At the request of Florence City Superintendent Phil Baldwin, Florence Mayor Greg Winn and council members addressed some issues Monday evening related to Hillcrest Cemetery.
Baldwin said he and some city employees had been to the cemetery to pick up limbs and branches, and found several large piles of dog excrement.
“I know local people have a habit of taking their dogs out there to let them run, but it is becoming a problem,” he said. “I don’t think people who go to the cemetery to decorate graves or attend the funeral of a loved one should have to deal with that.
“It seems disrespectful to me,” he added.
Baldwin asked the council to allow him to put up signs that request people not let their dogs run unless they are prepared to pick-up after them.
Councilman Bryan Harper agreed. “I take my dog out there, but I guess I didn’t think about it being a problem. I’ll either clean it up or let the dog run somewhere else.”
Linda Heath addressed the council from the audience saying she had a lot of family buried there and she did not consider it a problem.
“It doesn’t bother me,” she said. “It’s just a fact of life.”
After discussion, the council agreed to put up signs requesting the public’s cooperation.
Councilman Randy Mills said, “Plenty of places require dog owners to pick up after their animals. It’s a reasonable request.”
Baldwin received permission to have a large catalpa tree with several hollow limbs and a sizeable dying cedar tree removed, and dead limbs trimmed from a third tree.
“The dead limbs are hanging over several graves,” he said. “If they fall they are going to do some damage.”
Baldwin also noted that Town and Country restaurant owners were unhappy with a comment printed in the Nov. 5 issue of the Peabody Gazette-Bulletin quoting Baldwin’s opinion about grease buildup in the sewer lines near the restaurant.
“I need to apologize to them,” he said. “They took me through the restaurant and showed me how little grease actually gets into the system. The grease from the cookers and such is taken out to a dump container behind the restaurant.
“We are still trying to figure out where it might be coming from,” Baldwin said.
In other business, the council:
- heard from Florence Chamber of Commerce member Mary Jane Grimmett the Labor Day committee would like to purchase a new speaker system for downtown community events. After discussion, the council requested the chamber check with Westar Energy about use of their poles. “The city would OK the project provided Westar is in agreement,” Mills said.
- Grimmett also announced the annual community Christmas event will start at 6 p.m. on Dec. 6, with Santa’s arrival by fire truck, downtown tree lighting, a puppet show, and other events.
- approved a $1 per hour pay raise for part-time officer Jeremy Wilkerson who works 16 hours per week for Florence Police Department.
- heard that interim fire chief Mark Slater had purchased a battery for the repeater on the co-op elevator, in hopes of replacing it while the weather is good. Slater reminded the council the previous repeater failed during an ice storm and the city was left unprotected. The battery to be replaced was three years old.
- heard also that Joe Box resigned Nov. 10 from the fire department.
- heard from Warner that she and Slater have been trying to pin down officials associated with the grant money the fire department received. They have heard conflicting stories on whether or not the fire department will be allowed to spend the remainder of the funds not spent on bunker gear.
- approved a request by David Woody to use an un-maintained road and alley adjacent to his property at 315 W. Eight. The city will move in some dirt and Woody will provide gravel and maintenance to the street and alley, using it to and from his home.
- approved a request to give city employees a day off the day after Christmas as long as someone maintains an “on call” presence.
- heard the locks on the city building had been changed following the discovery of a break-in in October.
- discussed hosting a Christmas dinner for officials, city employees, fire, ambulance, and police crews. No decision was made. Warner and city clerk Janet Robinson will report back Dec. 1.
- approved the purchase of an ADA acceptable drinking fountain for Veterans Park. ADA officer Del Leeds will bring additional information and bids for installation to the next meeting.
- heard from Mills and Slater burning trees at the former football field is going to be a slow process. The trees are packed so tightly that mud and moisture prevents them from burning freely.
- approved an agreement to hire Knudsen and Monroe as city auditors for 2009.
- heard from Winn that Kansas Department of Transportation will “suspend most construction lettings for two months due to the economy. KDOT anticipates a $211 million shortfall for 2009.”