June 23, 2008

Community Cultural Center Construction Update

Posted in City News at 8:43 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Mr. Tom Smull from Restore All Saints has released an update on the construction progress.

Construction Update

June 17, 2008

Street Department Bid Acceptance Delayed

Posted in Council Meetings at 8:28 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

One bid was submitted by Grimes Ashpalt for a price of $171k to do the streets submitted by Mr. Airhart for  repair and replacement.  Mr. Airhart informed the council that he could not get a sealcoat estimate because the contractor stated that because of the fluctuating cost of oil he is only giving quotes on signed contracts to be deleivered that day.  The council discovered that they did not have the layout sheet from the last council meeting to refer to in determining which streets to do.  Mr. Airhart stated that he did not bring his copy either.

Mr. Sherman reviewed the bid stating the base bid for all the patching was a total of $171k.  Alternate 1, Adair Street, $74k.  Alternate 2, $72k for N. Harlan Street from 10th to 7th.  Alternate 3 is N. Harlan from 2nd to 5th at $46.5k.

Mr. Airhart informed the council that there is only $120k of State money in the budget for streets.

Mr. Sherman recommended that Mr. Airhart go back and prioritize the projects and come back with his recommendations on exactly what absolutely needs to be done.

After some discussion on the different types of work needed Mr. Ashour recommended that they accept the bid with a dollar limit and they could research to see of the could find some other funds.

Mr. Sherman asked the attention be paid to drainage when laying the asphalt.

It was determined that the bid was good for 30 days and the acceptance could be delayed to the next regular council meeting in July to allow the council to review Mr. Airhart’s prioritized list.

Mr. Airhart informed the council of the volume of street traffic that was requested at the last meeting.  He provided numbers from August of 07.

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Two Police Officers Resign

Posted in Council Meetings at 5:50 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Robert reported two resignations to the council.  Officer Reha’s last day is June 20th and is returning to Colorado for a higher paying job.  Sgt Hrubetz last day is June 29th and will  begin work as a Adair County Deputy Sheriff on July 1st.  He informed the council that he had already placed ads for the two positions.  Mr. Waddell asked if there were any previous applicants they could consider.  He was informed there is possibly one.   Mr. Waddell then asked if we had paid for Officer Reha’s Iowa Certification.  He was informed that they had bought him a book to study and he was then suppose to go and take the test.  Before Officer Reha was scheduled for the test Robert reported that he was informed by a higher up at the academy that he could not be certified that way.  Robert reported that he then got him scheduled to go to the acadamy later this year but since he is leaving he has withdrawn him from the course.  There was no charge associated with this.

Officer Hrubetz addressed the council and thanked them for the opportunities provided over the last year and a half.  He informed them that he does not have to move and will still be around and that he will be mostly working the night shift.

The council voted to accept both resignations.

Mr. Belden then raised the issue that before the next meeting they would be down to two officers and shouldn’t they consider the overtime issue.  Robert responded that was his next topic for discussion.  He then reqested the authorization of overtime for himself and Officer Larson.  Mr. Waddell asked if he had made arrangements with other departments for off duty officers to help cover some on the shifts.  Robert informed them that he had talked to Sheriff Baird and they would help out with a couple or three shifts a month.  Mr. Waddell then asked how many hours of overtime he would need and Robert responded that he hadn’t worked on next month’s schedule yet.  Mr. Sherman stated the he was confident that Robert would work it out like the last time.  Mr. Waddell added that the council would take care of the overtime.

Mr. Waddell congratulated Robert and his staff for the work done this weekend.  They were very visible and there when needed.  Mr. Sherman asked if there were any big issues from over the weekend.  None were reported.  They are looking at expanding the street dance area so it is not so crowded next year.

The Shorter Agenda Items

Posted in Council Meetings at 12:08 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlicher

Easement Granted

Mr. Michael Hauf was granted an easement for alley abandonment on the 600th block of Front Street after the public hearing where no objections were voiced.  The easement has a clause that withdraws the abandonment if the house is destroyed or removed.

City Code

The council voted to have the City Code re-codified after no objections were voiced at the public hearing.

