October 26, 2007

That’s None Of Your Business Says SaraLee Blevin

Posted in City News at 8:59 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

That was the response I got to my question of whether or not she was withdrawing from the council race. 

So folks, there is the answer to your question.  It’s none of your business.

This type of response speaks volumes to me about her capabilities as a council member.   You decide. 

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October 24, 2007

Eugene Skellenger Withdraws From City Council Race

Posted in City News at 7:10 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy  Schlichter

For those of you who have not seen today’s Stuart Herald Eugene Skellenger has withdrawn his name from consideration for a city council seat due to unforeseen circumstances.

October 23, 2007

Michael Renslow Announces Write-In Candidacy For City Council

Posted in City News at 5:47 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Mr. Michael Renslow confirmed today that he is seeking a seat on the city council as a write-in candidate.  His paid announcement is to be published in tomorrows Stuart Herald.

He wishes everyone to know that he is interested in seeing the town grow and is willing to look at problems facing the city with no preconceived agendas or bias.

His announcement increases the field of candidates to choose from to six.

Those wishing to vote for a write-in candidate must remember to fill in the box and spell the name correctly for the vote to count. 

Mr. Waddell Serious About Council Seat

Posted in City News at 12:18 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

This is a direct quote from Mr. Waddell that should put to rest the rumors that he is not serious about his bid for a seat on city council. 

“This is a rumor.  Also, I never once told anyone I wasn’t interested in the council seat because I wanted to spend more time with my girls.  I took out papers to run for my council seat and that is exactly what I intend to do.”

Beggars Night Is Now October 30th

Posted in City News at 11:34 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

It was confirmed by city hall today that Beggars Night is now scheduled for Tuesday, October 30th.  The downtown activities are from 5 – 7 pm and residential activities are from 6 – 8 pm.

The announcement will also be in the paper tomorrow.

October 21, 2007

Tired Of All The Political Phone Calls

Posted in 2008 Elections at 4:30 pm by thevoicesofstuart

or Messin’ With The PAC’s Cuz Its Fun.

I don’t know about you but in the last week alone I have had 13 phone calls from 5 presidential candidates.  The weeks before it was 14, 9, 6, 11 and so on.  It never fails that just when you get sat down to eat the phone rings.  Or the only tv show you really want to watch just starts and sure enough the phone rings.  And if that isn’t enough you go to the mailbox and there is more interchangeable campaign speak staring you in the face. 

The worst of it is that it has been going on for weeks and weeks now with nothing changing except the name of the candidate.

Have you noticed that one week they say one thing and then a poll comes out and everyone changes their speak to whatever the poll leader said the previous week.  Do they really think that people are so unattentive to not even notice.

So after putting up with this for a couple of weeks I started trying different ploys to get my name removed from their call lists because asking just wasn’t working.  That meant that I had to start getting creative and try different things because hanging up didn’t work either.

The first attempt was to just pick another candidates name at random and talk about how great they were until they hung up on me.  I tried that one four or five times but there was no noticable difference in the number of calls.

My second attempt was two part.  If the call was a recorded message I just laid the phone down on the table and left it there until the next time I walked by.  That way they have to pay for the call and I didn’t have to listen to them.  If it was a real person I simply told them that I was undecided.  Well as you can tell the first part accomplished it mission.  The second part was a big mistake because now I was branded as undecided and it generated more calls to try and convince me that they were the candidate for me.  It also confirmed that the candidates buy each others mailing lists.  What a set back this attempt was.

At this point it was time to really put my thinking cap on to come up with a plan for handling live calls keeping in mind that the objective was to make the phone stop ringing. 

I then tried saying that I would vote for whoever called me the least.  That they would get my vote by default simply because they did not waste my time as much as the other candidates.  But then the whole I cannot believe you would base your vote on such a silly reason rebuttals began.  Another failure.

This next scenerio was used with two other candidates names but just never got any decent results.  Basically because all the other candidates are so interchangeable that they believe that people can still be swayed in their thinking right up to the last minute so they will keep trying.  So then I tried using Ron Paul and it started working. 

