Luckily for the Hillsboro City Council, it only takes two (of four) city council members plus the mayor to constitute a quorum so official business can be conducted. Neither councilwoman Katie Duncan nor councilman Daniel Robbins could be at the scheduled meeting Tuesday night, Sept. 24. It took councilman Don Downs and Mike Murphy plus Mayor Brian Sullivan and City Attorney Kit Hantla only 40 minutes to conduct the city's business.
In one personnel matter, Public Safety Commissioner announced "a rare lateral transfer" which will return the Police Department to full strength, reducing overtime hours. Murphy said Hillsboro native Tyson Holshouser is coming back to town and will join the police force. Holshouser began his law enforcement career as a Montgomery County deputy before joining the St. Petersburg, FL, police force. Because he comes to Hillsboro with academy training complete, he can begin work immediately and will fill the time slots opened with the recent resignation of Sgt. Kelly Brewer. Murphy said, "Tyson is road-ready; the HPD just received a Christmas present."
The council also agreed to purchase a computer for the Police Department; at a cost of $1,925, it replaces a unit that is eight years old which was rebuilt three years ago. Chief Randy Leetham also asked for a restructuring of the department. After Brewer's retirement, Leetham is the only supervisor left. Murphy said a "white shirt" (supervisor) is needed at a crime or accident scene when the chief can't be present, so Hantla was directed to construct an ordinance to create a Chief Deputy's position. It will be a salaried, non-union position.
Hantla and Utilities Commissioner Downs will also work on an amendment to Section 38-3-18 of the city code. As written, the section says owners are responsible for the cost of replacing pipes leading from the water stop to their businesses or homes, but for various reasons that ordinance has never been consistently enforced. If it is unenforceable or unfair, Downs feels it needs to be changed.
Four plumbers spoke to the council about the problem over a month ago, so both Downs and the mayor want the ordinance changed to serve the needs of the public. Mayor Sullivan also said it's time for the issue to be resolved; the topic has been on the last several agendas.
As a response to social media, Attorney Hantla read a press release concerning the paid administrative leave imposed on city intern Jonathon Weyer. The text of the press release is at the end of this article.
The rest of the meeting dealt with okaying expenditures for various city purposes. The estimate to repair two motors for pumps at the water treatment plant was presented. Pump A will cost $2,984.60 for repair by A.W. Smith Company; Pump B will cost $2,453.85. The budgeted total was $20,000.00, so the project is well under budget although Tim Ferguson of Woodard & Curran said one of the pumps also needed additional repairs to be operable.
The council also approved the purchase of a battery-powered rescue tool for the Fire Department at a price not to exceed $11,000; Murphy, the Commissioner of Public Safety who brought the request to the table, reported the volunteers had already spent their own personal money for other battery-powered equipment.
The council decided to purchase two streetlight poles for the north side of Courthouse Square for $22,732.36 total.
That amount comes from Business District funding, not from the General Fund.
The other expenditures were for contractual obligations. The city had agreed to contribute $10,000.00 as cost-sharing, community involvement funds as part of the HUD Block Grant process. The first payment (a total of $26,000.00) was due to the investors in the Glenn Shoals Lake Club, Inc. for the dock addition at the South Marina. Also, the council approved a facade grant reimbursement of $4,000.00 to the Red Rooster Inn; $28,000.00 in receipts were submitted by the Rooster developers.
Commissioner Murphy presented Robbins' reports. Concerning public properties, electrical work is completed at the South Marina. The crew is still mowing and weedeating city property as the grass is growing as if it were summer. Work continues on the pickleball court in Central Park (one bad section of concrete had to be replaced, so it will have to cure for seven days). Robbins met with Kendra Wright (of the Glenn Shoals Lake Club) and Jeff Smith (of JLS Marine Company) about perhaps extending the roof over the older slips at the Marina and improving the ramp from the shore to the dock and restaurant.
Also, he has met with Imagine Hillsboro's Central Park Committee as they seek cost estimates for new playground equipment, sidewalks, fencing, and other amenities. The former community garden has been tilled, harrowed, and seeded in grass. Finally, city land used for archery deer hunting and spots on the lakes for blinds for duck hunting have been assigned and the payments received.
Robbins also wants the public to know that though Pawsboro 620K9 appears to be finished, it is not yet open --and won't be until Saturday, Oct. 19, at 10 a.m. when the grand opening ceremony will be held.
The Street Department was also busy the past two weeks. A water leak on Brailey was repaired. Rip rap went into the ditch on Hickory Street, and sidewalk work on Summer Street occurred. The boulevard on Broad Street was graded, the street sweeper was used, and brush and bagged leaves were picked up on the regular second and fourth Tuesday of the month schedule.
Motor Fuel Tax funds were used to oil roads in pre-chosen areas of greatest need; that announcement prompted Murphy as Public Safety Commissioner to remind motorists to drive slowly and safely on all roads. According to Murphy and Chief Leetham, the department opened 103 new case reports and completed 21 case follow ups from May through August.
There were 1,295 activity log entries, 127 abatement notices served, 47 criminal arrests, 15 ordinance citations, 29 traffic citations, 127 verbal warnings, and 3 written warnings.
The chief was notified the day of the meeting that Hillsboro was awarded $3,124.75 by the Bullet proof Vest Partnership 2019 group to help purchase ballistic resistant vests for the officers to wear. It is a 50% grant, and Leetham expects measurements of his officers and pricing to occur within the next several weeks.
A note of thanks over the chief's signature, read by Murphy and echoed by Mayor Sullivan praised the sheriff's office, the Litchfield Police Department, and Street Supervisor Justin Chappelear for assistance on Friday's priority call to the shooting incident in west Hillsboro, which was covered in Monday's Journal-News. Leetham was the only Hillsboro officer on duty when the call came in, but when he requested emergency assistance, all officers available were on scene within minutes. He also acknowledged the stress the telecommunicators/dispatchers feel during serious calls. Also praised were the nurse who came from across the street to aid the victim, the workers nearby who helped at the scene, and the EMS and ambulance crew.
Murphy added that he had talked to Dr. Robert Mulch, recently of the Natural Resources Committee, about steps needed to move forward with a Tree City designation. Hopefully more defined plans will be available by mid-fall.
Commissioner Downs also praised those who helped with the shooting and subsequent car accident on Seymour Avenue. He hopes to present plans for water line replacement on Huber Hill and Huber Drive at the next meeting "...to start the process." He also said Broad Street has sewer problems, evident when camera work done on Tuesday showed at some time plastic pipe had been inserted within clay tile, but surface water was infiltrating anyway. He said the situation calls for "...exploratory surgery."
The council meets again on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m. in city hall. The public would be welcomed.
It has come to the attention of the City of Hillsboro that there have been allegations made against a recently hired employee, Jonathon Ryan Weyer. It should be noted that the alleged events occurred two years ago. Mr. Weyer currently serves as the Interim Community Planner. The City Council and the City as a whole take these allegations very seriously and are currently taking steps to investigate them. However, at this time that is all that they are, allegations. During the investigation Mr. Weyer will be placed on paid administrative leave as the City strongly believes that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. This action is being taken only to be proactive and to be as fair as possible both to Mr. Weyer and the City. More information will be forth coming at the conclusion of the investigation.