Hotel/Motel Tax Allowcation

Mr. Jerry Vitzthum reported to the council the recommendation for $5630. for continuing the White Pole Road Publicity Project.  The money includes ensuring the events and points of interest are publicised and the compilation of a coffee table book of pictures and interviews of the different aspects of the history of the road.

Depot Project

The coucil approved a second payment on the architectuarl fees of the project.  The fees will be reimbursed to the city as the project recieves grant money.

Auidit Report

The council approved the payment of $13, 038.78 for the city audit.

Trail Project

The council approved the final payment of the trail project.

Dell OIl Snow Removal Challenge and Update  On The Old MedEvac Site

Mr. Bump reported to the council that he had checked with both the County Treasurer and Assessor who both reported that there was no tax break given on the site.  The Assessor did say that he stopped by a while ago to ask if he could receive some kind of tax reduction if he did allow the site to be used for that purpose.  They informed him that he could not receive any reduciton for allowing its use.

Mr. Bump informed the council that he had completed his research on the snow removal citation challenged by Dell Oil.  He concluded that the officers did what they were suppose to do but that the procedure the city has did not provide for absentee owners and he did not think that the city complied with their due process obvligations.  He then recommended that the council void the December citation.  He further recommended to to the council that while they were meeting with the re-codification team they further research that code.  The council then discussed the current code and came to no conclusion other than they wanted to discuss the matter some more at a later date.  The item was then tabled until the next meeting.

Cigarette Permits

The council approved the resolution to approve the cigarette permits for the next year.

Mr. Vanlandingham Farewell Letter

Mr. Ashour asked the council for approval to put together an appropriate thank you letter for Mr. Vanlandingham saluting his hard word and performance for the city.  The council agreed and asked him to look into a certificate or some type of token of appreciation.

New Business

Mr. Crawford raised an issue about the intersection on the NE corner of the Cultural Center and recommended that some type of sign be placed there to control traffic because of the congestion there.  Robert recommended a 4 way stop be placed there.  After a short discussion the council decided to have the resolution prepared for the next meeting.

Mr. Crawford asked who tore up the ground around the bathrooms and stands at the sports field.  Mr. Bump stated that the school did.  Mr. Crawford wanted to make sure who was responsible for the area before he approached the school about it.

Mr. Crawford asked who was responsible for the concession stand at the sports field because there was a problem with the water backing up there during the tournaments last weekend.  He was informed that the city owns it but they give money to the school to maintain it.

Mr. Crawford asked if something could be done about the parking south of the walking trail on the south side of the sports complex.  Mr. Ashour will have someone look at the problem.

Mr. O’Keeffe asked when the new name was going to be put on the soccer fields.  He was informed that the name will be on the new scoreboards.

Old Business

Mr. Belden asked what they were going to do on moving forward with the library decision.  It was determined that both Mr. Belden and Crawford would attend the school meetings to discuss the issue.

Mr. Vitzthum updated the council on the progress of the Community Cultural Center Renovation.  The old floor has been torn out and replaced with a good base.  The repointing of the outside walls has been checked and is in excellent condition.  They have checked the steel and are awaiting the results but they are confident that it is in good condition.  The roof contractors are moving forward and are confident that it will be completed before winter.  They are continuing to apply for grants to upgrade the inside.

Mr. Waddell informed him that he is getting questions about when they are going to start the renovation.  He was informed that the work being done now is inside and not visible.  Once people see the roof going on and the outside work get going they will realize the progress being made.  Mr. Vintzthum also pointed out that they have businesses that wish to donate more money but want to see the roof on before they commit.  The Vision Iowa grant is in place and once the roof goes on they are planning to use a picture for their brochures.

Aquatic Center Moves Forward And Bathhouse Construction Accepted

Posted in Council Meetings at 9:38 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

The council voted to go forward with the $1.72 M General Obligation Bond for the Aquatic Center after no objections were voiced at the public hearing.

The council voted to approve the soil boring for the Aquatic Center which came in under budget and showed that the results were positive for the project.

Mr. Ashour presented a resolution to accept the construction completion of the bathhouse with A little over $10k held back for the completion of some minor items.  Mr. Airhart performed the walk through inspection and was satisfied with the work.

Change Order 3 and payments 8 and 9 were approved.

