November 21, 2014

New city council members sworn in

The city of Gardner reopened for business Monday night as mayoral appointees Kristina Harrison and Dan Newburg took the oath of office and sat in the chairs formerly occupied by John Shepherd and Mary Peters.

Legally, Mayor Dave Drovetta could not conduct any official city business until reaching a quorum and thus was required to appoint the two council members immediately.

After City Clerk Teresa Anderson presented the official results of the recall election, which were made official by the Johnson County Election Office on March 8, Drovetta briefly explained his appointment process to those in the audience.

“This is not an ideal situation, but it is the situation we have,” Drovetta said. “We will now move forward in a legal manner.”

Drovetta first introduced appointee Harrison to sitting council members Steve Hale and Todd Winters, both of whom voiced their support for her.

“I’ve known Kristi for many years,” Hale said. “I’ve lost arguments with her, so I know she’s not a ‘yes’ person.”

Winters, who has served on the Festival on the Trails committee with Harrison, said he thought she would make a good addition to the governing body.

“She’s been very professional, hard working and intelligent,” Winters said.

Anderson swore in Harrison, who took her place among the council. Harrison will fill the remainder of Peters’ term, which expires in 2013.

Drovetta then presented Dan Newburg, pastor at Gardner Church of the Nazarene, to the three council members.

“We have a strong faith community in our town,” Drovetta said. “I felt (Newburg’s appointment) would be a good opportunity.”

He said he knew he had to act quickly last week when council member Dan Thompson voiced an intent to resign, then reconsidered that intent.

“With that uncertainty, I had to think about my options,” Drovetta said, adding that shortly thereafter he approached Newburg with a request to serve on the council. Drovetta also said he still plans on seeking assistance in interviewing candidates for Thompson’s old council seat, and that he expects to have Thompson’s replacement seated by the second council meeting in April.

Newburg accepted Drovetta’s offer to serve on the council on March 10. He will serve the remainder of Shepherd’s term, which ends in 2011.

Again, both Hale and Winters agreed with Drovetta that Newburg’s appointment would serve the council and the city well.

“I’m impressed with his willingness to bring the community together,” Winters said.

Hale said he agreed.

“It’s a fine appointment,” he said. “Both (appointees) have stepped up on behalf of their city.”

After Newburg took his seat on the council, Drovetta announced the need to select a new council president and vice president. Shepherd had served as president, while Winters held the vice presidential title.

Hale nominated Winters as the new council president, a motion seconded by Newburg. Winters then nominated Hale as vice president, a motion seconded by Harrison.

The public comments period that followed yielded only one statement by an audience member. Steve Shute stepped to the podium and congratulated the new council members, adding that “The time for healing is now.”

“To me, all I want from this council is healing,” Shute said. “We’re sick and tired of the comments and the infighting in public and in the media.”

Shute said he was concerned that three out of the four sitting council members were mayoral appointees, and he warned that the public would hold its government accountable for its actions.
“We will be watching very closely how this goes,” he said.

In other business, the council:
* adopted a resolution supporting the application for tax credits for the construction of multi-family housing at Bethel Estates.
* Approved cereal malt beverage licenses for Smoke N Babes BBQ and Fat Kat’s BBQ.
* Authorized the destruction of 63 boxes of records and documents that have been held past the required retention dates. Included in the records are cancelled bench warrants and paid traffic tickets.
* Authorized staff to secure extensions of temporary construction easements required for the Moonlight and Main Street Intersection Project and the North Moonlight Road Project.
* Adopted a resolution approving the 2010-14 County Assistance Road System Program for road improvements in the city.
* Authorized the city administrator to execute an engineering services agreement with Bucher Willis Ratliff Corp. to conduct an environmental assessment for the Gardner Municipal Airport. The firm will conduct the assessment for future land acquisition, runway improvements and drainage improvements at the airport.

The council will next meet at 7 p.m. Monday, April 5 at City Hall.

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