Cougar sighting at golf course; city council deals with code enforcement
Last updated 4/26/2019 at 9:10am
The Harrington City Council met April 10 with Mayor Justin Slack at the helm. City Clerk Bunny Haugan, maintenance man Scott McGowan, council members Peter Davenport, Tim Tipton, Levi Schenk, Nathan Luck and Cherie MacClellan, and the following visitors Jess Silhans, Mark Johnson, Marge Womach and Lauren Stout were present. A brief interesting exchange of information occurred with one addition to the agenda, namely, the sighting of a cougar within the city limits. Several vague possible sightings had piqued curiosity the past week until it became evident that a cougar had been seen on the Harrington Golf and Country Club property. The club house is within the city limits and the course is in the county. The Lincoln County Sheriff’s office and the Dept. of Fish and Game had been notified. Some thought that it might be in a wood pile on the property while others thought it might spring any moment from a tree.
Councilman Davenport asked to have the late former mayor Paul Gilliland’s name added to the agenda for a moment of silence and reflection on his efforts and contributions to the city. Many positive comments of his abilities and intelligence were expressed. Mayor Slack presented his desire to appoint Mike Cronrath to fill the vacancy left by Gilliland’s sudden death. Motion by MacClellan and second by Schenk to appoint Cronrath as interim treasurer passed 5-0.
Long discussion ensued over the potential appointment of an administrative code person as enforcement officer for the city. The position was crafted last year by former mayor Dillon Haas and perimeters were established with a salary of $250 per month through the summer months, May through October. Councilman Davenport challenged the city’s right to hire a party to fill a position whose role to him was not clearly defined since there is no specific job description except what is defined in the city ordinances. Davenport tried to delay any appointment until an exhaustive list of duties and limitations could be written but the council forged ahead with a motion to appoint Jess Silhan as the administrative code officer and a vote of four in favor with one opposed, Davenport requesting his vote be identified. Mayor Slack offered to send a draft of the job description by email during the week. The lack of an enforcement officer has plagued the city for untold years. Employees of the city and citizens alike complain when the city has an ordinance but there is no enforcement.
Many of the Harrington city government positions will be voted upon in 2019. Filing date for office seekers is May 1 if by mail, otherwise it is May 13-17 in person with the Lincoln County Auditor’s office. The TIB update on the street project is that the county agreed to do the work, but we need to get that in writing for the chip seal.
Update on the McGregor building was another lengthy discussion. The committee came back to the Council after having individually contacted them with the outcome of their data collection. There are possible lessees and varying amounts of potential rent. The decision involved lease the building or keep the building for city use. Council went into executive session for 10 minutes, then an added another five minutes. The reason for this executive session was “To consider the minimum price at which real estate will be offered for sale or lease when public knowledge regarding such consideration would cause a likelihood of decreased price. However, final action selling or leasing public property shall be taken in a meeting open to the public.” The meeting was reconvened and a motion to lease the property was made. Davenport made a motion to lease the property and stipulated $1,500 per month minimum rent. Luck seconded the motion. After discussion, the motion failed, with one vote in favor and four against. MacClellan made a motion to lease with a minimum of $1,000 per month rent. Tipton seconded the motion. The vote was four in favor and one dissenting vote. It will be recalled that the city yet owes $5,000 to be paid in November of the purchase of the building.
Mowing season is quickly coming upon the city, and it needs a contract for landscaping maintenance for its parks and cemetery. The contract was presented and several minor changes were recognized. A motion for the mayor to sign the contract with the changes noted passed unanimously.
The Harrington Historic Preservation Commission is a branch of the city government. They are requesting consent to use a portion of their budget to fund a college student internship to document properties in the historic district. A motion was made to allow the Commission $300 out of their existing budget for the internship. The motion passed with all voting in favor except for Luck who abstained due to his position as co-chair of the Commission.
An update on city hall projects included that the city clerk has a new computer which is working well. Shelves are to be built in the basement of city hall by the maintenance crew for the purpose of storing archived records in the basement to create more space for current paperwork on the main level. The city received an encouraging note from the school thanking the city for saving the school about $3,500 on their pool project.
Patterning after Odessa and Davenport council policies, the Harrington City Council is forming committees to work on issues prior to formal meetings, which will enable the council to meet in session with clear and concise goals and save time from exhaustive discussions. Five committees were created with two council members on each committee. The five committees are Luck and Schenk for Public Works/Streets and Building (combined); Davenport and Luck for administrative issues; Tipton and Schenk for Parks (and Recreation) and Cemetery; MacClellan and Davenport for Community Relations and Tipton and MacClellan for Budget issues.
The sign on the Lincoln Hotel has been restored and has been remounted in its former location on the entrance to the lobby of the hotel on Third Street. Details are forthcoming.