Leachville council votes to move forward with wastewater project
Leachville City Council worked through a long agenda at the regular March 19 meeting. It was standing room only in the board room as council discussed a proposed wastewater project. Among other topics, the council accepted the old Leachville High School gymnasium from the Buffalo Island Central School District, discussed the Melody Theater, and re-established a privilege license for city businesses.
Mayor Rodney Robertson introduced Wayne Menley with Miller-Newell Engineers who presented updates from the February meeting. Menley said the city has been approved for a USDA 100 percent loan for the $1,650,000 sewer/wastewater project.
His company has been working on the project for many years. He reviewed the letter of conditions and terms of agreement. He said the city would need to have a debt reserve which would amount to one year of payments.
The loan payments of $5,160 a month are based on average use of 4,100 gallons of the 788 users on the system.
Menley gave the council two examples of rate increases. He said it is recommended the rate increase take the revenue to at least 10 percent above the monthly expenses. The amount to increase did not have to be approved at the March meeting. Once the council decides on the rate increase the information will go back to USDA for approval.
Mayor Robertson said he had talked to First Missouri Bank and the city can get a loan at 2.75 percent. He explained the loan is like a construction loan, once the project is completed the bank will be paid off.
Councilman Keith Evans asked if the city knew if residents in the newly annexed area would hook up if the project is done.
Mayor Robertson said there is a mandatory hookup clause if it is available and reasonable.
Menley said it would be up to the city to enforce the ordinance or not. He said residents would only be responsible to connect from their house to the grinder station if they hook on while work is being done. If they wait, it will cost more. Each grinder station costs $6,400. Menley said they will not be installed for residents who do not hook up.
Expanding the sewer system out to the highway is only a small part of the overall project. Once the project is completed the city will basically have a new system to benefit all citizens.
Robert Ballard, water and sewer superintendent, said if the plant goes down, the city can be fined anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 a day.
“You don't want that to happen,” Menley said.
“This has been going on for a while,” Mayor Robertson said.
Menley said his company had been working with the city since 2001.
Councilman Paul Wildy made a motion, which passed unanimously, to proceed with the project.
Buffalo Island Central Superintendent Gaylon Taylor and Lisa Turner were present to talk about the old Leachville High School gymnasium.
Superintendent Taylor said the board had decided several years ago to donate the gymnasium to the city if they would accept it. He said then mayor, Ralph Well, was going to form a committee and report back to the school board with plans.
“Our plans are to give it to the city of Leachville unless you tell us different,” Taylor said.
He went on to say if it is boarded up and utilities turned off, the building will go down.
Taylor said he had never considered tearing it down.
“There are too many memories in the gym,” he said. “There are not too many places around here where Elvis played. It belongs to the city if you want it.”
A discussion was held on utility cost, insurance, parking, etc.
Ms. Turner spoke on behalf of a newly formed committee to preserve and use the gymnasium for Leachville.
“We have a committee formed and we want to keep the gymnasium,” she said. “We know the heaters have to be addressed first. There are four locker rooms and seven bathrooms. Some of the uses we have discussed include walking track, exercise room, health club, batting cages, or musuem. People are passionate about this. It is all we have left of Leachville School. We want to keep the legacy of Leachville alive. We know it all comes with a cost. I was in the last class of Leachville High School. Thank you for listening and we hope you will help us. We have 15 on the committee and welcome more.”
Superintendent Taylor said Bay and Pocahontas have had the ceilings dropped in their old gymnasiums which would help with utilities.
The first decision by the council was to table the acceptance of the gymnasium until they could gather more information, but on further discussion Councilwoman Ethel Hetler rescinded her motion to table it. The council voted unanimously to accept the gymnasium.
Rep. Johnny Rye was present and commented the council/committee members should look at any grants available from the Department of Agriculture.
Superintendent Taylor thanked the council for their efforts at the Melody Theater, where BIC will be presenting a production. Taylor said the stage curtains in the cafeteria will be given to the theater.
Fire Chief Drake Brown informed the council he had submitted grant papers for the radio system for the fire and police departments. The total cost is $27,000 and if the city receives the grant, it should pay half the cost.
“We should know in May,” Brown said. “We also want to thank the Methodist Church for the donation of water. We appreciate it.”
The next topic of discussion was the rental fee and management of the Melody Theater.
