Local city council holds meetings

Mayor Karen Hawkins called to order the Cherokee Development Authority meeting at 6 p.m., November 18. Following the Pledge of Allegiance and an invocation led by Jeremy Hickman, City Clerk Amber Wilhite called the roll. All five Cherokee Development Authority members answered the roll.

The Authority considered the approval of the minutes from the October 28 meeting; David Collins moved for approval, and Hickman seconded. The minutes were approved.

Following review of the claims list, Adrienne Wessels made a motion to accept the list, and Collins seconded the motion. The motion carried.

R.S. Meacham CPA presented the financial report from October. Revenues continue to come in above budget, and expenses are lower than budgeted, putting the CDA in a good financial situation. Wessels moved for approval of the report, and Lance Miller seconded the motion. The October financial report was approved.

The Authority discussed Resolution 2020-009, a resolution of the Mayor and City Commissioners of the City of Cherokee, Oklahoma, to execute authorizing OMAG to distribute escrow account funds to the City of Cherokee. Wilhite stated that there is $8,795.00 being held by OMAG from the 2017-2018 loss fund; since we did not use the money, Wilhite recommended leaving the money in the fund and allowing it to grow. Miller made a motion to approve the resolution, and Collins seconded the motion. The resolution was approved.

Mike Jones presented the Manager’s Report. He has received the Draft Master Water Plan from Guernsey; it is 171 pages long, and he is going over it line by line to be sure it is what we need.

The main water meter for the Reverse Osmosis plant is inoperable. This meter is critical to the proper operation of the plant. A new meter will be installed on November 19 with a total cost of $5,365.33. Meters at each water well are being calibrated; this work will be complete by December 3, 2020.

The Lagoon Generator has been ordered. Due to more critical needs following the hurricanes in the Gulf Coast, it may take from 10-12 weeks to receive the generator.

The City of Cherokee received a Notice of Violation from the Department of Environmental Quality. We usually discharge water into the Lagoon on the second Tuesday of each month, at which time we submit a Discharge Monitoring Report as required. In July, we did not discharge water on the scheduled date, and no report was submitted. Mr. Jones is working with City employees to ensure that this error does not occur again.

There was no new business to be discussed. Wessels moved to adjourn the meeting, and Miller seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at approximately 6:13 p.m.

The Cherokee City Council meeting on November 18, 2020 was called to order at 6:13 p.m. All Council members answered the roll.

The Council considered the approval of the minutes from the October 14 Grant Match Public Hearing meeting; Wessels moved for approval, and Collins seconded. The minutes were approved.

The Council considered the approval of the minutes from the October 28 regular meeting. Wessels made a motion to approve, and Collins seconded the motion. The motion carried.

Following review of the claims list, Wessels made a motion to accept the list, and Hickman seconded the motion. The motion carried.

R.S. Meacham CPA presented the financial report from October. We continue to take in more revenue than expected, and expenses are lower than projected, which gives us a great start to this fiscal year. Fuel sales at the airport has been much better than expected, and Use Tax totals (for online purchases) are markedly higher, in part due to COVID-19. Wessels moved for approval of the report, and Collins seconded the motion. The October financial report was approved.

The Council discussed and considered approval of Resolution 2020-009, of the Mayor and City Commissioners of the City of Cherokee, Oklahoma, to execute authorizing OMAG to distribute escrow account funds to the City of Cherokee. This is the same resolution that was discussed in the Cherokee Development Authority meeting earlier this evening. Miller made a motion to approve the resolution, and Wessels seconded the motion. The resolution was approved.

Jones stated that someone is interested in purchasing the 2008 Ford Truck belonging to the city. Plans have been in motion to declare the truck surplus and to sell it when the City sells the used police vehicles. Miller made a motion to declare the truck surplus at this time and open the sale for bids. Wessels seconded the motion. The truck will be declared surplus and sold.

The Council discussed and considered approval of Ordinance No. 2020-008, an ordinance of the City Council of the City of Cherokee, Oklahoma, repealing Chapter 4, Section 4-200A of the Cherokee Municipal Code 2020 limiting the number of dogs and cats permitted per household in the City Limits, and declaring an emergency. This change stems from the request made by Jones at the October 24 meeting, asking the City to change the limit of domestic pets per household. At that time, the Council voted to make an exception for Ms. Jones, and to put this change on the next Council Agenda. Hickman made a motion to approve the revised Ordinance, and Miller seconded the motion. The motion passed. The Council then considered declaring this Ordinance an emergency. Miller made the motion, and Collins seconded the motion. The declaration of emergency was approved.