Mr. Chip Schultz addressed the council to inform them that they were now at a point that they could go forward with one large bond for both the Aquatic Center and City Buildings Projects.  He recommended that they do that to save fees and interest payments over the life of the bond.  He also suggested that they do a short term financing on both projects to cover architectural and design fees.  Mr. Aldrich informed the council that he could provide the Aquatic Center numbers but could not provide numbers on the city buildings until the council decides on the location of the library.  Mr. Schultz recommended to the council that they use the higher of the amounts for the city buildings and do the short term financing before the Federal Reserve starts raising the interest rate since it affects the short term lending rates.  He also stressed that they needed to try and minimize any differences between the borrowing rate and the reinvestment rates to avoid losing money.

Mr. Crawford informed the council that there is a meeting next week with a few of the School Board Members, Rambo and some members of the Tax Committee to the discuss how they could move forward with this.  Council Members Crawford and Belden plan to attend.

Mr. Belden informed the council that the funds for the drop off lane at the Aquatic Center was not in the street funds for this year so the Aquatic Center Committee voted to use their donations money to have it completed before Good Egg Days.

June 16, 2008

What Is Killing My Baby Garter Snakes?

Posted in General at 11:19 am by thevoicesofstuart

And Two Other Snake Stories

By Peggy Schlichter

Before I get started with the snake question you should know that I am not really a reptile loving person but I am smart enough to know that they have a purpose.  I have yet to discover a mouse in the house, never seen very many grasshoppers or other small insects in the yard and so as long as I don’t step on one I pretty much believe in “you do your thing and I’ll do mine”.   Of course when one crawls across my foot it usually takes me a few minutes to remember that.  In the evenings I have to remember to look at the south step before I step outside since they tend to like to catch the last of the days heat there.  When mowing the yard there is usually a time or two that I have to slow down or stop for a minute to let them find a escape route.

Don’t get the wrong impression.  I am not overrun by garter snakes.  I can go weeks and not see one and then I will go days and see several.  There are fewer now than when I first moved in and started cleaning up the tree line on the south and east of the house.  In the beginning I had to be careful and watch what I was grabbing when picking up debris.

So I guess that brings me to my original question.  Here is what I am seeing and wondering about.  I have noticed over the last month or so around 9 dead baby garter snakes in the yard.  They are only chewed up for a few inches behind the head.  The head is usually laying nearby.  There are no other marks on them.  I have ruled out the lawn mower since they tend to chop them up more and you can usually hear it happen if they have any size to them.  They are not squished like you would see if they were run over and did the death wiggle into the yard.  I see them more in the back of the yard than the front.  I have only found one in the area penned for the dogs and other than a sniff when they first found it they ignored it completely.  This is the first year that I have found so many of them dead.  It is only the babies getting killed.  I have found no full grown ones in that condition.

If it was a fox, possum, or raccoon I would think that they would be eating them.  I just do not see them passing up a favorite meal.  Especially after they have gone to the trouble of catching them.

The bite marks are small and usually close together.  Like only about a half inch or less between the left and right incisor marks.  I have pretty much ruled out other larger snakes because they would not chew off the heads.  It looks like once the they are dead whatever is killing them just walks away and leaves them.

So what other animals do we have around here that could be killing the baby snakes?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Two Other Snake Stories

The names have been changed to spare them the embarrassment.

Jake The Snake Moves In

When I came back from Germany the last time I was living south of Petersburg, VA with a couple of friends on about 50 acres of farm ground not to far from the BlackWater Swamp.  There was an old barn that had a leanto on each side that was used to park a car in one side and the tractor, mower and other equipment in the other.

One spring I noticed that a large black snake had taken up residence in the equipment side of the barn.  My friends were computer people.  They could make, repair, program, write operating and application systems and discuss computer related theory as fun and sport but they could never remember to check the oil in the mower before using it.  That is probably why they were buying a new one every other year before I started living there since I found six with blown motors in the shed behind the barn.  So one night at supper I told them that Jake the Black Snake had taken up residence in the equipment side of the barn but that they should know that snakes do not stay put.  They move and hunt for food.  If they saw it they should just go around and leave it be.  After explaining about the good snakes do and that it was not poisonous and answering about a thousand geek questions they finally agreed that there was no reason for alarm and would leave it alone.  The hard problem was getting them to agree not to try and catch it and take it to work for show and tell.  Geeks are funny sometimes.

