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(Water Park Slide, Sky Lanterns, Street Projects, CPD Structural Issues, False Alarm Ordinance, Settlement)

Plan For New Water Slide Sinks
By Catherine Stortz Ripley
January 12, 2016

The proposal for a new $128,000 water slide at Chilli Bay Water Park this year sank with a 2-3 vote by Chillicothe City Council members Monday evening at City Hall. Park board members, the parks director, pool manager and a lifeguard, as well as two council members, the mayor and city administrator, advocated for adding the slide, stating that it was part of the city's initial $4 million aquatic center renovation plan. Opponents stated that other areas within the city park system need funding attention and were not in favor of spending more than $99,000 for the slide. Even when City Attorney Robert Cowherd tossed a life preserver to the flailing slide proposal by suggesting half the funding for the overage (approximately $15,000) could be made by local foundations if the other half would be made by the city (for an approximate total of $114,000 in city funds), the three dissenting voters said they would not be in favor of spending anything more than the $99,000 left over from the park's construction for the purchase of the slide.

Talks of adding the slide were the result of the initial aquatic center renovation four years ago. Although the slide was part of the plan, city officials decided to remove it because they were concerned construction costs would exceed the budgeted amount. The infrastructure for the slide was completed, however, with the thought that the slide could be added at a later date. After total construction figures were finalized, $99,200 remained in the renovation's budget. This amount included a cost reduction as the result of a settlement with the city's contractor, 2-Point Construction, for completing the project late. The leftover money could be used for completing the original plan by adding the slide or could be used to help pay down the original bonds used for the park's construction. The leftover funds must be used only for the water park.

On Monday, council members reviewed the slide bids. Two were submitted; and the recommended bid was from AquaBlue, Inc. in the amount of $128,105 for an open body water slide and all associated pumps and electrical work at the water park. City Administrator Ike Holland stated that the city had funds to pay for the slide, although it would be over the project's remaining $99,000. He said that the city has generated extra revenues through the sale of surplus equipment and property. "It is not a money issue," he said.

Chilli Bay Manager Janice Shaffer said that the open flume slide would be family-oriented and give patrons more opportunity to enjoy the water park. The slide would be built adjacent to an existing slide and would use the same steps as the other slide. She said she staffs the current slide with two lifeguards and that the addition of another slide would not require additional help; therefore, making good use of the lifeguards already stationed at the original slide. Shaffer said that other cities are renovating their pools and that adding a slide to Chilli Bay would be a good idea. "It is a new feature and something that we can promote," she said. "It would be an addition to an already amazing facility." More than 30,000 people visited Chilli Bay Water Park last year, according to Parks Director Josh Norris. Mayor Chuck Haney said that the number of attendees tells only part of the story and that the city realizes revenues in the form of water park visitors also stopping by gas stations, restaurants and even hotels.

Fourth Ward City Councilman Paul Howard said he supported spending extra funds to finish the project. Second Ward councilman Wayne Cunningham maintained his previous position in that he would like to see the city use those funds to pay down the debt. "I don't think it is fair to put more money out there when there are other needs in the parks system," Cunningham said. He noted needs such as improvements to the walking trails at Danner and Simpson Park, the parking lot at Danner Park, and the playground at Simpson Park. First Ward Councilman Reed Dupy agreed, stating that he would like to see the new slide added, but that the city has other issues to address. Douglas stated that he would not support the project if it exceeded $99,000, also stating that other needs exist within the city. Howard and Councilman-at-Large David Moore voted in support of adding the new slide; while Dupy, Cunningham and Douglas voted against the proposal. Following the vote, Moore said he was frustrated. "We have the money to do this project," he said. "Why should we penalize something that has been so successful." Since the council voted down the slide proposal, Moore recommended using the $99,000 to pay down the debt. Administrator Holland said he would like to see the city consider using that money to purchase something for the water park. The city pays around $525,000 annually on the water park bonds, with the final payment scheduled for 2023.

City Prohibits Use of Sky Lanterns
By Catherine Stortz Ripley
January 13, 2016

Sky lanterns, small hot air balloons often used during celebrations of life and July 4th festivities, are now banned from the city of Chillicothe. City council members, during their regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall, passed an ordinance prohibiting the sale or use of aerial luminaries, commonly known as sky lanterns. Sky lanterns are made of paper with an opening at the bottom where a small fire is suspended. The lanterns remain airborne by the use of heated air. Fire Chief Darrell Wright said that the fire department has received several requests for sky lanterns to be used as part of memorial observances; however, up until Monday night's passage, the city had no control over the use of sky lanterns because they didn't fall into the definition of fireworks. While the city has an ordinance prohibiting the use of many types of fireworks (including bottle rockets and Roman candles), sky lanterns are not considered a firework because it does not detonate.

