Manila City Council approves new firefighters
Manila Fire Chief Jerry Hitchcock addressed the city council at the regular June meeting recommending five men to be added to the fire department. They are Ron Amick, Chris Crook, Brandon Harper, Glen French, and Richard Stafford.
Hitchcock said the appointments would be made on a six month and 12 month probationary period. He explained that the 12 month probationary time will give the new men time to receive the needed training for certification.
"We have some who come in from other fire departments and have their certification," Hitchcock said. "The six month probationary period will give them time to get acquainted and make sure they want to be part of the Manila Fire Department."
Hitchcock said the numbers are down to 18, including Chief of Police Jackie Hill.
"We have a couple of recent retirees and a couple talking about retiring," Hitchcock said. "Adding the five men will put us back to where we were a couple of years ago."
Councilman Dwight Booth made a motion to accept the recommendation of the fire department for the five new firefighters. The motion passed unanimously 5-0.
Chief Hill reported on the city clean-up efforts. He distributed photographs of property showing council members the progress being made at some residences and properties needing attention.
"Progress has been made in the clean-up," Hill said. "Two have been in court and two more are scheduled to appear in court. Judge Langston is working with me on this."
Hill said he is still trying to make progress with owners, some out of state, in the clean-up effort. He named several properties he would be working on.
"If you (council members) see areas needing attention, let me know and I will contact the owners," Hill said.
City council members reviewed bids on flooring repair for the Shelton home on East Olympia. Damage was sustained due to a sewer problem.
"I'm here to pass on the will of the council," Mayor Clifford Veach said.
Booth made the motion to accept the lowest bid of $2,800, seconded by Councilman Gaylon Gammill. Four council members voted to accept the bid with Councilman Dean Cherry abstaining.
Kevin Jolliff spoke to the city council members about damage to his pick-up truck. Jolliff said he had damage to the side of his truck from debris thrown from a lawnmower mowing at the Herman Davis park area. Jolliff said he had given the Mayor three estimates but the shop with the lowest bid has gone out of business. The bids included $741, $872, and $1,044.
Mayor Veach said he talked to the employee and he said he did not do it.
"I have two reasons saying he did it," Jolliff said. "I pulled into my mother's driveway and he saw me looking at the truck. When I went back he apologized."
Several council members went outside to look at the truck. Following discussion, no action was taken. The council did request Jolliff get a third estimate.
City Attorney Wayne Wagner updated the council on annexation progress. He suggested leaving the matter of annexation at the first reading until after the election to avoid voter confusion.
"As long as we have it done by Jan. 1, we are okay," Wagner said.
The largest voting precinct in Manila is 21B and the annexation will make it even larger. It was suggested after the annexation, city officials look into equalizing the districts by population.
Mayor Veach reported he is still waiting on the airport lighting grant pre-construction conference which should take place before the next meeting.
Veach also said the city is still looking at other health insurance providers for employees.
"We do not have a concrete figure yet," Veach said. "We can continue our coverage as is until we can find a less expensive plan."
Following a discussion and review of bids, Council voted to purchase a 52-inch cut "Bad Boy" mower at a cost of $6,200. Henry Ford, director of public works, made the recommendation.
Mayor Veach discussed park issues informing the council that repairs have been made and additional playground equipment will be added.
Wagner, who works with the park commissioners, spoke on future plans.
"We have been trying to make improvements that will stay with us for a long time," Wagner said. "We need one more tee-ball field. We are looking at the possibility of taking the parking lot area where the old swimming pool was and making tee-ball field there."
He explained that would keep all of the ball fields together in the same area of the concession. It would allow people to watch the younger and older children play. The parking lot would be moved to the rear of Fields 2 and 3. A discussion has been made about adding picnic tables inside the ballpark area.
"Some nights we have 300 to 400 people out there," Wagner said. "If anyone has any suggestions on improvements they can let us know. By August I would like to come up with a master plan. I am meeting with the coaches to get input. If we all work together we can have a better facility to meet the needs of everyone."
Park committee members are Wagner, Tracy Reinhart, Darrell Birmingham, Jr. Wise, Terry Carr and Dan Gamble.
"It is looking good to me," Mayor Veach said. "I have not heard any complains. The boys out there may hear more complaints than I do but I think everyone is trying to work together. I am proud of our park."
Mayor Veach said the city has had a good year financially and made a recommendation to give city employees a bonus. Veach suggested $1,800 for department heads; $1,500 for full time employees; and six percent for part-time employees.
"I think if the city is doing well we need to share it with our employees doing a good job," Councilman Larry Davis said.
The council voted unanimously to give employees the recommended bonuses.
Mayor Veach reviewed the budget and requested council approve additional payments on the water and sewer projects.
"This is money we received before we started making payments," Veach explained.
He suggested a prepay of $90,000 on the water loan and $80,000 on the sewer loan.
Councilman Leroy Douglas said it sounded like a good idea and made the motion to make the payments. The motion passed unanimously.
Mayor Veach said he has not received any word on the fire station grant the city has applied for.
"I know they are reviewing applications," Veach said. "I anticipate the grant will be approved."
Veach announced he was notified Friday that a state auditor will be in Manila on Wednesday doing the 2005 audit.
"Over the weekend the decorative lights near SouthBank and the old nursing center were vandalized," Veach said. Benny Bennett has the globes and lights put back. Two arrests were made and there could be more. We need to be on the lookout."
A short executive meeting was held to discuss personnel matters. No action was taken and the council adjourned.
Manila Council meets at 6:30 p.m. the third Monday of each month at city hall.