Past Museum Board Presidents Murray Bishoff and Kristin Nama were on hand at the March meeting of the Pierce City Board of Aldermen to offer insight as to the problems plaguing the historic building under the leadership of former board president David H. Jones, a Springfield attorney, who had abruptly resigned.
Bishoff said that Jones had not called a museum board meeting in over 11 months.
According to museum board member Jay Bierkortte, Jones "wanted to run the show himself and run it outside the rules. [Jones] started getting rid of people who didn't agree with him."
Bierkortte continued illustrating difficulties between local board members and Jones, who spends a majority of his time in Springfield.
"He did not want [museum curator] Betty [Bierkortte] in the files," Bierkortte said. "He became very confrontational with members and apparently thought of it as the David H. Jones Museum."
Bishoff said that board members had worked as a team building up collections, meeting regularly and fundraising on behalf of the museum.
"David doesn't know how to work as a team," Bishoff said.
Concerns were also expressed about items removed from the museum on the day Jones submitted his resignation to the council. Jones said he was removing his personal property but left no list.
Bishoff said there was no actual inventory of items that had been donated to the museum, but several items could not be located, including a World War II military uniform from a Pierce City veterans acquired in a collection.
"We don't know what [Jones] took," Bishoff said.
Mayor Allen Stockton said the museum will be closed until new board members can be appointed in May.
"It would be a shame if we let the museum fade away," said Kaye Smith, a current museum board member. "It is a lovely asset for the town, full of history and character."
Board members remaining as of the March council meeting included Smith, Carmen Archer, Pat Chapman and Jack George. Smith's term will be up in May, resulting in the need to appoint six people to the board.
Dog problems visited
In other business, Betty Bierkortte complained to aldermen about dogs at large and being attacked by a Weimaraner. Bierkortte said she had suffered several bites and had a shoulder muscle pulled.
"There is a problem with particular people having [no] respect for leash laws," Bierkortte said. She said she had seen several dogs roaming in packs of six to eight animals.
Alderman David Jones said that there were city ordinances to enforce leash laws and that officers would start citing owners who let their animals roam at large.
"We'll step up enforcement," Stockton said.
In department reports, Stockton told aldermen over 30 water meters of approximately 600 had been changed out.
"We're taking the oldest out of service first," Stockton said. "We're going to track which meters have been changed.
"I'd also like to get some shut-off valves put in," Stockton continued. "We've had to do underwater work a number of times. It would be better if we could shut off the system pieces at a time to make repairs."
In the Public Works Department, Stockton said all pumps were up and running at the main lift station.
Andy Hogenmiller, Pierce City Fire Department chief, reported that a door at the station had been damaged and estimated cost of repair would be $4,000.
"It's a FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] door," Hogenmiller said. "The panic bar is broken."
Aldermen directed Hogen-miller to look into options such as replacing the locking mechanism instead of the entire door.
In other business, aldermen approved sending a rezoning request from mobile home park owner Ken Madison to change 400 Pine Street from residential to mobile home use. Madison plans to have a total of seven units on the lot.
Aldermen approved a proposal from the Monett Area YMCA to operate the city pool for the summer season. Hours of operation and associated staffing costs will be determined at a later date.
The next regular meeting of the Pierce City Board of Aldermen will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 11 at City Hall.