I let them say their spiel and when they ask if they can count on my vote I simple reply no and stay quiet.  At this point the line goes quiet momentarily while they decide what to say next.  They then hesitatingly inquire if I would mind telling them who I have decided to vote for.  I reply with no I don’t mind and stay quiet again.  They go quiet again and then hesitatingly ask who I have decided to vote for.  I tell them Ron Paul and stay quiet.  After another pause on the other end they hesitatingly ask would I mind telling them why I chose him.  I reply with no I don’t mind and stay quiet.  After another pause they hesitatingly ask why did I choose him.  I tell them that I might not agree with everything he does but I can always count on him to say and do exactly what he says he will and then I stay quiet again.  At this point their reply is usually something along the lines of I can see you have made up your mind, thanks, goodbye.

So far this has worked on the callers from two weeks ago.  It was used on the five callers this week and only time will tell if it continues to work or not.   

The only reason I can think of that this seems to work is that it plays off of the impression campaigners have that Ron Paul supporters are unswayable.   

At this point the election is a little over a year away and everyone has plenty of time to decide.  So if the PAC’s think I want my phone to ring that many times a week for the next year they have another think coming.  I may never succeed completely but the trying is becoming a fun game just messing with them.           

October 16, 2007

Community Cultural Center Property Tax Info (Updated)

Posted in City News at 8:58 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

This is the info provided to Tom Smull by Ruan Securities outlining 4 different options on the funding for the CCC.  Depending on how the city council decides to fund the project after the referendum is passed determines the effect on property taxes.

Look for the Estimated Debt Service Levy at the top of each option.  Remember that these amounts are in addition to your current levy.

Property Tax Info

****Update Information**** 

At the request of Chip Schultz of Ruan Securities here is the link to restoreallsaints.org.  The top two “New” items reflect Referendum Frequently Asked Questions and the Property Owner Tax Scenarios.  The Property Owner Tax Scenarios is the same as the Property Tax Info listed here.  All questions regarding this information should be directed to Tom Smull.  His email connection is on the Restore All Saints site. 

October 13, 2007

Sample Ballot for November 6th

Posted in City News at 1:46 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Along with the vote for two new City Council members the voters will be asked to decide on two other issues.  The changing of the Library Board residency requirement and the grant for $1.7 M to fund the Community Cultural Center.

Here is the sample ballot you will see on November 6th.  Use the “+” sign in the heading above the document to increase its size for easier reading.

Sample Ballot 

Iowa Launches New, Free, Email School Alert System

Posted in City News at 1:24 pm by thevoicesofstuart

After checking out the state and school websites it does not appear that WCV has signed up yet but the service is now available free to every k – 12 school district in Iowa.      

Here is the article.

State Creates

October 12, 2007

What Do You Do When You Have Rotten Neighbors?

Posted in General at 9:46 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Well apparently a lot of people have rotten neighbors these days.  So many, in fact, that there is now a website dedicated to announcing to the world where these rotten neighbors live and just how bad they are.

You should be warned that some of the comments about the rotten neighbors are explicit and in some cases crude and vulgar.  It seems that there is a lot of venom that has developed over some of these neighbors.  Browse at your own risk on this site and determine if you need to block it from youngsters.

People planning to move are now using it to check out the neighborhoods before deciding on the purchase of a new home or renting a new apartment. 

For a site that has only been active for about 3 months now it is collecting rotten neighbor information quickly. 

All you have to do is enter a zip code then click on a pinpoint on the map. 

Here is the site. 

Rules For Write-Ins

Posted in City News at 4:20 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Since I have been hearing people express interest in write-in candidates for the upcoming election I decided to post the rules that must be followed so your vote will not be wasted.  They are not difficult to understand or follow.  Once you know them the probability of error goes down.

Here is the excerpts from Iowa Code which covers write-ins.   Write-In Info

The first lays out the rules for both paper and machine voting.  The second goes on to detail what a candidate must do after winning the election if you wish to research further than the portion I excerpted. 

If there are any questions about write-in votes they should be directed to the Iowa Secretary Of State, Elections Office at 515-281-0145.

