Street repair work approved in Hancock
There is just enough summer left for work to be done on some of the city streets. At their meeting on Monday night, the Hancock city council members approved cracksealing and sealcoating for several streets. Basically, they were told that most of the streets in town look good, but it is important to take care of what you can each year in order to maintain the roads.
There was some concern voiced by council members about the need for sealcoating. However, a representative from Bargen, the crack filling company, emphasized that sealcoating can prolong the life of the streets. The city council members have waited two years to do work on the city streets and now felt it was time to get some of the work done.
All the council members were in favor of doing the crack sealing but councilman Jeff Kisgen voted against the sealcoating. The motion passed and the work will begin in late August and continue into September.
The council members also worked on plans to replace the city clerk and city attorney. It was decided to advertise for the position of city clerk even though they are still not certain about the number of hours to put on the job. Mayor Bruce Malo has been helping to fill in at the office along with Pat Lawson, Hoffman city clerk. He told the council members that he felt the job needed to be at least 36 hours a week.
When asked, Lawson added that she also felt it should be about that much time. She explained that the first two weeks and last week of the month are very busy. The third week is a little slower but that depended on the time of year as budgeting time and audit times can occupy that week. She added that she is half-time in Hoffman but also receives half-time benefits.
When asked how long she could help in Hancock, she stated that she would like to be done as soon as possible but for sure, no later than the end of September.
The council members decided to advertise the position, still unsure about the hours, and perhaps discuss options with the applicants. They will hold a special meeting on Aug. 26 to review the applications.
City Attorney Neil Simonson introduced Assistant County Attorney Carl Thunem and recommended him to finish out Simonson’s contract which goes until the end of the year. Tunheim has been with the county attorney’s office for over a year and has a good reputation. Tunheim explained that the county attorney’s office may be looking at a proposal for each Stevens County city to do the criminal work as needed. They would like to have one office for all criminal matters in the county.
The council approved having Tunheim finish out the year for the city and thanked Simonson for his seven years as the Hancock City Attorney.
* Police Chief Matt Flogstad told the council that he had 54-55 kids attend the bike rodeo and the council members approved $1065 in contributions given toward the rodeo. Flogstad also told the council that the county is working on a weather siren policy that will determine the circumstances needed before blowing the siren. The policy may be governed around the National Weather Service warnings or in excess wind conditions.
* Luke Giese, the new owner of the former Williams Home, asked council about turning on the water in the building. He has paid over $900 in past due water bills that had been added to the property taxes and asked that the remaining $183 be waived. The council agreed to allow him to start out with a zero balance and the water will be turned back on.
* A possible change to the rental ordinance in the city was discussed with the new city attorney. He suggested expanding the ordinance to include terminology about the safety of residents, burden of extra utility use and effect on property values. The changes are not to target any one thing but to address some growing concerns in the city. He will be looking into some policies from other cities.
* The 2014 preliminary budget needs to be completed before Sept. 15. The council members will work on the budget at the special meeting on Aug. 26.
* In good news, Mayor Malo told the council members that Hancock will receive an additional $32,000 in Local Government Aid next year.