With the new year underway and a sizable agenda ahead for the evening, the Stockton board of aldermen met at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 11, to address the city's first business of 2021.
After roll call, the Pledge of Allegiance and an opening prayer from alderman Barbara Pate, the board heard its first request of the evening.
As the meeting began, Robert Starbuck, Stockton, presented a request for a variance to an existing city regulation for the purpose of installing a chain link fence in his front yard.
“I'm familiar with the property we're discussing and I don't see any reason to object to the request,” alderman Mark Frieze said. “I feel it's a reasonable place to put a fence for a dog or family purposes.”
After input from public works supervisor Raymond Heryford and building inspector/code enforcer John Wilson, Sr., which confirmed the proposed fence would not obstruct visibility for emergency purposes, nor would it inhibit public works needs should they arise, the board unanimously approved Starbuck's request and granted the one-time variance.
The assembled board next heard from members of the Fox and Bahr families related to a proposed purchase request for a piece of the city's industrial park bordering the northern boundary of property owned by the Fox family where the Stockton Seed House is located and operating.
Area resident Tiffany Bahr presented a document dated Oct. 8, 1979, granting first right of refusal to William A. Fox – Bahr's recently-passed father and longtime owner of Stockton Seed House – for the agreed upon price of $10,382 for the property in question.
“We're asking to purchase this because my mom is still alive and she owns Stockton Seed House,” Bahr said. “The price is more than fair and we just want to know what the holdup is. We're ready to buy this and we want the city to stand by its agreement.”
Bahr went on to note her father's many contributions to the Stockton community and emotionally encouraged the city to honor the purchase request.
Frieze confirmed his support for honoring the existing agreement and supporting documentation.
No further discussion or decision was rendered as city attorney Peter Lee said the potential purchase was scheduled to be discussed in closed session, as most real estate matters involving city acquisitions and liquidations frequently are.
The representatives of the Fox and Bahr families both thanked the aldermen for hearing their request to honor the agreement; alderman Barbara Pate thanked the members of both families for their presence on behalf of the board of aldermen.
The assembled aldermen then approved the minutes of the previous meeting, along with the current bills for monthly city operations.
OLD BUSINESS (subhead, bold, all caps)
A tentative plan for modifications to Stockton City Hall's lobby was presented to officials in attendance.
Discussion ensued and Frieze retrieved a tape measure from his personal vehicle to demonstrate the dimensions of the proposed modifications and existing structures currently inside the building.
After a collective understanding was reached, the board unanimously approved the solicitations of bids for the proposed work and will review submitted project estimates within the terms of the coming request for proposals.
Moving forward, Stockton mayor Roger Hamby informed the assembled board and present officials the city's annual contract with the Cedar County Sheriff's Office to provide law enforcement services within the city limits of Stockton was secured for the 2021 calendar year with no increase in cost compared to last year's agreement.
The collective board noted the unchanged total cost was a welcome benefit to the city and unanimously confirmed the contractual agreement, as well.
REPORTS FROM APPOINTED BOARDS (subhead, bold, all caps)
No members of the Stockton park board were present; however, an approved request to grant the American Legion Trent-Sallee Post 230's use of the city's historic Community Building for blood drives throughout the next year was presented by city clerk Vanessa Harper on the park board's behalf.
After brief review, the board unanimously approved the organization's use of the facility on all requested dates with fess waived.
No member of the cemetery bpoard was present, but city officals had been made aware of some minor confusion in regard to burial plots owned by longtime Stockton resident Laurel Graves.
Recently, Graves had produced a receipt for burial plots in a section of the older portion of the city's cemetery, but it was unclear as to the specific plots the receipt applied to.
Based on having proof of payment for burial plots dating back more than three decades, the assembled aldermen did not hesitate to confirm Graves rightly owned the plots which were initially in question.
Law enforcement liaison corporal Mike Bullinger of the CCSO was present to convey regular activity and citation data regarding law enforcement efforts within the city limits.
Bullinger confirmed the department had been involved in two vehicle pursuits which each entered the city limits on separate dates.
One pursuit resulted in a single-vehicle accident; the other was resolved after spike strips were successfully deployed.
Bullinger added no other significant or unusual activity had been reported or addressed.
Hamby and the collective board shared its appreciation for the services provided by the CCSO and no further law enforcement activity was reported.
No member of the airport board was present as air traffic and activity at the city's municipal airport has been infrequent due largely in part to seasonal winter weather conditions.
REPORTS FROM APPOINTED OFFICIALS (subhead, bold, all caps)
During reports from appointed officials, Lee addressed the city's current language in its existing drug-free workplace policy.
“At some point, the city will need to address how it categorizes marijuana,” Lee said. “Missouri has approved medical marijuana now and the city will need to decide how this is labeled or acknowledged. There's new legislation being introduced at a federal level on this and I suspect it will pass. We'll have to determine how we address it and move forward from there.”
Harper noted the city's eligibility for grants could be negatively impacted if changes were made to the current way the city classifies marijuana, as a drug-free workplace is a standard requirement for most federal funding provided to municipalities.
Further discussion ensued and the board collectively agreed to address the matter as new and/or clarifying federal legislation potentially becomes available.
COMMUNICATIONS FROM ELECTED OFFICIALS (subhead, bold, all caps)
In hearing from elected officials, aldermen Brent Wallen shared he had spoken to a property owner in relation to potentially obtaining a utility easement on a residential property inside the city limits.
Wallen noted the property owner was apprehensive about potentially affixing an easement to the property's deed, but verbally confirmed their willingness to let the city access the property to trench an area for the installation of electrical lines.
Lee will address the legalese in the matter to quell concerns and streamline the effort in an attempt to secure a potential written agreement for basic utility access.
In briefly mentioning a recent question raised regarding the city's $100 annual boot allowance for employees who work in a public works capacity, Hamby said he agreed with the city's current policy; however, the language likely required adjustment to reflect proper type and style of safety-compliant footwear.
Wilson stated he had a meeting scheduled with the city's current liability insurance provider on Monday, Jan. 25, and would add the need for clarification to the topics he planned to discuss.
Hamby said he also was attending the meeting and will inform the board of what the liability provider recommends to clarify the language, as well as the provider's input on proper footwear specifications for pubic works staff.
With nothing further to discuss publicly, the aldermen closed open session and entered into closed session at 5:55 p.m. to discuss confidential matters.
Stockton board of aldermen meetings are held the second and fourth Monday of each month at Stockton City Hall.
Aldermen meetings are open to the public and interested community members remain encouraged to attend.