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Drug dog, land use compliance occupy City Council

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Cherokee City Council Tuesday approved a proposed fund drive to assist the Cherokee Police Department in replacing its retiring drug dog, approved the purchase of two new one-ton pickup trucks for the Water and Wastewater Departments, and discussed at length a review of the land use ordinance involving Swain Motor Company at 100 E. Willow St., the former Cherokee Middle School building.

After seeking donations from local businesses and citizens in 2001, the CPD acquired its current K9 drug dog, Shiloh, which, along with then-handler Jim Buck, became an award-winning, effective team for six years. Buck moved to Enid, Okla. in 2007 and Police Officer Adam Roberts was assigned to the K9 Unit and became partners with Shiloh. Since then, they have reaped numerous state and federal awards and certifications, and have conducted numerous drug searches, seizures and arrests throughout Western Iowa, and completed informative public demonstrations in communities and many schools.

However, Shiloh is now 11 years old and most Police dogs retire between ages 8-10, so "It's time for her to turn her badge in," said Roberts in a letter to the City.

The CPD is initiating a fund drive to support the purchase of a dog to replace Shiloh. The Council unanimously endorsed the need for a CPD K9 and approved the proposed fund drive.

The City also approved the purchase of two new pickups from low bidder Holzhauer Motors Ltd. of Cherokee - a Chevrolet 4WD with box for $24,985 for the Wastewater Treatment Plant, and a Chevrolet 4WD with no box for $24,487 for the Water Department. The Water Department pickup will be equipped with a utility box after purchase.

The Council reviewed the land use ordinance with Swain Motor Company in its efforts to force Swains to comply with the ordinance concerning old "inoperable" vehicles displayed at the former Cherokee Middle School site.

City Administrator Don Eikmeier said the City has been working with Swains to resolve the issue for "eight or nine months" and no solution has been reached. He said Swains had agreed to build a building to house the vehicles in question and have failed to do so.

Swains claim the vehicles are licensed, "restoreable" vehicles and not "salvage" or "junked" vehicles as they have been called or may appear.

Karen Swain explained to the Council that their auto repair business has been very busy since the hailstorm several weeks ago and they have been unable to erect the proposed building to house the vehicles in question. She said the family planned on constructing the building themselves but couldn't yet find the time.

The Swain facility is in a C-1 (Commercial) Zone and any type of salvage operation is not a permitted use. Rick Swain Jr. indicated the proposed building would be a 48X72 structure, or possibly a 48X100 if they can afford it and when they are able to erect it.

After much discussion and give-and-take, including a motion by Council member Dan Morrow that Swains erect a large fence to conceal the alleged eyesores that died for lack of a second, the Council on a 3-1 vote approved enforcing the existing ordinance forcing Swains to comply in the near future.

Eikmeier will meet with City Attorney Wally Miller Jr. to establish legal procedure from this point moving forward, and they will communicate with the Swains.

Council members Mick Mallory, Wayne Pingel, and Jim Peck voted for proceeding, while Dan Morrow voted against it. Council member Linda Burkhart, also Mayor Pro-Tem, was conducting the meeting in the absence of Mayor Mark Murphy, and can't vote in that capacity.

Eikmeier also told the Council that a "major problem" has developed with Alliant Energy regarding the West Cherry Street renovation project now underway. Alliant was to have its service lines and high pressure line on 5th Street lowered by the end of May so the contractor could begin final grade work and pavement. However, Alliant has yet to show up.

Eikmeier said Alliant was supposed to be on the job last Tuesday (June 14). "If Alliant was out of the way, the paving crews would have begun work this week," explained Eikmeier. "It now appears the actual paving is now delayed until the last week in June or first week of July."

In other action, the Council authorized resolutions awarding the North 11th Street Improvement Project to Godbersen Smith of Ida Grove for an estimated $400,000; an 11th Street Construction Administration and Inspection Contract to Dewild Grant & Reckert Associates for an estimated $39,000; and an 11th Street Construction Staking Project to Professional Survey Services Inc. for $10,000.

Godbersen Smith was the low bidder for the 11th Street Project, and is also general contractor for the ongoing West Cherry Street Project, with Lundell Construction of Cherokee a major subcontractor on both jobs.

The Council also heard from resident city critic Mike Morrow during the Public Forum time which is offered at the start of each Council meeting.

Morrow contends that the City needs new and tougher "cat laws" in town due to the growing amount of feral cats, including a resident near South 6th and West Elm Streets who feeds several stray cats. "I've trapped eight of them myself, " exclaimed Morrow. When asked what he did with them, he replied, "They all left town."

Morrow also took issue with the City's failure to enact a mandatory recycling program like other communities, with fees and penalties issued to those failing to comply. "That garbage mountain out there (Cherokee County Landfill) is the first thing people see coming into Cherokee," said Morrow.

Koser Spring Lake resident Chad Carey also asked the City to follow through with some sort of traffic control measures to slow down vehicles driving through Koser Spring Lake Park. The north to south thoroughfare from U.S, Highway 59 near the river to Lake Street and Tyson Deli is posted at 15 mph, but Carey said most motorists exceed that speed and are a danger to park users, children, walkers, bicyclists, etc. Carey proposed installation of inexpensive speed bumps for the street.

Eikmeier said he would again visit with Street Superintendent Jim Agnitsch and Police Chief Steve Schuck and put the matter on the agenda for the June 28 meeting.



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