By Kayleigh Rahn
Green leaves transforming into hues of gold and crisp mornings can only mean that Halloween is near.
With hopes for few tricks and more treats, Mayor Dan Kleiss, during the City Council meeting Monday, Sept. 23, set Trick-or-Treat hours for 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31.
The council also encouraged the community to attend the annual Tuscola Public Library Halloween Party Monday, Oct. 28 at the Community Building and Downtown Businesses.
In the same realm of city business, the council also gave Sean Conner the green light to collect funds and toys at city intersections Saturday, Nov. 9 for Toys for Tots.
Conner reported that after three years of hosting the program in Douglas County, the campaign received most improved local campaign from the region that includes the greater Midwest area.
He reported to the council that in its first year in 2016 he collected 1,161 toys to serve 151 children; in 2017 his crew collected 2,097 toys for 276 children; and in 2018 he collected 2,246 toys to serve 392 children.
“Our numbers continue to increase which allows us to help kids enjoy the holiday season,” Conner said.
In other business, the council has opted to reject a bid for an upcoming Ervin Park improvement project.
Following several discussions among the consulting engineer, grant writer, and grant administrator, the city council rejected–at the recommendation of city administrator Drew Hoel–the lone bid received for the Ervin Park improvement.
The work is slated to be completed with funding from an Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) $328,000 matching grant through the state. The work will include resurfacing of the park’s basketball and tennis courts along with new lighting on three of the four baseball and softball fields.
However, after initial engineering plans were complete and the bidding process sunset, the city received one bid for the project at $1,111,569.62 – well above the estimated budget of $656,000. Ten contractors had plans in hand, four of whom are considered prime bidders, according to Hoel.
The plan to rebid the project has several key factors working in its favor.
“There was a misunderstanding, apparently, concerning the completion date required by the grant – we have until May 2021, not May 2020,” Hoel reported to the council Monday. “We will also recommend separating major project components and bidding them independently (asphalt, lighting, and fencing).”
Hoel also noted that city crews will complete the demolition and general tasks.
“Given the amount of time we now correctly understand that we have, we believe we can re-package the project components in a manner and a timeline that will be more attractive to prospective bidders,” Hoel said.
In other business, the council adopted four ordinances that wholly updates the city’s building codes.
“Collectively, these adopt the various components and publications that make up what are commonly known as the ‘building codes,’ but which are actually identified separately at several places in our ordinances,” Hoel said.
The four codes include the swimming pool spa code, electric code, fuel gas code, and the fire code.
Building inspector Mike Salmon, who worked through the hundreds of pages of code updates, recently returned from the International Code Council weeklong training and certification. Out of 42 attendees, four passed the training, and Salmon was one of those.
“He is now certified through the International Code Council building inspector,” Hoel said followed by applause from the council.
The ordinances will be active Nov. 1 to allow time for proper publication and notification by the city.
Also Monday night, the council tabled a decision requested by Jack Ledbetter who would like to install a windscreen on the outfield fence of the north softball diamond at Ervin Park. Ledbetter gathered funds for the project and was asking permission to have the screen installed during the spring and summer months. The screen would span the length of the outfield fence and serve as a “batter’s eye” backdrop in center field with Warrior Softball on the ends.
Several council members were in favor of the installation before councilman Tim Hoey suggested the backdrop may block spectators who prefer to sit in the outfield during games, especially during the high school season.
At the direction of Kleiss, the council agreed to table the decision for installation until the next meeting Monday, Oct. 14 to allow time for the council to hear from those who may be affected by the blocked field view.
Finally, within Hoel’s bi-monthly report to the council, he reported that the preliminary and final plats of North Ward Square Estates will be considered by the planning commission at a meeting Thursday, Oct. 3. If approved by the planning commission, the final plat will likely be available for consideration and approval at the Monday, Oct. 14 City Council meeting.
In other business, the council:
• Approved the payment of bills in the amount of $187,622.03
• Approved the August 2019 financial report.
• Approved the minutes from the Sept. 9 meeting.
• Learned Red Barn Veterinary Services and Eddie Boutilier remain on the TIF payment delinquency report.
• Adjourned until the Monday, Oct. 14 meeting at 7:30 p.m.