At Monday's monthly meeting of the Monett City Council, City Administrator Dennis Pyle said the city was approached by the Workforce Investment Board (WIB) about finding a new location for the Missouri Career Center, located on South Kyler Street. The WIB leases space for its career centers from private owners. The lease on the current Monett facility had expired, Pyle said.
The WIB presently has career centers in Monett and Joplin to serve southwest Missouri. According to Shirley Click, regional manager at the Monett facility, as many as 3,000 people a month have used the Monett office in their search for a job.
"We are not the unemployment office," Click told The Times. "People may confuse us with the unemployment office, because people on unemployment are required to report into a career center every four weeks so we can help them find a job."
Pyle said after the city put the WIB in touch with several local landowners and the City of Cassville made a proposal to host the office, the WIB approached the city about providing a new office.
"We suggested with the move of the Barry County Emergency Management Office [to the Justice Center], we lease the Monett Community Building to them," Pyle said.
Built in the 1970s, the Monett Community Building served as the longtime headquarters for the Barry-Lawrence Ambulance District before the service built its own office on Dairy Street in 2002. Since then the building has been used for a variety of community meetings, storage for the police department and as an office for Barry County Emergency Management. Pyle said the building is in need of repair.
Mayor Jim Orr and Pyle attended two meetings with the WIB in Joplin. City Commissioner Jerry Dierker and Pyle attended another meeting last week at which time the WIB approved Monett's proposal.
The garage area would be converted to training rooms and classrooms, Pyle said. The gravel parking lot would also be replaced with a more substantial surface.
"We believe we can renovate the building for less than $100,000," Pyle said. "We would be responsible for 50 percent of the cost. If we did the renovation, we could lease the Community Center for three or five years under a contract. We hope to recover all of our cost."
Click said the Community Center is roughly comparable in square footage to the current office.
"We could do better in a little configured space," Click said. "Currently, we have a small conference room and a small computer lab that can handle 10 at a time."
The Career Center offers training on several levels, some of which is done on computers. Sessions help on basic skills like improving resumes, understanding networking and exploring careers.
Click said job seekers can take tests on their ability to locate information, reading and applied math. Their scores can earn them bronze, silver, gold and platinum National Career Readiness certificates. The certificates may help a job applicant stand out from the rest of the crowd in the eyes of a prospective employer. Such work could be done better with more space.
The city would likely work as its own general contractor to renovate the building. Depending on the weather, Commissioner Jerry Dierker thought construction could start in January. Council members authorized the beginning of work at Monday's meeting.
Pyle said July 1, 2011, would be the target date for completion. Realistically, he thought it may be late summer before the building is ready.
"The city has been great to work with," said Click. "We still have some hurdles to cross, but I think they are some hurdles. I'm very excited about the opportunity. I see positive things at every turn." Mayor Jim Orr, said Garrett had agreed to serve a second stint of two years.
Two vacancies on the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Commission will open at the end of the year. All TIF commissioners now serve on a set term with staggered expirations. Patti Holt and John Bruner, whose terms end with the beginning of 2011, have agreed to continue their service, Pyle said. Both were reappointed to serve four more years.
Council members passed a resolution approving continued participation in the Southwest Missouri DWI Task Force. The arrangement offers mutual aid for concentrated efforts to identify impaired drivers through traffic stops in specific towns. The agreement included no specific timetable requiring future renewal.
The city's two-year contract with Sprenkle and Associates for engineering services had concluded. Taking advantage of the option to continue services, council members voted to extend the deal for another two years.
Bids received to replace digital recording equipment for the dispatching service were rejected at the request of Dispatching Supervisor Bonnie Witt-Schulte. The dispatching service has two digital recorders to document all 911, radio and telephone traffic, both into and out of the Justice Center.
The old units, purchased in 2001 for around $16,000, are no longer made. Parts are not available and one has broken down, requiring the use of a loaner unit. Bids for replacements from four vendors came in between $20,000 and $28,000, running $10,000 over what Witt-Schulte had budgeted. She planned to review the quotes to find a way to reduce costs and advertise again.
Bills were paid totaling $1,830,201.96. The largest bills included $952,880.27 to Empire District Electric for wholesale electricity; $50,000 to Ed Laubinger Excavating and $21,000 to Kenny Singer Construction for work on the west lift station; $21,000 to Seven Valleys Construction for the water line bore under Highway 37 for the water main extension project; $43,000 to C Biz Insurance for the quarterly payment on liability insurance; and $271,000 to Wells Fargo as payment on the Justice Center construction debt.
Police Chief Tim Schweder and Parks Superintendent Russ Balmas confirmed that vandals had taken parts of the Festival of Lights exhibit at South Park for the first time. A Christmas tree near the lake and several small lighted chickens from the Tyson Foods display were missing.
Balmas said vandals also broke into the concession stand by the soccer fields. A pop machine was turned over and other equipment damaged. Balmas was looking at installing security doors that would prevent future access.
Any information about the vandalism or the location of the missing displays can be called into the Crime Stoppers tip line at 354-TIPS (8477).
Witt-Schulte reported the Barry County Emergency Management office had moved into the Justice Center basement. An open house will be held to show how the operation is working.
Balmas reported street department crews had returned to Cleveland to fix a number of soft spots that developed under the asphalt. Amazing Paint and DB Graphics had collaborated in repainting the Frisco caboose at South Park.
Fire Chief Tom Jones reported firefighters had battled a structure fire on Miller Way in Monett on Saturday.