For the next couple of weeks at supper they reported their snake sightings.  It was never I saw Jake in the tree today.  It went more like….I was just pulling into the yard at 5:37pm this evening and Jake the Snake was crawling across the driveway approximately 9 feet south of the big cedar tree traveling from east to west in a slow leisurely fashion.  I used to tease them that if they ever got bored with computers they could become security guards because they already had the report writing down.  That always got the appropriate level of groans out of them.

So here comes the funny part of the story.

One evening as I was coming up the drive I see Lucy with the garden hose spraying water over the roof of the equipment leanto at the overhang for the center of the barn.  Then I see George running out of the house with a .32 pistol and start shooting at the same place.  Then I see Lucy turn the hose on George because he is shooting at the barn with his eyes closed.  At least the shot of water made him drop the gun.  At this point I pulled up to them as they were fighting about why did you spray me with water and why are you shooting holes in the barn.  They had completely forgotten about what they were doing in the first place.  But again this was nothing new for them.

After getting their attention by laying on the horn until they shut up I asked them what they were spraying water on and shooting at and their reason for doing so.

Lucy pointed up to the overhang on the center of the barn and started telling me there is a snake up there fighting with Jake and she thought she could break them up and run the other one off by shooting water on them.

George’s excuse for shooting holes in the barn was that spraying water was not working so he thought he could scare off or kill the other snake to keep it from hurting Jake.

Geeks, ya just gotta love their logic about non-computer things sometimes.

Well you have got to know that it was all I could do to keep a straight face because they were so serious about protecting Jake from this other snake.

About this time the two snakes fell out of the overhang, land on the leanto roof and since it was a tin roof and they were still “fighting” started to slide down and almost off the roof.  Lucy and George started screaming that the other snake was going to hurt Jake if they fall off the roof and asking what they should do.

At this point I bust out laughing so hard it was all I could do to stand up any more.  I mean it was a real gut cramper.  Of course they are now mad at me and start yelling about how insensitive I am to Jake’s problem and I had better tell them what to do.

After pulling myself back together and getting them calmed down I started to explain that they should not do anything.  Which started another round of I can’t believe you are going to let Jake get hurt by this other snake and them getting mad at me again because I started laughing again.  Not that I could get another word in edgewise after they interrupted me.

About this time the snakes fall off the roof, they start screaming and running over to see if Jake is hurt and I try to stop them before they get to close and really start a problem.

I finally got a hold of the back of both of their jean waists and got them stopped far enough away to stay out of trouble.  In the mean time they are lost in geek logic about what is happening and what they think they should do not even realizing that they were still running in place because I have a hold of them and I am still laughing my you know what off.

Luckily their stamina gave out and they turned around to see why they were not going any where.

I let go of their jeans after I got a promise they would stay still and let me finish explaining.  I pointed at the two snakes who were just starting to unwind and go their separate ways and explained that they were not fighting they were mating.  That that is how snakes do it and there was no fighting involved.  That the fall did not hurt them since they landed in about two feet of thick grass and they probably did not even notice it since they were otherwise distracted.

You would think that they would be embarrassed about mistaking mating for fighting, trying to break them up like a dog fight or shooting holes in the barn but nooooo, not these two.  Their discussion morphed right into why snakes would even try to mate like that, how do the even find the right connection and someone needed to teach them a better way to accomplish the task.

At this point I gave up and started dragging them to the house to keep them from deciding to catch them and try and teach them better mating habits.  A discussion they finally came to at supper that I had to put the squash to.

Jake The Snake Goes Out To Eat And Takes A Sun Bath

Every spring I would go down to the feed store and get 12 guinea fowl chicks, and 6 each of mallards and peking ducks, geese goslings and bronze turkeys chicks to raise and help control insects around the house.  They were cheap and ate lots of ticks and mosquitoes of which there were many living so close to the swamp.

In order to keep Jake the Snake away from them when I first brought them home and they were still small enough for a good snake smorgasbord I put them in a covered wire cage in the barn under a heat lamp.  Then pour a ring of sulfur around the cage to keep him from getting close enough to find a way in.  Hey it worked and they got a chance to grow big enough that they were a challenge to catch or to big to eat.

