By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Mike Canfield attended the Parsons City Council meeting with concerns over him plowing the sidewalks and Mill Race Park. He stated he had heard from two city employees that his doing so was causing issues, therefore he felt it best to address the council to verify if they wanted him to discontinue. Jason Myers, the City Administrator, replied he had not heard of any issues or complaints, nor has Mayor Dorothy Judy or any other council members. They thanked Canfield for his work and will be drafting a letter that states he is permitted to continue plowing.
Tom Hodges and Ryan Frazier participated in the meeting representing Ledcor Technical Services, a contractor with Viasat. They had requested leasing a small parcel of city property to potentially offer other internet services to the area. A lease was submitted to Attorney Pat Nichols and thoroughly reviewed. The first 18 months would be served as a testing phase to ensure the feasibility of the project, which the city will receive $400. Once feasibility is determined and construction begins, the lease will transfer into a monthly payment of $400. “This helps the community,” stated Judy. Once discussion ceased, Councilman Tim Auvil made a motion to accept the lease agreement to include the amendments made by Nichols with Councilwoman Melissa Jones offering a second and all in favor.
Also joining the teleconference meeting were Tim and Nancy Oldaker to discuss a property dispute on Haven Street. The homeowners were under the impression their property boundaries extended to the alley, though according to a recent survey, there was a small area of land between the alley and property line that was owned by the city. The council discussed the area in question that they also were not aware they owned and agreed it should belong to the Oldaker’s once Nichols reviewed the deed and survey. A motion was made by Councilman Michael Matlick with the understanding that the city will retain a right of way if a public utility line would need to occupy that area, with a second from Jones. All members voted in favor of the motion.
The minutes from December 15 were approved with one correction noted. Financial Administrator Danielle Sponaugle presented the first invoice for approval for $49,823.17. Auvil made a motion to approve with a second from Recorder Bruce Kolsun with Councilwoman Amy Wagner abstaining. Invoice two was for $401.86 which also passed with Councilman David Greenlief abstaining.
Myers went over the updated Harman Fund Project List, which was acknowledged with a motion by Auvil and Jones. A quote was submitted by Bolyard Construction LLC to enclose the former drive-thru window area of the Parsons City Police Department. “It normally doesn’t get any warmer in there than 62 degrees on a cold day,” explained Myers. To ensure the project completion, Kolsun made a motion to approve the project with a maximum of $3,500 with a second from Auvil and all in favor.
Digital Soup installed new equipment in the council chambers at City Hall to assist with teleconference meetings. While being installed, a quote was received for a micro-computer and cabinet for $965. Kolsun and Auvil made the motions to approve with all in agreement.
Before moving into committee reports, Judy stated, “I am so proud that Kevin (Keplinger) has accepted this job.” Chief Deputy K.L. Keplinger responded he is happy to be in his new position and has some ideas he would like to implement during his tenure. He encouraged the council to bring any suggestions or concerns to him as he takes the reins of the Parsons City Police.
Chief Deputy K.L. Keplinger stated that with the Covid-19 statistics and the lack of PPE equipment, the City Police Department will not be assisting in functions that are not necessary for a law enforcement officer. What he did feel the department could offer is assistance with funeral processions within the city limits. “That’s something that I would like to do as well,” when officers are available, he stated.
Myers informed the council members that as of December 31, 2020, the Harman Fund market value was $19,847,804.99 with the distribution in March totaling about $992,390, down from $1,006,052 from last year. Newsletters from the Mon Forest Towns Initiative and the Highlands Trails were included in the packets for acknowledgment.
The Cares Act is permitting the police department salaries to be applied for reimbursement from March through November. Myers stated that the total requested from the Police Department is $70,830.23. It was also announced that the sanitation worker’s employees can be applied for and will be sent in. Myers encouraged all city employees to get the vaccine when it is available through them and that they would be included in the “first wave” of vaccinations.
The strategic plan from the Parsons Revitalization Organization (PRO) and the Blueprint Community was given to the council along with a Blueprint Community Brochure. Wagner suggested something be done in honor of Pete Roy, a former city employee, who recently passed away. Myers stated that was in process and something would be on the next agenda for approval.
A grant is being sought through the United States Department of Agriculture that could be used towards the Parsons Industrial Park. There is no match requirement from the city and is in the amount of $50,000.
Auvil and Jones made a motion to remove the Parsons Police Department manual for policies and procedures from the agenda until a later date.
A resignation letter was received from Anthony Dibartolomeo and accepted regretfully with a motion from Jones and Auvil. The Personnel Committee made a recommendation to advertise internally for a public works position, which also approved unanimously. They also brought to the council a recommendation to adjust the wages within the police department. It was noted that a Tucker County Deputy salary is $30,212 with benefits, equal to $14.53 per hour, and the city offers a 2% raise annually. It was suggested for patrolmen to start at $16 per hour, Lieutenants at $18, and Chiefs $20. Discussion followed over concerns of employee wages in general within the city and the inability to maintain quality employees. Greenlief then made a motion to approve the wage revisions with a second from Jones and all in favor.
This concluded the business on the agenda and Greenlief and Jones made a motion to adjourn. The Parsons City Council will meet again on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, at 6 p.m. at the Parsons City Hall.