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CITY COUNCIL MEETING 02/23/15 (Policeman Honored, Golf Course Equipment, Street Equipment, Engine Brake Ordinance)

City Bestows Honor on Police Officer
February 24, 2015

CAPTION: Chillicothe Police Chief Rick Knouse (left) and Mayor Chuck Haney (right) look on as City Administrator Ike Holland (back) reads a Certificate of Valor recognizing police officer Jacob Peterson for going beyond the call of duty to help rescue individuals who were trapped in a burning apartment building last week.

C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley

The City of Chillicothe honored a Chillicothe police officer Monday evening for going above and beyond the call of duty to help rescue someone trapped in an apartment fire last Tuesday. A recognition of valor plaque was presented by Mayor Chuck Haney, on behalf of the city council, administrator and police chief, to officer Jacob Peterson during the regular city council meeting Monday evening at City Hall. Peterson was among the first people to arrive on the scene and he entered the smoke-filled apartment building at 19 Webster Street. "Officer Peterson went beyond the call of duty in risking his own life in order to rescue a citizen trapped inside an apartment due to a fire," Administrator Ike Holland stated. "His acts, along with the Chillicothe Fire Department personnel, allowed for the safe rescue of the distressed citizen. Officer Peterson is a shining example of the department, the city and this community by displaying courage and selflessness in an event that could have had serious outcomes." Mayor Haney stated that the 911 call had come in with notification that the building was on fire and people were trapped inside. Within six minutes, the fire department had arrived on the scene. "There were folks who went beyond the call of duty," Mayor Haney stated. "Folks who helped during an anxiety time for a mother and a child in a second floor window. From the moment the call was made, the dispatchers and those who arrived at the scene played a major role." Police Chief Rick Knouse said that Peterson repeatedly stated that he was just, "doing my job." However, entering a smoke-filled building wearing just his police uniform and no breathing equipment goes beyond the call of duty. The chief recounted events of that evening. "I have officers who respond to this, have dispatchers talking on the phone to a lady who says 'I want to drop my baby out the window' of the second floor just to save its life. I have a sergeant (John Valbracht) who is talking to her negotiating with her to not drop the child out the window and wait until the fire department gets there. "At the same time," Knouse states, "I have an officer who is, as they are trained, crawling low on the floor (inside the building) calling out to someone. He can't find them. He said, 'crawl to me, come to my light.' Smoke overwhelms him. He gets a breath of fresh air and goes back in again and again. Whenever it's above and beyond the call of duty, I call that person a hero. And, I believe that's a pretty valorous act."

Also recognized for their performance were the firefighters who responded to the apartment fire; however, the firefighters respectfully declined the invitation from the city to be present and recognized during the meeting. Fire Chief Darrell Wright read a letter submitted by the firefighters. "The shift that was on duty respectfully declines your invitation to be recognized as the shift simply was the shift on duty," the letter stated. "Either of the other two shifts would have responded in the same way and performed in the same manner. This is our chosen career and we perform it gladly without recognition. We performed the way we were trained to perform." The department as a whole was involved with the fire that night from the crew that responded to the EMS call, to the on-call crew that covered the station in the event of another call, to the paid-by-calls who were off duty and responded to assist. "Please do not think that we do not appreciate the offer, but we prefer the entire department be recognized versus any one group or individual," the firefighters wrote in their letter. "There is no one group or individual that could perform the duties of a firefighter alone. As firefighters, we work off of the buddy and team system. We will never leave our fellow firefighters alone. We function successfully only as a group with the group having the same goal in mind, to serve the citizens of our community." Wright reiterated that what firefighters did that night is just part of their job. "What we did on that night, we do each and every day," Wright stated. He commended other departments who are involved that help the firefighters do their job, including the dispatchers. "Every time there is a 911 call, dispatchers talk the folks through it," Wright said. "They call the ambulances in, they tell us about county roads that are closed. Those guys do an extremely excellent job each and every day of the week. This night was no different. They didn't do anything that night that they don't do every night." "Every time we go on a call, the police are there," Wright continued. "They drag hose, they find fire plugs, they talk people through incidents, and we work beside them. I've worked beside Chief Knouse, (Rick) Sampsel, John Valbracht for 30 years. John did an exceptionally good job that night." "We have good cooperation with all the city departments," Wright said. "If Barry's (street superintendent Barry Arthur) crew doesn't get out and clear the streets of snow, my department can't go," Wright said. The fire chief also noted that quality starts with the city council and city administrator by providing equipment and training. "My men, Chief Knouse's men... we can only be as good as the equipment and training that you give us to work with," Wright said. "At budget time, it's pretty easy to cut something like equipment. Once you train us, let us be competitive. I need to keep them together as a team. Pay them good, equip them good."