As they started to get big enough the run to around some during the day I would let them out into a pen behind the barn for a few hours to get them used to being outside and get some sunlight.  As with all babies you have to play with them and get them used to your voice.  As young things do they follow your heels as you walk and come running when you call which was a good thing because I put them back in the cage at night and didn’t want to have to chase them to get that done.  And of course I laid down the sulfur around the pen to avoid a Jake problem.

When I moved the pen every week or so to new grassy ground I wanted them to have some shade.  I was going to be gone that afternoon and didn’t want them to get to hot.  That was my mistake.  When I got home I got out the tractor and hooked up the woods mower to get some cutting done.  As I drove around back of the barn I noticed all the babies were in a group in the far corner of the pen and a black lump just inside the gate.  After going over to look and see what was going on I discovered Jake had climbed the tree, dropped in and had a full meal deal on three of the duck chicks.  He was laying there fat, happy and three lumps full with what I found out to be no intention of leaving the pen.  He was in heaven and not happy with being asked to leave.  I finally went and got a long handled shovel and picked him up and tossed him out of the pen hissing all the way.  He was quite irate about being evicted. He finally gave up and started crawling back under the barn.

I put the babies back in the barn and moved the pen to a spot without overhanging trees and hung a tarp over part of the top for shade.  During this course of events I had moved the tractor back to the front of the barn so I could get the pen moved.

Not thinking about Jake any more I ended up going to the house for a drink of water.  He was full if not really happy with me for the eviction but I figured I would not see him for a few days as he digested his meal.  About that time George and Lucy show up from work and they see that I have the tractor and mower sitting out.

Now you have to realize that their fascination with the tractor was getting to be quite intense.  Remember they are geeks who had left it in the shed for 6 years because they could not figure out how to start it.  No key, go figure.  Every time I would do any type of maintenance on the tractor when they were around it was time for them to play 60 questions.  It was like having 2 three year olds around sometimes.

Anyway I digress.  They were out of the car and standing next to the tractor having a discussion about what they thought I might be getting ready to do to the tractor when I came out of the house.  In order to avoid the impending 60 questions I started telling them that it was not time to do maintenance on the tractor I was going to mow til supper time since it was not my week to cook.  Since they both knew how to start the tractor now they both tried to be the first one on to start it for me.  There is nothing funnier that two 40ish year old geeks fighting over who gets to get on a tractor to start it.

About that time I notice Jake is stretched out in his 3 lump glory resting on a nice warm back tire right beside them as they are starting a pushing match to be the one to get on the tractor first.  Jake is already unhappy because of the eviction and he had thought that he found a nice warm spot to lay and digest his dinner.  Now these two are trying to evict him from his warm spot without even knowing it and I see he is getting agitated which is not a good thing with them so close and oblivious.

My dilemma was, how do I get their attention without causing an over reaction from them or Jake and how do I explain the three lumps once they realize Jake is sick and needs attention.  You see I already knew where the conversation was headed.

I ended up walking up and grabbing a hold of both of them and backing away from the tractor.  The fight morphed into hey we were just going to start the tractor for you.  I then pointed out where Jake was and that they were disturbing his sun bath trying to keep them distracted from the lumps.  I started a conversation about how snakes liked to sun bathe and how when they always saw him he was laying in a sunny spot.  It almost worked until they turned around to tell him they would see him later because they were going to go change clothes.  That is when they noticed the three lumps and asked if he was sick and did we need to do anything for him.  I told them that he had just eaten and was resting to digest his meal.  That seemed to satify them so they headed for the house.

As I followed them to the house to make sure that they did not get distracted and return to Jake watching they started wondering what he had eaten.  That is when I knew I was in trouble.  They had taken to the babies and would spend hours letting them follow them around, walking them down to the creek and letting them swim and petting them like dogs.  And they counted them every time they went to the pen.  I was doomed.  I would have to explain the whole story because the count matched and there was no way they would not put two and two together.  Jake would become a villain and they would want to do away with him for eating the babies.