City Street Projects Still Incomplete
By Catherine Stortz Ripley
January  14, 2016

City streets that received asphalt overlays as part of last year's street program are significantly completed and, in general, are in good shape; however, in several areas where the contractor milled around utility covers (storm drain and sanitary sewer lids) work has yet to be done because the road surface is uneven in those areas. Chillicothe Street Commissioner Barry Arthur provided an update of the city's street work during the council's regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall. He said that the uneven areas were because the contractor may not have milled down deep enough or added more asphalt that what should have been used. There are four places on JFK Street and one or two on Peacher Street that need to be fixed. Work on Bryan Street, from Edgewood to the west end of the First Baptist Church parking lot, is still incomplete; and the contractor, Missouri Curb and Pavement, is facing liquidated damages at a rate of $250 per day. This section of street was closed for about two months while the previous broken-up asphalt street surface was removed and a new concrete street with curb and gutter was installed. Although the street is open for travel, one storm drain in the center of the project, which is made of brick, must be rebuilt. Arthur also stated that there is a drainage issue at the corner of Edgewood and Bryan Street that has yet to be addressed. Arthur stated that contractor was given 120 days to get all its contracted street projects completed. With the wet weather eliminating possible work days from the schedule, the final date for completion was set at October 15. Cold weather is now affecting the project and some days likely will be discounted. Just how much will be discounted has yet to be determined. As for Third Street, between Woodward and Grandview, the contractor has completed the curbs and gutters. Because of limited funds, the city chose to do the 2-inch overlay this spring and summer. Prior to the overlay, the road surface will be milled. Fairway received curb and gutter and asphalt overlay last year. Many of the city's street projects still need backfilling, as well as seed and mulching. These include Park Avenue, Fairway, Bryan and Third streets. The best time for mulching and seeding, Arthur stated, is in February and March.

City Council Discusses Structural Issues at Police Department
January 14, 2016

Chillicothe City Council members on Monday addressed structural issues concerning two buildings: the Chillicothe Police Department and the Livingston County Multi-Purpose Center. The city's contracted engineer from All-State Consultants presented reports on both buildings during the city council's regular meeting. The wall of the police department shifted a couple months ago, and the building area affected by the shift has been evacuated according to City Administrator Ike Holland. Through assessing the building, it was determined that the outward movement along the west wall appeared to have been caused by lateral earth pressure. It was apparent that these pressures have caused the west wall to rotate outward. This moving also contributed to the slab settlement along the west wall. Poorly placed backfill and possible collapse of the duct system below the slab likely contributed to the slab movement as well, the engineer said. Council members agreed to put the project out for bid this week to make repairs and shore up the wall. The engineer also presented a report on the privately-owned multi-purpose center. The council first discussed structural issues concerning the building several months ago. The Concerned Citizens for the Community leases the facility for the senior center and the group is considering purchasing the building; however, a corner of the building is settling, and the city was asked to provide rip-rap along the nearby ditch to help keep the land from eroding. In discussions concerning the multi-purpose center, the engineer stated that a crack has formed on the northwest corner of the building and is likely from settlement that has been exacerbated over the years from a combination of the building being built too close to the stream bank and roof water that is allowed to drain via a downspout directly to the corner of the building. He said that there was nothing that the city did or didn't do that is affecting the building. The engineer also addressed the option of the city providing rip rap. Due to the close proximity of the building, there is a risk to the building during the construction of the bank stabilization. In order to adequately place the rip rap, heavy construction equipment would need to be used to clear the vegetation and place the rip rap. This work would be immediately adjacent to the building and could potentially destabilize the slope during construction activities. The engineer stated that if the building owners wish to repair and protect the existing building, a qualified structural engineer should evaluate the building and develop plans to address the issues that could potentially include constructing piers to support the foundation at the northwest corner of the building and re-routing the downspouts in the area to discharge farther from the edge of the building.