Mayor Robertson said Moba Lee Miller had been running it for 20 years.
It was decided to leave the rental fee at $100. All of the concession money will be turned into the city and go into the Melody Theater Fund, along with the rental fees. It will be up to the person/group renting the theater if tickets are sold or a love offering is received. The ticket/love offering money will go to them.
Councilman Evans said, and the council agreed, the rental fee would be waived for school dramas, etc.
“I think it was run fine in the past,” Councilman Wildy said.
Ms. Miller told the council the original board was chosen by Marie Kennett. She said Mrs. Kennett was instrumental in getting the theater up and running. She asked six people from Leachville and six people from Monette to be on the board.
“We cleaned it, we worked it, we did everything there was to do,” Ms. Miller said. “Many times Jack (Miller) and Jim Qualls took out of their pockets to make up to give performers gas money.”
Presently on the board are Brandon Snider, Mark and Becky Thrasher and Ms. Miller. She said there are also volunteers who work the concession stand and the sound system.
“No one gets paid,” Ms. Miller said. "We are all volunteers."
“The theater is good for the city,” Mark Thrasher said. “My dad has spent his own money on advertising to let people know about our shows. Some nights he did not get $100 or even $50 but he did it for our city.”
City treasurer Ruth Ann Keith said the auditors need an accounting because the property belongs to the city. She said if money is raised they want to know where it goes.
It was agreed the money will go to the city to be placed in the Melody Theater account.
Councilman Wildy made a motion, which passed unanimously, to leave the Theater Committee the same with the addition of Mayor Robertson.
Councilwoman Lisa Baldridge said it takes a lot of work to keep the theater going, the ball park going, the Harvest Festival going. She said she appreciates all of the volunteers and encouraged others to step forward and held with all community projects.
The council discussed re-instating a privilege license.
“It is not to make money for the city, but it will help us know how many businesses we have in the city,” Keith said. “I often get calls or have to fill out forms asking how many business we have in Leachville. Also, some workers need to have a license from their own town when they go to other towns to work."
It was decided to re-instate the privilege license at a fee of $25 across the board. The vote was 5-1 with Councilman Evans casting the no vote.
Keith said an ordinance will need to be written to re-instate the privilege license.
In other business:
*The Easter Egg Hunt at Adams Estate will be held at 10 a.m. March 31. Mayor Robertson said they could use volunteers to help gather the food at the gate.
*The cemetery clean up will be held May 19. Baldridge said all volunteers are welcome.
*Baldridge announced a spaghetti supper fundraiser to benefit the Harvest Festival on March 26 at the Community Center.
*A short discussion was held on trash pick up. One week the city did not pick up cardboard boxes but then the cardboard was put in sacks which did not accomplish anything. Superintendent Ballard said it was not so much cardboard but old vacuum cleaners and furniture. Mayor Robertson said they will monitor the cost to the city.
*The city clean up will be held the last week in April.
*Mayor Robertson said the doctor will be in the Leachville office on Tuesdays and Fridays and will have sick call every day.
*Councilman Teresa Johnson asked if any resumes for the police department had been submitted. Mayor Robertson said he had received one earlier in the day.
*During the citizen comment time, Bob Crites asked about who to contact about unsightly property. He was told there is an ordinance in place and the city can give citations for violations.
*A citizen asked about looking into having magic shows, animals shows, etc. at the Melody Theater, especially during the summer for kids to enjoy.
*Rep. Rye talked about a bill that had been passed to help local pharmacists receive fair reimbursement.
*City Clerk/Treasurer Keith gave the financial report with total funds in the General Fund of $136,309.88; Street Fund $87,902.09; Melody Theater total fund $30,935.61 (Reburbish balance $21,740.91 and Theater Fund $9,740.91); Employee Savings $8,964.65; Fire Protection Fund $14,992.58; Act 833 Fund,$13,376.71; Court Automation Fund, $6,232.45; Certificates of Deposit: Street Fund, $5,674.23; Cemetery Fund, $5,355.23; Fire Protection Fund, $10,377.85; Leachville Volunteer Fire Department Discretionary Fund, $1,858.81; Leachville Festival Fund, $9,340.17; Meter Deposit Account, $13,525.95; Water Tower Debt Reserve Account, $29,552.89; Water and Sewer Revenue, $69,761.06; Ooeration and Maintenance Account, $7,029.25.