It turned out to be a tough night of explaining the whole story, apologizing for my dumbness when moving the pen, inspecting every baby to make sure none were injured, talking and playing with each one to make sure they had recovered from their trauma and finally getting a very late supper.  Jake was the only one who escaped their attention because he was smart enough to make himself scarse for a week.

June 14, 2008

Parade Pics

Posted in City News at 2:53 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Not that I can ever claim to be any good with a camera but I tried to get some pics of the Good Egg Parade this morning.  Not only did I forget to delete the old pics off until I was already trying to take pics but I even forgot to check the batteries before I left home.  Needless to say I ended up with about 13 decent pictures so I thought I would throw them up.  Click on the pic and after it comes up click on it again for the big pic.  This is the first time I have tried to use the gallery function so let me know if it is worth it or not.



June 13, 2008

Agenda, June City Council Meeting

Posted in Agenda at 4:15 pm by thevoicesofstuart

Here is the agenda for the June City Council Meeting.

Agenda, June City Council Meeting

Good Morning Good Eggs!

Posted in City News at 9:35 am by thevoicesofstuart

And A Merry Friday The 13th.

By Peggy Schlichter

Well today kicks off Good Egg weekend.  A time of parades, socializing, kids riding the rides, ball games, street dances and all around get togethers to have fun.  Every year the town celebrates its Good Eggs.  A time for all the folks who have worked hard for the last year to get together and have a little fun.

This year as we start to dry out a bit it should have a little extra meaning.  Everyone with basements who are tired of pumping water and cleaning up the mess need a little break.  I know I do.  I woke up to a foot of water in my basement yesterday morning.  Those who have been living with the problem longer than I have I can now comiserate.  No hot water, no A/C and the mess until it dries enough to see what is damaged.  So I am choosing to look at yesterday being my Friday the 13th and today and this weekend of clear weather as my reward for putting up with the mess.  Speaking of which I have avoided going to look this morning until I finish this post.

I did manage to get my trellis’s up yesterday as the pump was working on its task of clearing the water.  Funny thing is when you buy an old house you tend to find odd things.  By the time the water was down enough to see what was going on I discovered a tile that opens into my basement.  Where it comes from and why it is there is a mystery that I will have to look into.  It was not a happy discovery.  Just why would someone build a house and leave a open tile running into the basement?  One has to wonder.

Anyway, it is a question that will not be answered this weekend.  I intend to enjoy the festivities.  Hope to see you there.

June 5, 2008

Let’s Talk A Little Economics

Posted in The Economy at 10:40 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

I know that most people could care less about economics unless it smacks them in the face but the smacking is starting to happen.  Just go to the grocery store, pharmacy or gas station and the checkout shock is becoming more and more apparent.

This realization is or should be a wake up call to anyone who lets life slide by without paying attention to the economics of our way of life.  You work hard, pay into your 401k’s, put money in savings, maybe dabble in the stock market or just try to get by feeding and clothing your family.  But, the economics of our system of finance is a very large giant that never gets attention until we are forced by realities to pay attention.

As everyone probably knows by now I read.  I read a lot.  I read about just about anything that catches my attention at any given time.  I research topics to find a better understanding of how they affect my life or how they will affect it in the future.  That is just me.

One area I have been reading about for the last 8 or 9 years is economics and how they apply to what I see happening around me every day.  Now I see more and more how the economics of today is going to wreck havoc on the U. S. for many years to come.  I do not see a front running political candidate who has the smarts or wisdom lead this country during the coming economic times.  Nor do I see that there are many people who will know what hit them until it is to late.

The conventional wisdom for investing is to buy and hold to let the investment appreciate in value.  That holds true for an economy that is based on a “value added” scenario.  Sure the investment will go up and down but overall over time it trends upward.  That is the bull charging forward.  But there are times when the bear comes lumbering down the mountain tearing up everything in sight.  Our older generation will remember the depression they were born into.  Many of the younger generation have no idea what a depression means.  Worse yet very few understand inflation and deflation.  Inflation is insidious because it has only one true effect.  It robs people of their wealth.  What you saved or earned is worth less and less.  Deflation is the term used to describe how the inflation unwinds.

Which brings to mind the old adage of what goes up must come down.  While that was intended to help teach gravity it also reflects economics as different stages play out.  Since we are social people who tend to follow the prevalent societal trends we become focused on how we are used to things being and continue on.  When something happens to disrupt that trend we usually react with surprise and most times anger because we were not expecting it.  Our expectations get violated and feelings of fear and anger take over.  That is just human nature.

