By Marj Oleske
The City Council meeting held Wednesday, April 17, held a standing room only audience for an evening of commendation, compensation and condemnation.
Beginning with an executive session for discussing personnel issues, the council emerged with plans for changes to the city personnel manual. The council adopted a change to the manual which allows disciplinary measures to be taken by an immediate supervisor. The new resolution will be published, with the new manual available for public viewing.
Martin’s Chief of Police Julio Medeiros addressed the council, with high praise for both the City Police Department and the Bennett County Sheriff’s Department for several recent actions. Assistant Chief Richard Cummings and Officer Charles Hunter were presented awards for their actions in a homicide investigation. Officer Hunter was commended for his handling of a burglary and grand theft investigation. Working together on a nationally publicized case, and receiving awards for their honorable actions in the apprehension of a subject in a child kidnapping case from Pennsylvania were Assistant Chief Cummings, Officer Hunter, Officer William Saunders, Transport Officer Richard Cummings Sr., Chief Deputy Thomas Jeans, Deputy Nate Eisenmenger and Bennett County Emergency Management Director Jeff Siscoe. The officers received a heartfelt round of applause from the council and audience members.
In other law related business, the council was informed by Chief Medeiros that Officer Hunter has completed his South Dakota Law Enforcement Reciprocity Training and is now a South Dakota Certified Officer. This will qualify him for the standard pay raise of $2.00 per hour.
Joining the force as the newest member of the Martin Police Department is Mr. Charles Bortz. His starting date was April 18.
Chief Medeiros updated the council on the awards of grant monies for the Martin Police Department, and the planned uses for the funds.
The State of the Department report read to the council by Chief Medeiros also included the results of a wellbeing check requested at a Martin residence. According to the written report, “On April 1, 2013, Martin Officers were called to 303 Swallow Street for a wellbeing check of children. The residence was immediately declared a health and safety hazard, quarantined and temporarily condemned due to large amounts of fecal matter discovered throughout the living quarters and a large amount of raw sewage in the basement. Chief Medeiros and officers remained on scene for several hours on April 1, and again on April 2, assisting persons in clearing the residence. Chief Medeiros contacted Mayor Gayle Kocer, PA Diane Weber (City Health Inspector), Bennett County Emergency Manager Jeff Siscoe, City Foreman Paul Noel and City Attorney Kyle Weise about the dire situation. Approximately 7,000 gallons of sewage was pumped from the basement over the ensuing days. It was discovered that the city water had been shut off approximately three weeks earlier due to nonpayment of water bills, and that people not under the lease moved into the residence. The State Department of Health, State Department from Environment and Natural Resources were notified and recommended contacting our city attorney. Chief Medeiros has forwarded this case to the Bennett County State’s Attorney’s Office as a potential criminal investigation and is requesting an immediate clean-up of the interior of the residence and permanent condemning of the residential structure by the city council.”
The council was in agreement of declaring the property a public nuisance.
Another structure at 101 Pugh Street has been reported to have homeless people in the trailer, which was found by Assistant Chief Cummings to be in total disrepair. Finance Manager Jean Kirk advised the council that the trailer is scheduled to be moved out of the city.
Following suit with words of thanks, Council member Gregg Claussen gave his appreciation to Street Manager Paul Noel and the city crew for their tremendous efforts in clearing the streets during the recent heavy snowfalls.
Butch Ceplecha approached the Council with the request for opening the public restrooms at the golf course for the upcoming High School Golf Tournament. Also visiting with the Council concerning the golf course was Tracee Livermont. She will plan to meet with Council members Gregg Claussen, Shirley McCue and Stephanie Noel about food services available at the golf course through the summer months.
It is also that time of year to be preparing for summer activity at the swimming pool. The City will be advertising for a pool manager and lifeguards.
Discussion was held about the long term plan for updating the water system. The services of Ron Banks, of Advanced Engineering, will be sought, since he has worked on Martin’s city projects in the past, and has knowledge of the work to be done.
Councilman Claussen would also like to enlist the services of Ron Banks to check out easement details on outlying property for water and sewer services. He informed the council that the property in question was annexed into the city limits approximately 25 years ago. “It has already been platted, but a lot can’t be sold because it can’t be serviced. Nobody can afford the land without the services. The easement must be done in order to plan for services.” The council voted in favor of having Banks look at it.
The council canvassed the votes from the recent election, and the official mayoral election was won by David Bakley, 74 to 68, over incumbent Mayor Gayle Kocer. The council was approached by Roseanna Renaud, who presented the following. “I have commended the Martin City Council for its devotion and commitment to the community on many occasions. Today, I have something important to ask of you. When considering whether to hold a municipal election during extreme weather conditions, please think about this. A blizzard is a physical barrier for senior and handicapped citizens, preventing them from exercising their right to vote on Election Day. Their voices should be heard, too.”
The next regular meeting of the City Council will be held on Wednesday, May 8, at 5:30 in the Library Meeting Room.
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