Schmidt and Woodruff fill city council positions; new city administrator takes oath
Amidst a flurry of oaths, chair changes, and speeches the Peabody city administration changed hands Monday night as often happens at two-year intervals in this city. When the dust settled, new city administrator Mac Manning was sworn in to his position and he facilitated the swearing in of a new mayor and two council members.
Manning told the council he intends to meet with each member to discuss goals and objectives. He also outlined a plan to meet with department heads, local businesses, and residents.
He thanked the council and mayor for the chance to serve the Peabody community and said his door always would be open.
“I am willing to talk about any problems or issues that might arise,” he said. “I may not have an answer, but I am a good listener and we can at least seek a solution.”
Following Larsen’s oath of office, former mayor Ed Slocombe also addressed the council, employees, and audience. He thanked the community for giving him a chance to serve as councilman and mayor, calling his terms “interesting.”
Slocombe said he was proud both of Peabody’s comprehensive plan (the first in 30 years) and finally having a planning and zoning board.
“Both of those things will provide guidance for the community,” he said.
Steve Rose was re-elected president of the council.
At the end of his first council meeting as mayor, Larsen also expressed his thanks to the community and his hope that with the sewer project behind them and a good group on-board, the city could look toward community growth and economic development.
One of Larsen’s first tasks will be to fill the council vacancy left by his move to the mayoral position. The council will need to approve the person he appoints.
Jim Philpott and Christie McBride both have expressed an interest in filling the vacancy. After brief questions of both candidates, Schmidt moved to table a decision until the April 27 meeting to allow council members to talk with constituents and seek community input. The council gave unanimous approval to postpone the decision.
In other business:
- The planning and zoning budget was confirmed at $4,000 for member Jim Rippe.
- Beth Eldridge presented the council with photographs of the alley in the 300 block between Sycamore and Maple streets. Flooding has become a major problem in the alley with every rain and Third Street has begun to disintegrate because of the onslaught of water. The council will have Darren Pickens review the area and bring a recommendation and some cost estimates to the April 27 meeting.
- Charles Butterfield of Butterfield Construction was present to answer any questions council members had about the reclamation of the former sewer plant property. Butterfield had photographs of the project before it was started and after the land was graded and grass planted.
- Schmidt noted the completion of the sewer project was “a long day coming.” CDBG administrator Bill Strait will conduct the final public hearing at 6:30 p.m. April 27 and the project will be closed.
- Approval was given for a request for barricades on July Fourth, a $25 contribution to Peabody-Burns bands, and a proclamation to declare April “Fair Housing Month.”
- Peabody Main Street Director Shane Marler reported that 1,900 “unique” visitors have checked in on the new Operation Celebration website. He invited the mayor, council, city employees, and public to a reception Thursday morning for new city administrator Manning.
- Marler told the council that a third DVD of Peabody and its citizens had been sent to NBC in New York City. He invited councilmen to help with the Walnut Street cleanup project on Saturday.
- Interim City Clerk Stephanie Ax reminded council members they need to make annual appointments to non-elected positions such as planning and zoning and other city entities. Ax presented the council with a list. The appointments will be made May 11.
- Ax also noted that most of the city’s fire extinguishers were inspected during the past week and were out of compliance. In fact, many were so old they could not be refilled. Also neglected, Ax found, were the filters on the city building furnace and air conditioning system. Neither had been replaced in years. The council agreed to a maintenance contract to keep the furnace and air conditioner cleaned and working. Bids will be accepted before the next meeting.
- The council heard that city building inspector Arlen Gfeller will be going to work in the private sector and will no longer be available to serve as planning and zoning administrator and building inspector. Manning will serve the city as planning and zoning administrator and bring information to the next meeting about finding a building inspector.
- Beth Peter was hired as pool manager for the 2009 summer season with salary and opening/closing dates to be determined. Council members approved leaving the fees the same as for the 2008 season, acknowledging that the pool is not a money-maker anyway and in the current economy more people might be able to take advantage of having a pool if the fees remain the same.
- The council agreed to go back to the 2008 street plan that was abandoned a month ago to make a new application for stimulus funds available to Marion County communities. Jim Ralston of APAC Paving will be invited to the next meeting and the original project for Eighth Street, Pine and Seventh streets will be revisited.