After watching for some time now what is going on in the financial world I am more convinced than ever that there is an ugly picture waiting to be painted over the next many years.  In the developing or third world countries the early stages of upheaval have begun.  Their economies have narrower capital margins so even small fluctuations in prices can be catastrophic.

So what happens in a nation like ours when inflation is allowed to grow?

In order to understand you need to know how inflation happens.  You also need to understand how deflation works.  You also have to understand the difference in the basis for the causes of inflation.  There is good inflation and there is bad inflation.  The problem is that we are staring at bad inflation.

Here is the most succinct and short explanation that shows that relationship. It provides a look at the fundamental cause and effect of the inflation we see now and where and why it is going in that direction.  It explains deflation as it relates to the economics of the times.

June 2, 2008

The Last 3 Topics

Posted in Council Meetings at 2:45 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Both resolutions were passed to set the date of the public hearings at the next council meeting on June 16th for re-codifying the Code of Ordinances and to grant the alley easement on Front Street for Mr. Hauf.

Ruby’s and Johnie’s outdoor liquor permits were approved for Good Egg Days.

The allowcation of Hotel/Motel Tax was tabled until the next meeting.

There was no New or Old Business.

Council Approves Go Ahead On Street Bids

Posted in Council Meetings at 2:35 pm by thevoicesofstuart

and Mr. Airhart reports problem with parking in alley.

By Peggy Schlichter

Mr. Ashour asked the council for approval to request bids for all the proposed street projects.  Mr. Airhart informed the council that doing so will use all of the available street money.  Mr. Sherman stated that they needed to bid everything to cover all their options.  If a decision needed to be made they would have the information needed to make the decisions with.

Mr. Airhart reported to the council that there was a problem with people parking in the alley behind Mr. Williams lawnmower shop and requested permission to put up no parking signs in that alley from where he goes into his shop to 3rd Street.  When asked what the problem was he explained that frequently the  bulk truck is parked there overhanging the alley 3 to 4 feet.  People stop to talk to him and leave vehicles parked in the alley.  The mayor asked if he had talked to him and he responded with yes on 3 different occasions.  When asked what Mr. Williams response was Bob informed them that Mr. Williams would try to take care of it but the problem still exists.

Mr. Sherman  asked if there was an ordinance already in effect for parking in the alleys.  No one seemed to know.  Robert informed the council that impeding the flow of traffic is already there.  It was decided that Robert would keep an eye on the situation.

A motion was made and passed to approved the request for bids on the street projects.

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For those of you interested, here is an excerpt for alleys from the City Ordinance on Parking Regulations .

69.07.15 states:

Alleys.  No person shall park a vehicle within an alley in such a manner or under such conditions as to leave available less than ten (10) feet of the width of the roadway for the free movement of vehicular traffic, and no person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle within an alley in such a position as to block the driveway entrance to any abutting property.  The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to a vehicle parked in any alley which is eighteen feet wide or less; provided said vehicle is parked to deliver goods or services.

North Division Street Project

Posted in Council Meetings at 1:43 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Mr. Aldrich recommended to the council that they do a limited acceptance because that were still some outstanding issues on the project.  Those issues still needing completion were the cleanup list, several issues of the water side and the east side if the interchange on 4th and N. Division.  He further informed them that the contractor had responded to the liquidated damages letter saying that they intended to contest the amount.  Mr. Aldrich pointed out that the response did not mention the area at 4th and Division and that they were still holding around $34 k so that there was money to play with.

The use of the limited acceptance for the work finished was needed to make the property assessments and get them submitted to the county.  He reminded the council that assessments can only be submitted once a year and the 30th was the last day.  Otherwise they would have to wait until next year to submit the assessments.

He also wished to respond to the contractor letter on the liquidated damages and he needed to know how they wished to pursue that.  The decision did not have to be made now but they needed to discuss it.

The council made and passed all the resolutions to approve the limited acceptance on the project and levying the assessments.

