The audience was thin during the August 20 meeting of the Centralia Board of Aldermen when the aldermen voted to cut the number of public meetings they held from three a month to two. Despite concerns from the audience, the board voted to combine the Public Works-Public Utilities Committee and General Government and Public Safety committee meetings in to one, held the second Monday of every month.
“I can’t speak for the entire board, but it did seem that we had a lot of 15-20 minute meetings and it made sense to combine the two that were consistently shorter.” said Ward II Alderman Robert Hudson, speaking to the Fireside Guard. “The revised meeting schedule will allow us to be in Council Chambers for essentially the same amount of time each month, it will just be consolidated into two nights instead of three. While it may seem that the access to public officials is reduced, I know I have had more in person conversations, phone calls, emails, and letters from my neighbors in Ward 2 than have attended meetings. All of the board members have their contact information on the City of Centralia’s webpage which means people can reach out to us at their convenience instead of waiting for a regularly scheduled meeting.”
Mayor Tim Grenke and Ward III Alderman Landon Magley were absent.
Grenke later told the Fireside Guard, “We decided on two meetings a month because the meetings can be conducted on one day vice trying up two days. It may also entice more people to run for office knowing they have only two meeting days monthly. This in no way diminishes the citizen’s access to their elected officials.”
Ward 1’s Don Bormann, who visibly hesitated to vote on the issue, disagreed. “There will be an impact on accessibility, it is one less meeting, one less opportunity for the public to be heard,” he later told the Fireside Guard.
Those there, also unanimously voted to add Tara Strain – city clerk and Donna Stephens – assistant city clerk to the list of authorizing signatories for the city’s fixed income accounts and city checks.
They also unanimously voted to transfer the city’s legal files from Lauber Municipal law to Cydney Mayfield, whom they also voted to establish as city attorney. Mayfield’s salary was approved at $3,700 per month.
Additionally, the aldermen:
- Accepted the bid of Christensen Construction – Kingdom City for street work, including asphalt overlays and other items. The project is budgeted for $113,318.94.
- Voted to accept the bid of Donaldson Excavating – Kingdom City to perform excavation needed for the installation of curb and gutter and storm sewer on Mayes Meadow and Meadowlark Lane. The project is budgeted to cost $102,562. “Before it gets cold,” responded a MECO Engineering representative when Ward II’s Robert Hudson asked when it would be done.
Prior to approving the city’s new comprehensive plan, Ward II’s Robert Hudson asked how the aldermen would refer to, or use the plan during their regular meetings.
Bormann said city staff would be responsible for notifying the aldermen the actions were adhering to the plan.
“A lot of residents put a lot of work in to it,” Hudson said. “It would be good, as the leaders here, we paid attention to it.”
In other business they finalized the purchase of
*a Ditch Witch Trencher for $66,334.
* 11,510 for pad-mounted transformers from Arkansas Electric.
* $18,995 from Coran Main for supplies for Southwest Country Estates.
From there they moved on to mayoral appointments, led by m.
Strain was appointed as the new city collector and traffic violations bureau clerk
Clint Baer appointed as full-time officer. He is replacing officer Bento Mendez who resigned last week.
Rodgers asked how many officers the city now had. City Administrator Heather Russell said nine, plus one part-time officer.
They also voted to have a special meeting 7 p.m., Wed., Aug 29 to have their annual tax-rate hearing.
Russell said they had received notice the had received the demolition grant for the Narragansett Building. “Is Clifford out of there yet?” asked Bormann.
“A lot of people are asking me about the brick,” said Ward I’s David Wilkins.
Rodgers complimented the efficiency of the city’s newly-installed LED street lights, “they are three times brighter.”