The Council discussed and considered approval of Resolution 2020-010 of the Mayor and City Commissioners of the City of Cherokee, Oklahoma, concerning airport fencing, specifically an amendment, Amendment No. 3 to the Owner-Engineer Agreement between the City of Cherokee and CEC Corporation regarding airport improvement, in which said amendment specifies the installation of perimeter fencing and gates as per AIP-3-40-0016-012-2021. We currently have an FAA 90/10 grant for this project, and we are hoping to receive a 100% grant next year. If we do not build this fence, we will lose the current grant, and we will not be eligible for next year’s grant. The FAA requires the fence for security and safety reasons. Miller made a motion to give the fence the go-ahead, and Hickman seconded the motion. Collins voted no on the motion because of concerns over the engineering costs; all other Council members voted yes, and the motion carried.

The Council considered and discussed City Property, Parcel ID #0180-00-061-003-0-000-00. Damon Horne spoke at the October 24 meeting, stating that his father told him he had paid $500.00 cash for this specific parcel of land, but he had never received the title. City Manager Jones has researched this issue, and can find no record of cash being received or deposited in any city account. Since there is no record, Mr. Jones recommended that we include this parcel in an upcoming land sale. This issue died for lack of a motion.

The Council considered convening into Executive Session for the purpose of discussing the employment, hiring, appointment and benefits for the best qualified police office applicant, and the possibility of a shared employee with the City of Alva. This Executive Session is permitted by (25 O.S. 307 (B) (1)). Collins made a motion to convene into Executive Session, and Wessels seconded the motion. The Council convened into Executive Session at 6:48 p.m.

Following Executive Session, Wessels made a motion to return to Regular Session, and Collins seconded the motion. The Council returned to Regular Session at 6:58 p.m. The Council considered taking action on items discussed in Executive Session. Wessels made a motion to hire the most qualified candidate for the police officer position, and Collins seconded the motion. The motion passed, and Mike Jones will move forward with the background check. The Council took no action on the shared employee with the City Council.

City Manager Jones presented the Manager’s Report. Mr. Jones presented a plan from FES LLC, a non-profit from Nebraska, to build and maintain a website for the City of Cherokee. He stressed that it will be nearly impossible to attract new businesses and families to Cherokee without this website. This will cost $350.00 to set up and $2,500.00 per year to maintain, which is considerably lower than plans used by other cities our size. The website will allow instant access to all City Ordinances, forms, and departments. Mr. Jones cited two other city websites as great examples of the work done by FES LLC: https://www.crete.ne.gov and https://www.cityoflakequivera.org.

We have tentatively scheduled an animal rabies clinic on December 5. Dr. Erica League of League Mobile Veterinary Services will bring her mobile clinic to Cherokee and will offer rabies shots or a full pet wellness check. The city will pay Dr. League $300.00 for the service, and there will be minimal costs for each pet; those amounts have not yet been determined. We are working with a local restaurant to offer hot dog incentives for participants (pet owners, not the dogs and cats).

The Watch Dog Committee met on November 18 and approved recommendations from the City Council. We are planning to post a banner to raise private funds to complete the pocket park. Initial outlay for the foundation and drainage will be approximately $135,000.00.

Mr. Jones reported that the Open Meetings Exemption that allowed Council to meet and vote via teleconference or video-conference expired Sunday, November 15, 2020.

Mowing season is over, and street crews have been working on storm water drainage issues. Two residences, 700 S. Oklahoma and 115 W. 7th Street, are on the same water meter. One resident requested that this issue be addressed. Since this situation was the fault of the City, we are running a new water line and installing a second water meter at no cost to the homeowners. This project should conclude on November 19.

Interviews have been conducted for the Police Officer position; we hope to finish the hiring process this week. The Librarian job announcement has been posted.

During Mr. Jones’ last contact with Librarian Seneca West, Ms. West picked out a color scheme for a new awning for the library. This new awning was ordered for a cost of $4,290. Mr. Jones has applied for a grant that would cover $500 of the price of the new awning. If the grant is awarded, the total cost for the City will be $3,790.00.

The Fire Department is researching options to add audio and visual technology to the FD training room to support future training. This training room is also available to local law enforcement.

City Clerk Wilhite reported the sale of two peddler’s licenses, one dispensary license, three building permits, five animal permits and one UTV permit during October.

Ryan McNeil presented the monthly Public Safety Report. During October, the Police Department responded to or initiated 138 service calls. There were 35 criminal violations, collisions and other incidents, resulting in 31 reports being generated for various drug, theft, and abuse violations. Officers made five arrests.

During October, the police department made five traffic stops and investigated two ordinance violations, issuing 3 municipal citations and four verbal warnings, bringing in $730.00 through citations and court fees.

Jones stated that the Cherokee Police Department has received a Certification of Compliance with the mandatory standards for safe policing as described in the Presidential Executive Order No. 13929 (the “Executive Order on Safe Policing” dated June 16, 2020). This honor makes the Cherokee Police Department eligible for Department of Justice grant funding for a full three years. We are proud of this Certification.

Under new business, Hickman stated that West did a wonderful job making the City/County Library a great place to go, and that we will miss her. Jones added that planning is underway to have some type of memorial to Ms. West.

Hickman made a motion to adjourn, and Miller seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at 7:25 p.m.

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