Council Approves Purchase of Golf Course Equipment
Feb. 24, 2015

The city-owned Green Hills Golf Course will receive $253,715 in new groundskeeping equipment to replace equipment that is between 10 and 17 years old. Chillicothe City Council members during their regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall noted that the equipment replacement is long overdue and that some should have been replaced in previous years so as not to put a financial burden on the city all at once. Second Ward Councilman Wayne Cunningham lobbied for purchasing just a couple pieces of equipment, citing that he did not want to obligate future city councils to the large equipment purchase. He made the motion to table discussions for two weeks until after council members talked with their constituents; however, his motion died for the lack of a second, and the council proceeded to vote on an ordinance approving the purchase of all the equipment. The measure passed 4-1 with Cunningham casting the dissenting vote. Those voting in favor were Councilman-at-Large David Moore, 1st Ward Councilman Reed Dupy, Third Ward Councilman Tom Douglas and 4th Ward Councilman Paul Howard. The ordinance calls for the purchase of a Cushman heavy duty utility vehicle, two 48-volt, all-electric greens mowers; two gas-powered reel mowers to serve as tee and approach units, two diesel-powered reel mowers to serve as fairway units, and one large area rotary mower to serve as a rough unit for the golf course. The bid was accepted from Kansas Golf and Turf. The issue of new golf course equipment was discussed at length during the council's meeting two weeks ago and again during a workshop just prior to Monday night's meeting. Rather than leasing the equipment, an idea that was proposed at the previous meeting, council members agreed that the money should be borrowed from the city's capital improvements fund. That fund's balance currently is $988,887. By purchasing the equipment, the city won't need to pay interest to an outside company. Golf Course Manager Craig Sager told the council members that the purchase would be a substantial investment in the golf course but said it is necessary. "(The current equipment) is not only aging, but it hinders what we can do day in and day out," he said. "There are a couple pieces that just aren't safe."

Cunningham indicated there were other financial needs in the community. "I have people in my ward who need storm sewers," he said. "When it rains, they get water in their garages, in their houses, in their basements. They need curbs on their streets." Cunningham said he had viewed the course's existing equipment. "Some of it is beyond repair," he said. "Some of it can be repaired." He noted that the city is subsidizing the golf course this year in the area of $175,000. "If we approve all of this equipment, that is going to be an additional obligation of $250,000," he said. "The idea is to pull the money out of the capital improvements fund and loan it to the golf course; but, how is the golf course going to be able to pay it back? I would like to see us buy some equipment and repair part of the equipment. If we do this, we are going to obligate $50,000 to $60,000 every year for five years to make a payment on golf course equipment. I don't feel it is fair to anyone else elected to this position to obligate them for five years on down the line, especially for this equipment that not everybody is going to use."

Douglas stated that the community supports the golf course. "When the golf course got into trouble to begin with, we brought it to the people," he recalled. "Overwhelmingly, they voted to buy the golf course. Later on, we brought it to them to see if we could use the capital improvements fund to pay the golf course off. Overwhelmingly, they got behind it." "This golf course had started to run down for a lot of years," Douglas added. "If we don't buy this equipment, we're going to lose rounds, and if we lose rounds, that will put us deeper in debt."