October 11, 2007

Project Restore Wins $545K Vision Iowa Grant

Posted in City News at 12:46 pm by thevoicesofstuart

While the Vision Iowa Committee voted unanamiously to approve the grant it is contingent on the $1.7M referendum passing on November 6th. 

In a conversation with Mr. Smull monday evening he is working to get the dollar amount that the grant will increase property taxes if the referendum passes.  As soon as I get the information I will post it.  

Here is the Des Moines Register article.

October 9, 2007

October’s City Council Meeting

Posted in Council Meetings at 12:58 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

October 31st from 6 to 8 pm is Beggars Night downtown.  The Fire and Rescue personnel will be on hand to help with the kids.  The Police will have two cars on patrol for several hours that night also.

The Public Hearing for Amending the Urban Renewal Plan to include the existing city buildings was opened and closed with no speakers.  The resolution was passed to amend the Plan.

The Hazardous Substances Resolution was read and passed waiving any further readings.

The pay estimate for the trail project was approved and passed to make the first payment of $24 K.

Change Order #1 for N. Division Street to seal and cap 3 abandoned sewer lines was approved and passed.

Pay estimate #1 for N. Division Street was approved and passed.  A discussion about the amount of time city employees are spending watching the work on N. Division Street was brought up by Mr. Askren.  Mr. Aldrich explained that under the contract their inspector who is to oversee the work is payed per hour and that he also must go to Granger to check on  a project there for a couple of hours 2 to 3 times a week.  When he is off-site one of the city workers is there to observe construction.  City workers are also called when the construction crew finds anything unexpected.  Mr. Airhart stated that he also has been observing construction to have a first hand knowledge of exactly where different lines are being laid.  A discussion about who was liable if a city employee tells the contractor to do something and it is wrong.  He was told the city was but that if a question arises while the V & K representative was off-site city employees should call and notify the V & K rep immediately.  It was determined that city employees would go by and check every once in a while and the V & K rep would be there more.  Mr. Aldrich notified the council that the hours in the current contract may need to be increased.  Mr. Airhart was cautioned about watching the amount of time he spends observing.  The next discussion was about the trees that were damaged during construction.  The Utility Board is aware of the problem and is working on a solution and establishing a policy to cover this type of situation.

Mr. Sloan was back to provide information on the cost of a new city hall, library and police station complex based on comparable size to the Masonic Temple of 7,200 square feet.  Current numbers equate to approxiamately $200 for square foot for a ballpark total of $1.5 M.  The breakout was 3,100 sf for the library, 2,000 sf for city hall and 500 sf for police. 2,500 sf for the council room.  The packet contained straight cost estimates based on sf without any tailoring for actual choices of materials, furnishings or fixtures.  Mr. Sloan again pointed out that until the council gets together with the different areas and provides him with the final, approved square footage required for each activity and exterior materials this is the best he can do for a cost estimate.

Katie Phippen then  presented information from the library study.  The current library is just under 2500 sf.  Mr. Lawson’s estimate of gross total space required now was 5,668 sf with a 25% future expansion which brings it up to right around 7 K sf. 

Diane Schaffer requested assistance from the city on a drainage problem at the apartments on S. Division Street.  Every time it rains the alley drains down from both directions and empties into the parking area at the rear of the apartments.  After discussion Messieurs Askren and Airhart will go by and look at the area Tuesday evening.  It is thought that with some grading and a drain hookup to an existing line might solve the problem.

The last week in October there will be a dumpster sitting on the east side of city hall for use by the PD for a clean up day.  The PD will be participating in Beggars Night.  There is a increase in violent calls recently.  Robert notified the council that he is ready to start the hiring process for the fourth officer and that he already has an interested person and would not need to run ads.  The individual would need to attend the academy.

New Business

The Community Care Center has requested that the city have sidewalks installed in front the Heartland Church and the Stuart Motor Lodge to allow their residents a safe path instead of traveling in the street.  Mr. Beldon wanted to know if it would not be prudent to get a committee together and make a city plan for implementing sidewalks.  This was met with the same old arguments about we have people now who built new and have not installed sidewalks yet and do we even want to open that can of worms.  No actual decision was made on the issue.

