The Cherokee City Council approved a request for an electronic message sign, about 3 1/2 feet by 10 feet at the Country Store (Shell Station, formerly Swains) at 820 South Second Street in Cherokee.
Todd Kanne, of Community Oil Co. based in Carroll was at the council meeting Tuesday to discuss the details of the project and building inspector Kent Wenck was present at the meeting to inform the council about prior approval by the planning and zoning commission and the board of adjustment.
Kanne said the sign would display date, time and temperature, messages promoting the business and an occasional message about an event by a non-profit organization, free of charge.
Dwight Varce, council member, noted that a sign at the intersection of Bluff Street and North Second advertises events for a fee as a fund raising project and an electronic sign at HyVee Drug Store also advertises events for a fee. Varce was concerned about the free advertisement of events by non-profit organizations conflicting with the fund raising messages.
Kanne said that if there is any problem, the sign would not show these messages.
Wenck said both the planning and zoning commission and board of adjustment recommended approval of the sign application.
Rick Angell of Rick Angell Insurance Agency in Cherokee and Don Faber of Three Rivers Benefit Corporation in Sioux City, both had good news for the city council.
The annual increase of health insurance premiums as of July 1 will be 2.68 percent, an amount far below either what the past premium increases have been or what the average current increase is nationwide.
This is largely the result of claims during the last year dropping from the previous year.
The city provides a health insurance plan for its employees with a $2,000 single and a $4,000 family deductible and self insures this down to a $500 single and $1,000 family deductible. This is administered through Three Rivers,
With the premium savings of the higher deductible, minus the administration fee from Three Rivers, the city has about $78,000 to pay deductibles and office visit charges. Last year, the city saved over $30,000.
Faber said that so far this fiscal year, which ends on June 30, there has only been about $15,000 paid out of the self-insurance fund with no anticipated major expenses for the remainder of the fiscal year.
On a four to one vote, the city council voted to forgive the sewer portion of the water/sewer bill at 120 Colony Drive. The toilet was running while the resident was out of time.
This has been a traditional practice when a larger than normal amount is on a water bill because of some structural or mechanical problem.
As Varce has done in the past, he voted against forgiving the sewer portion of the bill, taking the position that it isn't the city's responsibility.
The city council took no action on a request by Ben Wells that the city forgive an $11,000 lien on a property at 312 South Second Street where the city had demolished a building that was a public nuisance.
Wells owns an adjoining property and would like to obtain the lot. He said he would be willing to pay the delinquent property tax, about $870 now, but nobody would pay the $11,000 lien.
It was the thinking of the council members that the city would eventually get title to the property after the county goes through the process of an unsuccessful tax sale and that the city can sell the property to the highest bidder at that time.
The city took no action on a request that it sell property it owns along River Road. Mark Braunschweig is considering the property for business purposes.
The city wants to determine how serious the purchase proposal is before taking on the expense of the process which would include creating an abstract at a cost of between $300 and $500.
Dwight Varce brought up the subject of establishing a permanent site for skateboarding and in-line skating, for the council's future consideration. A skate park had been temporarily placed in Gillette Park but was removed in preparation for the major renovation of the park. The renovations will not include a skate park.
Varce noted that construction equipment and labor will be volunteered for the project and funds have been raised for at least part of the recreational equipment. For the cost of concrete and perhaps some additional miscellaneous expenses, the city could have a new recreational area for youth.
"The George Bacon estate was designated for recreation. I know the bulk of that needs to go to the Aquatic Center but I think it would be appropriate for some to go for this," Varce said.
A prime area being considered for a skatepark is the area directly behind the bus barn on Bluff Street. Varce said this is a well lit area easily viewed by traffic on Bluff Street, including police cars.
It had been a concern at the previous skatepark location that the isolated nature of the park had resulted in an inappropriate environment for children.
Mick Mallory, brought up two items for discussion about the operation of city government. Although the department heads earn a salary rather than an hourly wage, Mallory thought it would set a good example for the other employees for department heads to punch a time clock like the hourly employees do.
The city council members will contact the department heads for which they serve as liaison and get back to the council with their comments.
Mallory had also asked previously how many city employees take home city vehicles overnight.
Deb Taylor had surveyed the departments and asked about taking home vehicles. A water department employee who is on call takes home a vehicle during the week and the sewer department head takes home a vehicle.
The sewer department head will be asked why this is necessary for future discussion.
At the start of the meeting, Norman Rupp, a citizen, made the comment that he did not believe the city needed a city administrator. He said if others, including the mayor, took on a bit more work the city could get by without that position, like other cities do.
Rupp also asked the question of whether the other person responsible for the "fiasco at Tyson" would be dismissed or disciplined.
Mayor Dennis Henrich answered, "no." Henrich said that the Tyson company was satisfied with the resolution of the matter.
Ben Jobe, owner of Jobe's Pastime, asked the council to consider dropping the beer and wine permit for the Cherokee Community Center. He noted that the community center is directly across the center from the high school and near to the swimming pool and Gillette Park, now undergoing extensive remodeling expected to increase its use.
Jobe presented information showing that the community center has lost money in operation of community center events at which alcohol is available. He explained that the community center operation in Alta was the inspiration for the availability of beer and wine at Cherokee Community Center. He said Alta is a community that lacks the same venues as Cherokee has for holding events with alcohol available such as the VFW and WIT.
Jobe was thanked for his input and council members indicated they will consider his suggestion.