City May Start Assessing Fines for Repeated False Alarms
By Catherine Stortz Ripley
January 20, 2016

The city of Chillicothe may considering an ordinance to discourage repeated false alarms and frequent alarm system malfunctions that lead to unnecessary expenses for taxpayers and can create potentially dangerous situations for the public and law enforcement officers. Specifics of the ordinance have yet to be drafted; however, the city council responded favorably to the idea of assessing fines against those responsible for causing repeated false alarms. This would affect both the police and fire departments. When Police Chief Rick Knouse asked the council to consider an ordinance to address nuisance alarms, Chillicothe Fire Chief Darrell Wright asked that false fire alarms be included as well. The frequency of occurrences for the police department can be four or five times a week, and sometimes, twice daily from the same place, Knouse told the Constitution-Tribune. Officers are trained in ways of how to respond to alarms. "We respond to them as an actual event," Knouse said. Sometimes, the officers respond with lights and sirens; other times, they arrive quietly. They arrive at the scene prepared for the worst case scenario; however, more often than not, they learn that the alarm was the result of someone who merely forgot to turn off the alarm or that a security system had, once again, malfunctioned. Although officers don't think of it as routine, repeated false alarms can try to condition them to what has become routine and, therefore, tempt them to let down their guard. Repeated false alarms are dangerous not only for the public but for the officers, Knouse said. Many communities have ordinances for assessing fines after a certain number of false alarms have been made at a single location. By implementing a fine, people tend to become more aware of the situations that either they or their alarm systems are creating. Most of the time, officers can talk to the property owner and the situations get fixed, Knouse said. "Other times, we can't seem to get it done," he said. A lot of communities have ordinances that implement fines after the third false alarm, Knouse said. Knouse said he'd like to significantly reduce the occurrences of false alarms so that if an alarm goes off, you know that it probably is the real thing. Fire Chief Wright said that there is one place in town where the fire department frequently responds. The calls come in, Wright said, because the building's alarm system isn't installed correctly and is so sensitive that when someone cooks, the alarm can go off. It's been going on like this for years, Wright said. "One of these days, their building is going to be on fire and you're going to think that someone is making toast again," he said. Yet, when the alarm sounds, the fire department responds as if it could be a real fire, taking two trucks and five or six firefighters. The false alarms are more than just an inconvenience for the occupants and the fire department; it's costly to the city - a minimum of $60 per call, Wright said. When firefighters go on a fire call, people are paged to cover the station. "Every time it goes off, it's costing us money," he said. He also stated that when the department is busy with other calls, false alarms become unnecessary strains on the department. "If it happens too many times during a week or month, then that's a nuisance," Wright said. "It's taking away from other people who may need a fire truck, ambulance or police car."

City, Woodworth Settle
By Catherine Stortz Ripley
Jan. 22, 2016

The city of Chillicothe and a former Chillicothe police officer reached a settlement with Chillicothe resident Mark Woodworth, who claimed his civil rights were violated following the shooting death of a rural Chillicothe woman in 1990. Chillicothe City Clerk Rozanne Frampton released information Thursday of the city council's Jan. 11 executive session at which time the council voted unanimously to pass an ordinance authorizing a contract to limit recovery from the city with Mark Woodworth and all acts necessary to carry out the terms of the contract. Council members are David Moore, Reed Dupy, Wayne Cunningham, Tom Douglas and Paul Howard. The clerk's office received a fully executed copy of the agreement on Wednesday. Woodworth made a demand upon the insurance companies issuing policies to the city and former police officer David Miller and offered a settlement and full release in exchange for payment of the combined policy limits. The Missouri Intergovernmental Risk Management Association (MIRMA) offered its policy limit. This amounted to MIRMA releasing $944,143.54. Two other companies - Savers Property and Casualty Insurance Company and Sphere Drake Insurance Company - denied coverage and filed a declaratory judgment against the parties, failing to defend the insureds and settle. The city and Miller are just two of several individuals and entities listed as defendants in a 2014 complaint filed by Woodworth in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri. Announcements regarding the other defendants and possible other settlements have not yet been made. Woodworth alleged that Miller participated in an unfair and improper investigation of Woodworth, acting in concert with others, and at all relevant times was acting in his official capacity as a member of the Chillicothe Police Department, a member of the North Missouri Major Case Squad and as an agent of the Livingston County Sheriff's Department. He was being sued in his individual and official capacities. The settlement agreed upon limits not only the liability of the city but also of Miller, in both capacities, said Robert Cowherd, Chillicothe city attorney. After nearly 18 years in incarceration (from the time he was 19 years old until 38 years of age) and after years of litigation, all charges against Woodworth were dropped on July 15, 2014. The settlement contract approved by the council states that the city acknowledges that on the basis of evidence supporting Woodworth's claims, including the witness testimony and documents, there is a viable case against the city. "Moreover, if such evidence exists then there is a reasonable likelihood of a verdict of liability and entry of judgment in favor of first party," the contract states. "As a result, and to avoid the risk of a large verdict in excess of their insurance limits, the second party has agreed to enter this agreement." Chillicothe City Administrator Ike Holland told the Constitution-Tribune that the settlement removes the city from the lawsuit. "It removes us from the lawsuit and any liability that would be determined by a judge or jury," Holland said. "We are not establishing he his guilty or not guilty."

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