.
Guzman asked, "Why do we have someone who is not even a citizen telling us what to do for economic development?", Young replied, "I did not hire her."
Hearing no other matters before the council, Mayor Drinovsky adjourned the meeting.