Council May Lift Ban on Fireworks Sales In City

December 4, 2007
Dwayne Page

The sale of fireworks may soon be permitted within the city limits of Smithville.

Since 1982, the city has prohibited the sale of fireworks but in recent weeks Jewel Redman, owner and operator of Jewel's Market on South Congress Boulevard, has requested more than once that the ban be lifted to give city businesses and others the same opportunity to sell fireworks as those outside the city limits.

Monday night, the board voted to have an ordinance prepared to repeal the ban, paving the way for passage of a new one that authorizes the sale of fireworks with specifics on rules and regulations.

Aldermen Willie Thomas, Jerry Hutchins Sr., and Tonya Sullivan voted for it. Alderman Cecil Burger voted no and Alderman Steve White refrained from voting, citing a conflict since he sells fireworks outside the city during the Fourth of July each year.

In other business, the board adopted a budget amendment ordinance on first reading to appropriate money for the purchase and installation of a sprinkler system at the golf course. If approved on second and final reading, the city will spend $215,000 taking $88,000 from the golf course checking account and $127,000 from the general fund account to pay for the project.

Aldermen Thomas, Hutchins and Sullivan voted for it. Aldermen Burger and White voted against it.

Final passage of the ordinance will be scheduled during the next meeting on Monday, December 17th at 7:00 p.m. following a public hearing.

Alderman Sullivan has apparently given up on her idea of the city possibly purchasing the Magnolia House as a community center for youth, senior citizens, and the public at large.

Monday night, Sullivan asked that the board take no action on it. She said "Parking is going to be an issue and some of the citizens have expressed that they would prefer something more like a gymnasium type (building) that would hold more people and have more functions, so I would not like to take any action on the Magnolia House and would look forward to the city and the county working together to try and meet the needs of the citizens".

In other business, Alderman Sullivan again expressed her concern about the recent transfer of a sewer treatment plant employee, Roger Shaffnit, to the water treatment plant, without board approval.

Sullivan says Shaffnit is not certified. "When we advertised, we advertised for a certified water plant operator. In the requirements, it said you must be certified."

Mayor Taft Hendrixson and Alderman White said the notice made reference to the city seeking an operator or trainee.

Sullivan continued, "At this point, because he's not certified, I would like for him (Shaffnit) to be moved back to the position he was previously in. I would like for him to continue working. I've heard nothing but good things about Mr. Shaffnit, but he needs to be certified. He's responsible for our drinking water, making decisions, our quality of water is dependent on that and it's unfair to put him in that position."

Alderman White pointed out that Shaffnit is trying to become certified.

Mayor Hendrixson added that Shaffnit is due to take his test in May.

Sullivan contended that the city should have conducted interviews of the twenty five persons who applied for the position.

Mayor Hendrixson responded "We didn't get any certified operator applications."

Sullivan suggested that the city could keep Shaffnit in a trainee position, not leaving him with full responsibility, and still fill the position with someone who is certified.

Alderman White made a motion that Shaffnit's transfer as a water plant trainee be made official. Alderman Burger offered a second to the motion. Aldermen Sullivan and Hutchins voted in favor, but Alderman Thomas voted no

Sullivan also asked to meet with Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson to review the budget to see if there is room for another employee at the water treatment plant. She added " I want to look at the overtime that is put in there. There's a lot of stress there and this (another employee) may alleviate some pressure."

Police Chief Richard Jennings has requested that the city employ an investigator and possibly a school resource officer at the middle school.

Sullivan said the city should proceed with advertising for the hiring of an investigator but that funding for the SRO position could wait until next year's budget.

This year's budget includes funds for up to twelve officers working eight hour shifts, but in recent months the police department's eight officers have been working in twelve hour shifts.

Officer Callie Matthews, the ninth officer in the department, has been off duty since she was involved in a fatal accident earlier this year. She has since been given a medical clearance for light duty work. However, since there are apparently no light duty jobs for a police officer, she has not yet been put back to work by the city council.

