Town Crier News Staff
Manila Mayor Clifford Veach started his state-of-the-city address Monday evening, Feb. 19, by saying the city is in "beautiful shape."
Mayor Veach commented on several improvements as well as the need to get serious about property clean-up.
Starting with the Parks and Recreation, Veach said more improvements are being made every year and there will be more coming.
"This (parks and recreation improvement) is a primary thing for our young people," Veach said. "Hopefully, we will see the new fire station project finished this year."
Veach had reported earlier in the meeting the fire station plans had been finalized.
"Last year we extended the taxiway at the Manila Municipal Airport," Veach said. "Currently we are working on new lights. We are looking at getting painting done."
The projects at the airport are financed through Federal Funding grants.
Manila will continue the weather radio project through this season.
Citizens had the opportunity to purchase one of two styles of weather radios last year at a low reduced price through the city in an effort to safeguard residents during the tornado season.
"I encourage the citizens to take advantage of the weather radios," Veach said. "It could save lives."
Veach commented on the annexation making Manila a little larger toward the West. He also said the city is doing well financially.
Veach expressed his concern on the lack of property clean-up in the city.
"Every year we are going to really tear it up and every year we still have unsightly property," Veach said. "We may need a citizen's committee to work with us. The council could appoint a group to work with us and Chief Jackie Hill on clean-up. There is no sense in us continuing to tolerate this. If it is a hardship case we will help but if there is no hardship, they can clean up their property.
Councilmen Larry Whiz Davis and Dwight Booth both commented favorably to Mayor Veach's suggestion on involving more people.
"I think who we appoint may have a problem," Councilman Dean Cherry said.
Veach said the committee can help come up with a list of places needing to be addressed and report those to Chief Hill and the Council for action.
Veach said if there were no objections from the council he would interview some Manila community members and have a group at the next meeting.
Following a short executive session, the council voted unanimously to hire James Skinner as full time officer with the Manila Police Department effective Feb. 16.
Chief Hill expressed his appreciation to the council.
"I think we have picked a good person for the job," Chief Hill said.
Chief Hill told the council the police department has gone on 12 hours shifts. The schedule will allow officers to have every other weekend off.
"I think it will relieve the stress and be good for the officers," Hill said. "We started the 12 hour shifts on a trial bases and so far the guys are happy with it."
Veach said if there are any problems with the shift changes it can be discussed at next month's meeting.
Mayor Veach asked the council to approve a $50 a month telephone allowance for public works supervisor Henry Ford and Chief Hill. The motion passed unanimously.
Mayor Veach told the council the Firemen's Pension Board met and they agreed to put their money in an investment account.
"This is something I've advocated ever since I've been in office," Veach said. "The council has to approve a resolution for them to go forward. This is what they want to do and it is their money."
Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution allowing the city's firefighters to put their pension money into a professional pension account with Merrell Lynch.
After a discussion, council voted unanimously to approve a zoning variance request by David Bunch. The motion was made under the condition the neighbors on either side of the property agreed to allow the building to be constructed.
Mayor Veach said Jeremy Bennett, president of the Kiwanis's Club, had talked about the organization adopting the Community Center.
"I think it is a good idea," Veach said.
Veach also mentioned the high cost of the election last year.
"I don't think it was our fault," Veach said. "We did have the run-off this year. I think next election we would need only minimum staff for early voting."
Veach said the city is having problems with the aeriation equipment with the new sewer expansion completed two years ago.
"Standards have to be met," Veach said. "We have had problems since the word go. We have a paper trail all the way back. We have been talking to the subcontractor and we have started talking to the general contractor. I wanted to make you aware of what was going on in case legal action becomes necessary."