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New mayor, councilman sworn into office in Hancock

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Before handing over the gavel, so to speak, Bruce Schmidgall administered the oath of office to newly elected mayor, Bruce Malo on Monday night. After swearing in Malo, Schmidgall thanked everyone for serving with him during those twelve years.

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"It has been interesting as we continue to keep the city going." stated Schmidgall. "It is a tough job but an important job. You always have to think and do what is best for the city. Sometimes you have to put yourself second and do what's best for the city. I hope we can continue to do that and I thank you for all your service."

Malo then conducted his first official duty as mayor, swearing in new council member Bob Staples. Since Malo was also a council member, his move to mayor left a seat vacant on the council. In an official capacity, the council members then had to pass a resolution declaring the vacancy on the council before deciding how to proceed with filling the seat.

Malo made a suggestion to appoint Fred Crowell to the seat. He explained the Crowell had not actually ever run for the council seat, instead sought election to the school board, but he felt he would come to the council well-prepared and would not have any hidden agenda or axe to grind. Crowell lives in Hancock, has children in the Hancock school and is a supervisor with Mediacom.

Councilman Jeff Kisgen had a different suggestion. He thought it would be best if people who might be willing to fill the position, complete an application, since there may be more than one person interested. That way, the council members could learn more about the individuals and what there thoughts might be regarding the city.

Councilmen Dennis Schroeder and Bob Staples agreed with the application process, aware that there were other people interested. The notice for the application process will be placed in the newspaper and applications are due back before Feb. 6. The council members can then make a recommendation at the February council meeting. According to law, they have three months to fill the seat.

Stevens County Sheriff Jason Dingman and Emergency Management Director Dona Greiner were present at the meeting to review some county wide policies regarding Emergency Operations and Threat hazard. There will be special meetings and drills set up within the county to train for possible emergency situations. There is also some on-line training that Greiner encouraged the council members to take.

Sheriff Dingman also thanked the council members for taking part in these training and programs.

"Thank you for taking part in this and taking it seriously" stated Dingman. "I also want to say that we are here for you if you need something, give us a call."

Council then accepted a final report from Bolton and Menk who conducted the sump pump inspections. Kent told the council that they were able to inspect 319 out of the 325 properties in the city. Of these, 199 did not have a sump pump. The inspection of the remaining 120 had 23 failed inspections. 21 of these have since then passed with two still planning to get the work done. He and city clerk Andrea Swenson had reviewed the remaining six and feel it is unlikely to get a response from these. However, the city is billing them the $100 fee for not allowing the inspection.

The report also contained a graph showing the flows going into the sewer plant especially after heavy rains. Since last year was a relatively dry summer, it was hard to determine if the sump pump changes were working. There was some decrease in flows on rainy days compared to previous years, so this indicates change. The city may want to look at further steps since the flows are still above the set average. The next steps could be using televised sewer checks or smoke testing to look for foundation drains.

Other business

* The council members approved refinancing of the 1999 sewer bond as discussed a few months ago. The city will see a savings of $80,490 over the life of the remining 15 years on the bond.

* Joe Udelhofen, hired by the city to do early safety inspections and advising, reported that he and Police Chief Matt Flogstad had conducted a preliminary survey. They found some possible OSHA violations that they considered not too serious and will be making recommendations for some changes. There will also be some suggestions for what he called 'housekeeping' areas and will require some corrective action. The city approved another 50 hours for Udelhofen to continue with these issues.

* Council members discussed what to do about a garage owned by the city located on Sixth Street. The garage is currently used only to store one of the fire trucks and is in need of some repairs. The building seems to have sunk and the doors won't close totally. The council building committee will take a look at it and make a recommendation to the full council.

* A resolution setting meetings, times, committees and other yearly items was approved by the council members for 2013.

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