Aldermen Sullivan, Hutchins, Thomas, and Burger voted in favor of advertising for an investigator, but Alderman White voted no. White is not opposed to it but prefers to wait until the city makes a decision on the fate of Matthews.

The aldermen also voted to hire a certified recorder to help Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson take the minutes of the meeting, at least until he completes his certification.

Alderman Hutchins made the motion. "We've been having some problems with the minutes and I would like to make a motion that we get a certified recorder to be present at the board meetings until Mr. Hendrixson gets through his schooling since we have had some confusion with the minutes."

A certified recorder was already in place during Monday night's meeting before the council took action, and no mention was made of how much her pay would be, or whether the service needed to be advertised for competitive bidding.

Alderman Hutchins, Thomas, and Sullivan voted for the certified recorder. Aldermen Burger and White voted against it.

Meanwhile, Alderman Thomas took issued with Secretary-Treasurer Hendrixson for not interviewing all applicants for the positions of Police Secretary-Records Clerk and General Secretary.

Hendrixson explained that " We recently put in the paper (advertised) two positions at city hall. We had 45 applications for police secretary and 32 applications for the general secretary position. We held several interviews. We didn't interview every one of them. The charter/code for the city allows the treasurer, commissioners, and mayor to go through the applications, and interview the ones we feel may be best for the job."

City Attorney John Pryor added that the charter does not require all applicants to be interviewed.

Alderman Thomas wanted to table any action to fill those positions until all applicants were interviewed. "I think everybody needs a shot at it. I think if you put out an application, you should interview all of them."

Hendrixson says while not all applicants were interviewed, all applications were reviewed.

The aldermen voted 3 to 2 to hire Dana England as General Secretary, Beth Adcock as Police Secretary/Records Clerk, and James Storie as full time Sanitation Collector. In all three cases, Aldermen White, Burger, and Sullivan voted for them to be hired while Aldermen Thomas and Hutchins voted no.

After the vote, Alderman Sullivan said the city must be consistent with it's hiring process. "I think Hunter has tried to follow what the code and charter say but the code and charter is very vague about who is supposed to be present for interviews, how many people are supposed to be interviewed, and what the process is that we are supposed to be following. We have not been consistent with our hiring process."

In other matters, the aldermen voted to make an emergency purchase at the water treatment plant. City officials say the condition of the filter valves have deteriorated and should be replaced with new electronically operated valves. Mayor Hendrixson says the city has $200,000 in the budget to make the needed repairs. The vote to make the appropriation was 4 to 1. Alderman Thomas voted no.

The aldermen also voted to authorize the city's engineering firm, the J.R. Wauford Company to apply to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to obtain a floating intake and to explore the costs of such a pump. If the lake level falls below 618 feet (above sea level), the minimum depth for the city to produce finished water at an acceptable rate, more than 16,000 customers served by the city and the DeKalb Utility District could be affected.

Mayor Hendrixson says the lake was at 625 feet (above sea level) as of Monday, but the fear is that the lake will fall to 618 or below over time if drought conditions worsen during the repair phase of Center Hill Dam, when the Corps plans to keep the lake level lower.

The aldermen approved the mayor's appointment of Kay Quintero to fill the unexpired term of the late Dr. Jerre Hale on the Smithville Housing Authority Board. The term expires in December, 2008.

Jimmy Ervin was also reappointed to the Smithville Housing Authority Board to a new five year term.

The city board approved on first reading an ordinance to rezone the property of James Cantrell at 1100 South College Street from B-1 neighborhood shopping, to B-2 general business. Second and final reading action will follow a public hearing at the next meeting on December 17th.

The council also adopted on first reading ordinances adopting the International Residential Code, International Plumbing Code, and an ordinance establishing conditions for the temporary parking of recreational vehicles in mobile home parks. Second and final reading action will follow public hearings at the December 17th meeting.

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