Council hears from county officials
By TRISHA PHELPS
Mt. Pleasant News
WINFIELD — The Winfield City Council was busy during its council meeting last night.
Council members had two public hearings, one on the 2015 budget and the other on the demolition project at 101 North Locust Street; a cemetery update; presentations from Henry County Attorney Darrin Stater and Henry County Sheriff Rich McNamee; mowing bids; discussion on usage of the Veteran’s Building; and discussion on donating money to different entities.
Stater touched on how well his office was doing at staying under budget.
“I just got my budget approved and we are within $700 of last year,” said Stater. “Things are starting to cost more. We are still under $500,000 for my budget, which is still $23,000 to $24,000 less than when I took over eight years ago. We have kept things under $500,000 the last eight years. I would like to hit 10 years at under $500,000, that’s my goal.”
McNamee also updated the council on the successes and goals of his office. One of the more notable success stories in Winfield regarding the sheriff’s office was a recent drug bust.
“We have had a couple of success stories here, but one that I would like to draw your attention to was across the street from the school we had a drug bust there,” said McNamee. “That bust is just the beginning of what we have going on (in Winfield). We are getting some good results. We work with (Winfield Chief of Police) Jeff Dietrich and we communicate with him a lot. We work with him and Dean (Walter) a lot to make your community safer.”
One way the Winfield Police Department and the Henry County Sheriff’s Office work together to make Winfield safe is the drug drop-off that is held twice a year.
“We have done this drug drop-off twice before, April and October last year and Jeff was very successful,” said McNamee. “We are doing another drug drop-off on April 26 this year with a drop-off location right here (at Winfield City Hall).”
Another point McNamee highlighted during his presentation was the amount of calls the sheriff’s office responded to in Winfield.
According to McNamee, in 2013 there were 125 calls for the Winfield Fire and Rescue Department that came through the sheriff’s office. Four hundred thirty nine calls came through the sheriff’s office that were handled by the Winfield Police Department, 279 calls the Winfield Police Department handled with sheriff’s office assistance. The sheriff’s department handled 160 calls in Winfield and there was and average of 14.535 hours of patrol time each month in Winfield.
The sheriff’s office also now has a text-a-tip line for people to send an anonymous tip to the department. The number for this texting line is 319-931-3667.
McNamee also noted that the current Henry County Jail has only eight beds, but has an average inmate population of 20-22 inmates per day.
“Our jail population hit an all time high in January with 39 inmates,” said McNamee. “We only have eight beds though. My predecessor requested a new jail twice and both times it failed by a very small margin. He was a smart man and he knew we needed it. So we are going to re-explore that issue in the near future.
“We are going to explore using a slightly different avenue this time though,” continued McNamee. “We are going to explore it this time as an expansion to our current jail. We want to be using your tax dollars to keep public safety at its very best. The expansion probably wouldn’t have 39 beds because we don’t have 39 inmates everyday. Our average is between 20 and 22 per day. Last week at this time we had 26. We would probably look at 30 beds. We are doing a study with the crime commission and they are going to complete the study for us and tell us what we need.”
The demolition of the Doulas Building, located at 101 North Locust Street, was awarded to Lansing Brothers Construction Co. Inc. with a bid price not to exceed $44,620.
The bid includes Structure removal, white goods (appliances), electronic waste, removal and disposal of household hazardous waste, utilities disconnect, clean fill dirt, demolition and removal of concrete/asphalt and other assorted materials as well as basements.
The council awarded a three-year mowing contract to Ryan and Molly Buffington. Hedge Above LLC also submitted a bid, however there was a significant price difference between the two bids. Hedge Above quoted the city at $280 per mowing for the first year and $300 per mowing for the second and third years. Ryan and Molly Buffington’s bid was for $250 per mowing for the first two years and $255 per mowing for the third year.
“It’s an easy decision,” remarked councilmember Ryan Kinneberg.
Patti Gerling gave the council an update on the city’s cemetery, noting that the iron gate is in need of improvements or replacement. The possibility was raised but no action was taken on replacing the rod iron fence with a vinyl fence.
The council also:
• Agreed to donate $150 to the Winfield-Mt. Union after-prom committee.
• Declined a donation request to help send Sunrise Terrace caregivers to a conference.
• Determined that contracts for usage of the Veteran’s Building should be kept at City Hall with a copy going to the commission.
The next Winfield City Council meeting will be April 14 at 7 p.m. in City Hall.