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Centralia Aldermen: fireworks, speeding and police cadets on the table

Posted on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 at 6:31 am

Speed limits, police cadets and fireworks were among the evening’s topics during the July 13 meeting of the Centralia Board of Aldermen’s committees.

CPD officer Logan Feger discusses the proposed police cadet program as Ward III Terri Motley listens.

Bob Bias, chief of the Centralia Police Department presented his monthly report, including a speed limit study on Jefferson and Lakeview Streets. “Jefferson does have a little speed limit problem,” which he said was more than Lakeview. “It’s about 25 percent or over,” said Ward II’s Robert Hudson about the report. “Jefferson is definitely the hotter spot… But most agencies aren’t going to stop somebody until they are eight miles an hour or over.”

He said he expects the speeding frequency to increase on Lakeview once school is back in session, in response to a question from Ward III’s Terri Motley. “Out of 5,700 cars, 98 percent of them are going at or below the speed limit,” Bias said.

Centralia mayor and Heather Russell, city administrator, indicated there would be future discussion on making all streets the same speed limit, except for school zones.

They also heard from CPD officer Logan Feger regarding a proposed CPD cadet program. Feger said he started out as a cadet in high school “It guided me in the right direction and definitely kept me out of trouble.”

The program would have two age groups. 14 to 17 and 17 to 21 years of age and would have no contact with prisoners.

Ultimately participants would get 24 hours of police training. “The cadets will have one or two days a month when they will have to attend these training… I am working with Back the Blue to create a scholarship as incentive to participate.” Feger said there would be a minimum GPA of 2.0 required to participate, as well as being in good standing in the community and passing a background check.

He said older cadets would be able to do ride-a longs. The application process and bylaws mirror a program used by the Audrain County Sheriff’s Department.

He said there was a line-item under the department’s community policing budget that could fund the program.

City Administrator Heather Russell said that line item is $1,000. She estimated the program would cost $472 a year, not including three-button shirts that would help identify the students as police cadets.

Feger said he would also issue a monthly report.

“Absolutely not,” he said when asked if the program would create any additional overtime costs.

No action was taken but the aldermen indicated they would revisit the issue during their July 20 meeting.

The aldermen agreed to discuss changes to city speed limits and the city fireworks ordinance during their July 20 meeting.

Denny Rusch, chief of the Centralia Fire Department, said he had nothing to report in his monthly fire department report. “Everything is working and nothing is going on.” He said there were problems finding fire department volunteers to help with the annual July 4 fireworks display. “The Fourth of July is a holiday, people might want to do something else, with their families, especially when it falls on a weekend… There might be an easier way to do this.”

In a related discussion, they discussed changing the city ordinance to permit setting off aerial fireworks around the Fourth of July. “The police department runs itself ragged around the fourth, and to the best of my knowledge has never written a ticket.”

“I think it is more about setting a time that is reasonable… it needs to be consistent,” Centralia Mayor Chris Cox said.

“The police department defers to the fire department on this,” Bias said. “We do not have a problem with this… We’re just going to keep everybody as safe as we can. Time-wise it does not bother us at all.” Currently the ordinance permits fireworks from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Centralia resident Linda Bormann said the biggest problem was debris which “nobody cleans up.”

“I don’t care what time it is as long as we enforce it,” Ward III’s Landon Magley said.

The aldermen agreed, minus Christina Stevens, Ward I alderman who was absent, to make changes, keeping the dates from July 1 to July 4 but extending the hours to 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. It will also be voted on July 20.

During the public works, public utilities portion of the meeting.

“We have been busy filling pools,” Matt Rusch, water department foreman said during his report. He also said the department has been having several meetings with engineers regarding the upcoming water plant project.

Phil Hoffman, street department foreman said it “had been a drainage month,” in June and the department had replaced four culverts and re-graveled several turnarounds as well as curb and gutter work on Rollins Street. They also replaced 65-feet of curb on Allen Street, in the area of the Hubbell campus.