Moore, who also serves as the city's finance chairman, acknowledges that the equipment would be a large purchase. "One of the ideas was to use the money from the capital improvements fund," Moore said. "Instead of doing a lease with the company that would involve us paying interest, we would loan money from the capital improvements fund that has funds to make the purchase, and then make the golf course make its payments back to the capital improvements fund so we don't have to pay interest to an outside company. "I do believe some of blame is on the council, previous councils, maybe even previous management of the golf course," Moore said. "I'm not sure why this equipment is so old."

Councilman Dupy was in favor of the equipment purchase, noting that the golf course is part of the recreational package of the community. "Not everybody uses all the baseball parks, the swimming pool... but, it all goes together, although not everybody uses every piece of that pie," he said.

City Purchases Street Sweeper, Dump Truck
February 25, 2015

Chillicothe City Council members on Monday unanimously approved the purchase of nearly $255,000 in equipment for the street department. Ordinances were passed during the council's regular meeting in the council chambers at City Hall. Items approved, as recommended by Chillicothe Street Superintendent Barry Arthur, were a dump truck from Summit Truck Group in the amount of $117,422 and a new street sweeper from Elliott Equipment Company in the amount of $137,316. Street Superintendent Barry Arthur recommended both purchases. The dump truck approved for purchase is a 2016 International 7400 Workstar dump truck and will come with a plow and spreader. The truck replaces a 1996 Chevrolet 2-ton dump truck. The department has five dump trucks that are single-axel dump trucks, and five one-tone dump trucks. Several bids were submitted for the street sweeper, and Arthur recommended purchasing a 2016 Schwarze A7 Tornado. This item has a 350-gallon water tank and a much larger hopper than the city's current sweeper. The current sweeper, a 2010 Schwarze A4000, will be used as a trade-in and is valued at $52,500. The current sweeper is small and is considered a parking lot sweeper, Arthur stated, and crews typically go over an area two or three times to get the street clean. The hopper is 3.3 cubic yards and crews oftentimes will dump the hopper five times during a normal eight-hour shift. The hopper on the new sweeper is 8.4 cubic yards. There are 160 miles of streets that are cleaned by the city.

Council Enacts Compression Brakes Ordinance
February 25, 2015

Traffic in town should become a little quieter once an ordinance goes into effect restricting the use of loud compression brakes within the city limits. Chillicothe City Council members unanimously approved the ordinance during their regular meeting Monday evening in the council chambers at City Hall. The ordinance is expected to go into effect soon, and signs will be posted at each of the four entrances into Chillicothe.

Compression brakes are equipped on big trucks and tractor trailer units. When used, they create a loud noise and a vibration that, sometimes, is capable of breaking glass. Ordinances such as this are fairly common in communities across the United States, said City Administrator Ike Holland. "The brakes create an unnecessary noise in residential areas that disturb the community," he said.

The city council had discussed such an ordinance over the course of a couple of years. The ordinance passed Monday states that its purpose is to prohibit the excessive, loud, unusual or explosive use of engine and compressed air-braking devices within the city. The brakes are often referred to as Dynamic Brake, Jake Brake, Jacobs Brake, C-Brake, Paccar Brake. Trucks carrying heavy loads probably use the compression brakes the most; however, if truck drivers stay within the speed limit, or perhaps travel a little slower than the speed limit, they should not have to use compression brakes, Holland said.

The ordinance passed on Monday also establishes a penalty for violations at a fine not to exceed $500, or imprisonment not to exceed six months. Signs stating "Vehicle Noise Laws Enforced" or "Engine Brake Ordinance Enforced" will be placed near the city limit signs on U.S. Highway 65 (north and south), on Route 190, and on Highway V to advise motorists of the prohibitions contained in the ordinance.

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