A reduction in hours and expense accounts instituted last month in Pierce City has resulted in changes in city personnel.
Water and wastewater operator Charlie Ingram resigned after the reductions went into effect. Mayor Carol Hirsch told aldermen that cross training had enabled remaining personnel to keep the city's sewer operation functioning. She had notified the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that the city lacked an employee with the required licenses to run the plant and planned to hire someone as soon as possible.
Following a closed session at Monday's meeting, aldermen hired Keith Coggin, of Neosho, who started his duties on Feb. 10. Coggin is the brother of Victor Coggin, whose company, Shoal Creek Environmental, contracted to run the city's system in 2000. Keith Coggin had apprenticed with former city water and wastewater operator Sam Corley at that time.
Coggin, who recently moved back to the area, was the only candidate of the four applicants considered who had the necessary licenses to run both the water and wastewater systems. Coggin's licenses even surpassed the state requirements the city needed.
Coggin will begin at $11,000 a year and will receive a salary and benefits increase after completing a probationary period.
Meeting date changed
Aldermen also passed an ordinance on Monday that will formally change the regular monthly meeting date of city council meetings from the second Monday of the month to the second Thursday. Hirsch explained several aldermen cited scheduling conflicts that will be resolved by the change, which goes into effect in May. Council meetings have been held on Mondays for many decades.
Two land issues surfaced unexpectedly. Mayor Hirsch reported that when the city went to sell the land it owned on Golubski Avenue, buyer Kenny Golubski discovered the lot descriptions given to the city do not match records supplied by the judge in the condemnation action.
Golubski still wants the land. Hirsch planned to go to Mt. Vernon and file an appeal. She voiced frustration that after 11 years the matter was still mixed up.
"This is not our fault," she said.
Gary Saffer, who owns acreage on the northwest corner of the Ford Addition, along Highway 97, asked aldermen to vacate a 36-foot stretch of city street running across land he has owned for about five years.
The north half of the road was vacated in the mid-1970s. The south half was apparently not vacated, due to an objection by the landowner at the time.
Saffer has subdivided the land into four lots, built one house and would like to build more. The street ends at Imperial Drive. The section in question has a driveway on it used by tenants at David Golubski's nearby apartments. Saffer said it would be up to him and Golubski to keep up the driveway. Utility easements for water and sewer mains running on the street would remain with the city.
Aldermen had no objections to the request. They voted to make the change and asked Saffer to bring in the legal description of the land, so that the deal could be formalized in an ordinance.
Memorial Park progress
The next meeting on plans to develop the Memorial Park will be held at 7 p.m. on March 22 at city hall. Hirsch said the last meeting was constructive. Ben Layton had brought in plans to get the basic structure started, put water lines in place and then place memorial artifacts on the site. Volunteer labor would be needed to place the concrete pad.
Aldermen encouraged Hirsch to file a request with the local National Guard for a community assistance project to move the Frisco caboose to the Memorial Park. Hirsch reported the Guard has moved its cranes to eastern Missouri and was no longer optimistic any assistance would be available. A local moving company offered to relocate the caboose and its tracks for $4,000.
Hirsch shared a letter from DNR detailing how the city, along with most area towns, is facing new water compliance regulations. An ultraviolet scan of the effluent leaving the wastewater plant will be required by 2011 as a way to stop E. coli bacteria. The mayor suggested filing an application with the state for grant money for the upgrade though no funds appear to be available at the present time.
A request has been made by the Pierce City School District to use the municipal swimming pool for 19 days in june as part of the summer school program. The district would pay the city $1,500 for the pool's use.
Aldermen have made no decision about opening the pool next summer in light of current funding shortfalls. Alderman Allen Stockton said a decision may hinge on the public's vote in April on proposed sales tax hikes.