Mr. Aldrich informed the council that they needed to set the interest rate on the assessments.  Mr. Ashour informed the council that they were usually set at 9%.  Mr. Aldrich explained to the council that they way it usually works is the homeowner is sent a letter and given 30 days to pay off all, some or none of the assessment.  What is not paid at the end of the 30 days is put on their tax bill.  The interest rate is set by the council anywhere from 5 to 9%.  Some cities use 9% as an incentive to get homeowners to pay the assessments off quickly some don’t.  After a short discussion the council decided to use a 6% interest rate.

A short discussion then took place about the response to the contractor on the liquidated damages.  The council decided that the reply needed to state that they had to fix 4th and Division Street and then they would re-evaluate the liquidated damages.

Aquatic Center Project (Updated)

Posted in Council Meetings at 12:41 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Mr. Chip Schultz informed the council that they still had the option to go forward with one large  general obligation bond for the city projects while still paying for them with TIF monies other than the refinance of the bathhouse.  He reminded the council that the difference in interest rates between the 2 types of bonds would provide a substantial savings in interest payments.  The dual track would not slow down the progress of the projects.

The council agreed and Mr. Ashour informed the council that the next regular council meeting is moved to the 16th of June to accomodate the public notice requirements for the public hearings.

Both motions were made and passed to move forward on the project under a dual path.

The council now has the ability to choose between the type of financing to be used at the next council meeting.

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As a reminder, a general obligation bond may be used but paid for by TIF money without affecting property tax rates.

A side question I asked Mr. Schultz after he resumed his seat was how much TIF money was left if all the projects are funded by TIF.  His response was approxamatly $200 K remained but that there are TIF areas that expire during the life of the bonds.  I then asked if those areas can be re-certified.  He stated that they could but that the whole certification process must happen including a new tax valuation of the areas.

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Update

The council approved the Engineering Agreement for the Aquatic Center with the understanding that if for some reason the project does not proceed the amount due on the agreement would be for only the work completed.  This was done to avoid holding the project timeline up so that the construction can be completed as close to the regular pool opening next year as possible.

School Requests Street Closing on N. Main

Posted in Council Meetings at 12:14 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Mr. Dave Thomas from the Facilities Cost Management Group made a presentation to the council on areas and activities that will require mutual work to see which areas the city and school can mutually benefit from on the school project.

The Elementary School Additions and Renovations listed the following areas for consideration:

Options for a shared library, media and technologies areas.

Requested closing of N. Main Street between N. 2nd and N. 3d Street to allow the construction of the elementary school addition west of the current building.

Enhanced parking and drop-off areas on N. 2nd and N. 3rd Streets.

Alley improvements for the alley west of N. Main Street to widen and install 60 off street parking spaces.

Utilities infrastructure improvements including either re-routing or protecting north-south water and sanitary sewer lines which pass under 60 feet of the proposed new lobby area and the storm sewer passing under the area proposed for the addition construction.  A new water connection to support the building fire sprinklers requiring larger water capacity.

The New High School Site listed the following areas for consideration:

A new street for access to the new school from White Pole Road to the north and reconnect aligned with the intersection at Victor Avenue.

Utilities infrastructure improvements which need to be extended for the water and storm sewers to the school site.  Gas and water lines are already in place.

Shared facilities options already included in the school plans make areas like the gym and commons readily available for large group activities.  Other options such as incorporating a Fitness Center can easily be added to the layout.

Mr. Thomas asked the council if they could get together to discuss these options by the middle of June to determine the councils needs and willingness to partner on any or all of the options.

A date was not set for the discussion.

Mr. Sherman asked if they there had been a traffic study done on out streets.  Mr. Airhart stated that DOT did one 2 years ago.  He asked if they could get a new one done on White Pole Road and N. Main Street.  Mr. Airhart stated that he would contact the county or state and see if he could get one done but informed the council that this is very short notice and may not be done before the next meeting.

Robert informed the council that in 3 days the west bound lane of White Pole Road had 2,013 vehicles.  When asked about what the daily traffic was he informed them that it was not broken down for that.  It just recorded total numbers, highest speed and average speed.

Mr. Waddell then reasoned that the majority of the count was probably commute traffic.  Mr. Sherman then reasoned that with that amount of traffic they would need to widen the street and put in sidewalks.

This ended the discussion.