Ten residents watched seven elected officials discuss property and public safety during the July 16 meeting of the Centralia Board of Aldermen.
Evelyn Robertson stood and asked the state of the Narraganset building “who owns it and what will be done?… is De la Rosa still there?”
Centralia Mayor Tim Grenke said the city now owned the building and expected to receive a grant for its demolition soon and its former owner Clifford De la Rosa was working to meet the city’s August deadline to remove all his belongings from the building.
Next up was Richard Trask and his wife Lorie, also addressed regarding a home invasion of their home and concerns regarding the timeliness of the response. “A call that there is a stranger in a house, should take call over searching for someone…. We need to know when we call 911 that we get someone there in a matter of moments, not 30 minutes.” His wife Lori said the woman was barefoot, trembling and convincing in her story that she was pursued by two men.” The Trasks said they later learned the story was not true, “and the woman was on drugs, … It is very scary when you call 911 and think someone is going to come in a matter of minutes and help doesn’t come until 30 minutes later.”
Mayor Tim Grenke said he and the aldermen would “look into it with the police and check the logs… I sense your frustration. I will talk to the police department. We will try and get you a follow-up on that. I will try and get you some answers.”
From there it was on to a financial services agreement to work with Piper Jafray and Company for financial consulting services regarding a possible land purchase by the Centralia Park Department. The agreement passed unanimously.
They then unanimously approved a voluntary annexation, with Ward I’s Don Bormann abstaining. In a related vote the approved rezoning of that property to R-2. Bormann again abstained. “I am doing work on the developer of this project,” he said.
Then the topic of a director of public works and public utilities arose. “We’re bringing it back,” said Heather Russell, who said they were not creating a new position but filling an old one.” She said they were moving water director Mike Forsee to the position and promoting Matt Rush to water department foreman, Forsee’s former position. All six aldermen voted in favor of the promotions.
Next up was the topic of holding a city-wide election Nov. 6 to ask the voters for a public safety sales tax. Grenke credited the work of former Centralia Police Chief Larry Dudgeon in “getting the ball rolling. Grenke said one half of one percent sales tax would enable the city to better fund having two officers always on duty.
Bormann suggested a use tax would be preferred. City Attorney Cydney Mayfield said they could ask the voters to approve both. In response to a question from Ward III’s James Lee, Bormann said he would prefer to see just the use tax. He called the estimated $200,000 “playing a shell game with the money,” because the city would not be increasing the CPD budget by that amount.
Mayfield, who helped write the bill, said passing the tax would be a positive for the community. “
Grenke reminded him the tax would also benefit the Centralia Fire Department.
Ward II’s Robert Hudson said he also preferred the sales tax, which he said, estimates said would provide the needed funds, which the use tax, Hudson said, would not. They approved putting a city- wide public safety sales tax, 5-1, with Bormann voting against.
In closed session, they voted to make an offer on a piece of property as part of the expansion of the water treatment facility as discussed in the bond issue.
They then vote to purchase a skidster from Henderson Implement for $67,868.93 of Columbia instead of from Martin Implement’s bid of $67,822.75. Ward II’s Don Rodgers said they should approve it because the owner of Henderson’s pays local taxes. They aldermen unanimously voted in favor of Henderson’s’ bid, with Ward III’s Landon Magley abstaining.
Grenke appointed Bryan Dulany to full time officer of the CPD. The appointment was passed unanimously.
He also reappointed Jon Kottiwitz to the city tree board, also unanimously passed. Grenke said he is also looking for somebody to replace Jessica Orsini, who does not want to serve another term on the tree board.
They also voted to hold a special meeting Aug 6 prior to the Public Works, public utility meeting.
Grenke said they would be meeting Thursday July 19 starting at 5:30 p.m. to interview the three final candidates for the police chief position.
After the meeting Grenke and Mayfield confirmed for the Centralia Fireside Guard that the city had fired Centralia Police Lieutenant Joe Bellamy, July 9. Grenke said Bellamy was fired for violation of police department procedure. He also confirmed he had asked the Boone County Sheriff’s Department to investigate Bellamy’s alleged actions before he was fired.
Major Tom Reddin of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department confirmed the BCSD did perform an investigation. “We will not comment on the personnel situations of other agencies,” Reddin said. “We did in fact complete an investigation for the city of Centralia, the results of which are a personnel matter and confidential.”
Bellamy was a CPD officer for 10 years. He was hired by the city April 28, 2008.