Mr. Sherman then brought up the cars left parked on the empty lot north of the Casey Store.  Mr. Airhart also brought up that he had notified the owner about the sign.  The owner will be called and asked to have the cars removed.

Old Business

Mr. Airhart asked the council if they had given any thought to his request for a new street sweeper or if they were going to hire a company to do the job.  He was instructed to get prices on used sweepers and come back to the council with the info.

Mr. Waddell wanted to know why the no street parking was not in effect on N. Gaines and N. Fremont detour routes.  Mr. Airhart stated that the only time there is any congestion is morning and evening work drive times and that there really wasn’t any need to ban parking.  No changes were made.

Mr. Aldrich notified the council that the first grant application was in on the waste water treatment plant and should hear something back in December.  He requested permission to go ahead with the block grant application and would like to bring back to the council the application for the State Revolving Low Interest Rate Loan.  He was given the go ahead to proceed in developing the paperwork for submission.  Construction is tentatively scheduled for 2009.

Mr. Crawford wanted to know if there was any updated information on the Masonic Temple.  Mr. Aldrich informed him that he and Mr. Sloan only reviewed Mr. Olsen’s numbers.  They did not take any other engineers to the building.  He stated that the numbers seemed reasonable.  Mr. Olsen was told by Mr. Ashour that he did not need to do anything with the numbers and was not needed to attend the meeting.  Mr. Aldrich stated that was not something that they had any part in.  Mr. Askren was perturbed that Mr. Olsen was misinformed and did not have the information they thought he would have for them.  The discussion then digressed to what now.  Mr. Ashour recommended that they would take the information they have on the Masonic Temple, the cost estimate they have for the new building and go back to the committee and review everything to see if they are able to make a recommendation to the council on which direction they think they need to go.  Mr. Crawford asked the council if it was okay for him to go and talk to the School Board about the possibility of exploring a combined school/city library.  He was given the go ahead to explore the possibility with the understanding that the city was not going to wait on the school.  Katie Phippen notified the council that there are only 12 joint libraries in the state and that based on budget considerations that would not be the way to go.

Thus ended the meeting.  

October 5, 2007

October City Council Agenda

Posted in Agenda at 4:28 pm by thevoicesofstuart

Here is the agenda for the October 8th City Council Meeting.

Agenda October 8th, 2007 

October 4, 2007

Kids Left In Cars

Posted in General at 8:59 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Here is a topic sugggested by a reader with some pointed comments and concerns.  I have never been able to understand this type of incident.  Nor have I ever been able to reconcile the stance that police and the courts take on the issue.  As every situation should be judged on its merits this type never seems to reflect any standard application of rules to be judged against to determine culpability.  No matter the outcome these sad facts remain.  A child dies.  It was an entirely avoidable event that caused a death.  How sad.  

anonymous  Oct 4, 2:30 PM

Okay Peg. Here is a topic that I am getting really upset about. The news reported another infant death due to being left in the car. The mother was a pediatrician, the father has something to do with the medical field. Again, it was deemed an accident. My God, when are these lawmakers, judges, and others going to wake up. I don’t care what excuses they make, when you are a parent, the first thing you should be thinking about is where is my child? There should be no assumption on the part of either parent, that the other has taken care of the child. In this case, the child was in the back seat of the car, Mom picked up Dad, she moved to passenger seat, Dad drove. Dad dropped Mom off at work and proceeded to go play tennis. Did neither one of them remember they have a child together? Why didn’t Mom say the child was in the back, why didn’t Dad ask about his child and the childs whereabouts? Why didn’t Dad glance in backseat when getting in the car? I’m sorry we need a law that makes parents responsible for being parents. If it is too much of a job for them, and they can’t concentrate on that job above all others, they have no business being parents. To me, it is child endangerment to be in the hands of parents like these, and they should be held responsible to some degree. It is becoming an all too common excuse, just as is a plea of insanity or temporary insanity in a lot of murders. I am sorry, but if it were someone else watching those children, the parents would be filing charges against them.

What do you think?