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Mayor learns to practice what he preaches to citizens

Staff writer

The ghost of junk mail past visited Mayor Todd Heitschmidt this holiday season.

Several times in recent months, city residents have received mailings — all on city letterhead, most bearing the mayor’s signature — urging them to buy water and sewer line insurance from a Pennsylvania company.

The optional insurance covers lines from city mains to residences. The city, which approved the mailings in 2013, earns a commission on each policy sold.

One of the residents the city failed to get a commission from was its mayor, who decided not to sign up.

“Let me just report that the mayor is now a very strong proponent of buying the insurance that goes out under his name,” Heitschmidt told City Council members Monday.

Earlier this month, the sewer line to his home in the 500 block of Locust St. failed.

Although the other side of the street has an alley, meaning sewer lines extend only a short distance from homes to the city main, on Heitschmidt’s side of the street, the main is three-quarters of a block away on Hudson St.

Two extensive excavations and, as Heitschmidt put it, “thousands and thousands of dollars” later, the mayor once again has a functioning sewer line — and with a newfound commitment to identifying and informing other homeowners with similarly long runs to sewer mains.

Notifications should be going out shortly, Heitschmidt said.

At a 30-minute meeting Monday, council members also:

  • Agreed with a Planning Commission recommendation to deny Theron and Alicia Nienstedt permission to rent, to a temporary worker at Cindy’s Family Café space, for an occupied recreational vehicle in a low-density residential area at 112 Billings St.

“We just thought it wasn’t something that we’d want to start because other people might want to do it,” commission vice chair Margo Yates said.

  • Renewed beer licenses for Ampride, Carlsons’ Grocery, Pizza Hut, and SherBowl Lanes/Willie J’s 9th Lane Sports Bar and a club license for VFW Post 6958.
  • Approved technical budget charges including a $9,479 increase in library spending authority, mainly for personnel services, and a $91,135 increase in special parks and recreation spending, primarily reflecting transfer of money from Marion Advancement Campaign for construction of Central Park restrooms.
  • Reappointed Layla Lovelady, who had been filling an unexpired term on Marion Housing Authority.
  • Endorsed Parks and Recreation Board bylaws that will allow up to four of the nine board members to reside outside the city but within the Marion-Florence school district.

Council member Jerry Dieter termed the bylaws “exciting reading,” but Heitschmidt drew attention to a provision dismissing any member with more than three unexcused absences in a year — a bylaw that he termed a model for other city boards to adopt.

Yates, newly appointed as parks and recreation director, said the new board already has begun meeting monthly.

“I’m really encouraged with that new board,” she said. “They’re really jumping right in.”

Among upcoming activities will be 27 basketball games, to be played on two courts Jan. 2 and 9 at the Sports and Aquatics Center.

Last modified Dec. 24, 2015

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