Local city council hears from citizen

The Cherokee Development Authority December 9, 2020 meeting was called to order at 6 p.m. Mayor Karen Hawkins led the Pledge of Allegiance and the invocation. Roll call was performed; all members were in attendance. David Collins made a motion to approve the minutes of the November 18, 2020 meeting, and Jeremy Hickman seconded. The minutes were approved.

Claims were presented; Adrienne Wessels made a motion to approve the claims, and Lance Miller seconded. The claims were accepted.

Tracy Reed of RS Meacham presented the November 2020 financial reports. Cash balances and income both increased during November despite the drop in oil and gas activity and the business effects of Covid-19. Expenses were lower than budgeted. Wessels made a motion to accept the report, with Miller seconding; the motion carried.

Bonnie Haworth appeared before the CDA to request the waiver of one month of water and sewer charges for the mobile home currently occupied by Brittany Price. Ms. Price lived in the mobile home previously, then moved to Enid for approximately one year, and now she has returned to Cherokee. The mobile home has developed plumbing issues, and this made it necessary for the water to be turned off for about one month. Ms. Price received a bill from the City of Cherokee for $81.11, even though her water usage for that period of time was zero. Ms. Haworth, acting on behalf of Brittany Price, formally asked for a waiver of that amount. Miller made a motion that one month’s billing be waived; Collins seconded the motion and the motion passed.

City Manager Mike Jones presented the Manager’s Report. The main water meter for the reverse osmosis system has been replaced, and is working properly. Meters at each water well have been calibrated and are working properly.

The mapping of the sewer system to find possible leaks is complete. In many areas, the pipe is made of clay, and the sonar cannot read through that material. Cherokee qualifies for a $5000 grant to flush the lines to clear out any grease that may be impeding the flow of water.

The City Manager was informed this week that the NODA grant to extend the new sewer line to the elementary school has been denied, which will free up $25,000 in Cherokee’s matching funds to other projects.

Wessels made a motion to adjourn, and Miller seconded. The meeting was adjourned at 6:28 p.m.

The Cherokee City Council meeting of December 9, 2020 was called to order at 6:28 p.m. Roll call was performed, and all Council members were in attendance. Wessels made a motion to approve the minutes of the November 18, 2020 meeting, and Collins seconded; the minutes were approved.

The claims list was presented. Collins made a motion that the claims be approved, and Hickman seconded the motion. The claims list was approved.

Reed of RS Meacham presented the results of the November 2020 financial reports. Sales tax revenues are ahead of the budgeted amount; revenues and expenses are keeping in line better than was expected. Ms. Reed commented that it appears that many people are shopping locally due to COVID-19, which would account for our financial situation being better than expected. Wessels made a motion to accept the report, with Miller seconding; the motion carried.

The Council discussed and considered the sale of a parcel of land to Damon Horne. Mr. Horne previously appeared before the council to ask for the deed to the land, reporting that his father had paid $500 cash for the land several years ago. Miller made a motion that we allow Mr. Horne to maintain the parcel for a year; if he is not cited for violation of any city ordinances, the City will sell him the land for $10.00. If Mr. Horne does receive a citation, the agreement will be revoked, and the land will remain City property. Wessels seconded the motion, and the motion was approved.

The Council discussed and considered approval of the 2021 Holiday Schedule. Hickman made a motion to approve the schedule, and Wessels seconded the motion. The schedule was approved.

The Council discussed and considered approval of the 2021 Council Meeting Schedule. Miller made a motion to approve the schedule, and Hickman seconded the motion. The schedule was approved.

The Council discussed and considered approval of Resolution 2020-11 of the Mayor and City Commissioners of the City of Cherokee, Oklahoma, notifying the Secretary of the Alfalfa County Election Board that there will be a non-partisan general election for the election of certain elected officials on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, providing for the dates of the filing period for such general election, the offices to be filled at such general election, and the qualification for office. Miller made a motion to approve the resolution, and Wessels seconded the motion. The motion carried.

The Council discussed and considered a quote of $13,975.00 from Chief Fire & Safety Company for two self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBA’s). Cherokee has received a grant from the Oklahoma CARES plan specifically for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). The items are critical to the safety of first responders, allowing them to breathe safely, without fear of smoke inhalation or exposure to viruses. The old sets are all worn out, and have been indirectly linked to a threat of cancer. Collins made a motion to use the grant money to purchase two SCBA’s; Wessels seconded the motion, and the purchase was approved.

The Council considered convening into Executive Session for the purpose of discussing the employment, hiring, appointment and benefits for the best qualified Librarian candidate. Wessels made a motion to enter Executive Session, Collins seconded the motion, and the Council entered into Executive Session at 6:54 p.m.

Following Executive Session, Wessels made a motion to return to regular session, and Hickman seconded the motion. The Council returned to regular session at 7:03 p.m. Hickman made a motion to take action on the successful Librarian candidate, and Miller seconded the motion. The motion carried, and City Manager Jones will make an announcement regarding the new Librarian after he notifies the unsuccessful candidates that they were not selected.

Jones presented the Manager’s Report. The Pet Clinic will take place on Saturday, January 9, 2021. The City is working to clean curbs and fill in holes; Ohio Street and 10th Street are complete, and the City will be working on Second Street and Twelfth Street.

T.J. Hall has been hired as a Police Officer for the City of Cherokee; he made his first arrest on his first weekend on staff.

The Christmas party for City Employees has been canceled due to COVID-19. The City purchased a ham for all full-time employees; Mayor Hawkins will be delivering the hams and Christmas bonuses on Friday.

Several months ago, City Clerk Amber Wilhite applied for loan forgiveness in the amount of $135,000 for new water meters. Initially, Cherokee was awarded that amount; however, it was later determined that our project did not qualify for the specific funding, which is very discouraging. City Manager Mike Jones is exploring new ways to fund these meters.

A large TV and sound bar have been purchased for the Fire Department training room. Emergency Responder class has begun; classes will be held twice a week until complete. This is an 8-week course presented through the Northwest Technology Center.

City Clerk Wilhite reported that the following licenses/permits were issued in November: one alcoholic beverage license, one building permit, five cemetery permits, three animal permits, and one UTV permit.

Chief of Police Ryan McNeil presented the public safety report for November 2020. The police department responded to or initiated 169 service calls in the month, with 35 criminal violations, collisions and other incidents. Officers made one arrest, investigated four motor vehicle collisions, and took one person into protective custody for mental health evaluation.

One of the new police vehicles is complete and ready for delivery, and two others will be complete by Christmas. Uniforms for T.J. Hall should be done by next week.

Under new business, Miller asked about the sale of the 2008 Ford truck; Mike Jones reported that it has not been sold, and will be part of the upcoming general auction. Mr. Miller also reported that he has received multiple calls regarding feral cats over-running citizens’ properties. Mr. Jones recommended that citizens call City Hall, and they will handle the capture of untagged animals. Citizens should not set their own traps, as the City cannot help with animals caught in private traps.

Wessels made a motion to adjourn, which was seconded by Collins. The motion carried, and the meeting was adjourned at 7:15 p.m.

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