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Thanks but, no thanks

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Barton told to stop writing grants for city of Thayer

THAYER -- As of Jan. 9, Thayer Electrical Superintendent Gary Barton will no longer be involved in the grant writing process for the city of Thayer.

During the Thayer City Council meeting last week Thayer Alderman Bob Grimes, who oversees the electrical department for the city, told Barton to stop writing the grant applications.

Grimes said he had heard rumors that Barton is getting paid an administrative fee for the work he has done on the grants. Grimes said this is not true and that none of the grants have a line item for an administrative expense. The alderman said Barton has worked on the grants after hours and on his own time.

The grant process in the city will stop until the board of aldermen can decide who will do the paperwork to continue the grants.

Barton was hired as electrical superintendent on June 15, 1998. He began working on the grants after Oregon County Economic Developer Heather Fisher Wakefield left the position in 2002.

There are currently four grants pending that Barton has been working on. They include the East Meadows sidewalk project, lighting and resurfacing at the airport, the walking trail at Sherwood Park and the sidewalks connecting Shady Oaks to South Sixth Street.

In the past four years Barton has been successful in writing grants totaling over $500,000 for the city. That does not include two grants applied for by Wakefield before she left the position of economic developer. Barton administered the two grants which totaled over $145,000.

Last year Thayer Mayor Allen Deckard proposed Barton be given the title of city manager and the council voted in favor of giving Barton that title. Deckard said one of the reasons he wanted to make Barton city manager was because of his knowledge and work on grants.

The council then learned a fourth class city could not have a city manager and Deckard changed the position to city administrator. The suggestion was tabled by the council and was never voted on. Since that time Barton has served as electrical superintendent and continued writing the grants without extra pay.

During the meeting Grimes said he was getting tired of hearing rumors around town that Barton was getting paid extra money for administering the grants.

Deckard asked Grimes who had made the statements about Barton. Grimes did give a name but addressed Thayer resident Joe Barbee who was at the meeting and asked him why he had called state Rep. Mike Dethrow.

Barbee said he had called Dethrow to seek information on city grants and administrative fees.

Deckard asked the council what they would like to do regarding the grant writing. Grimes responded that he would like to see Barton continue writing the grants but not under the same criticism he is now receiving.

"This will affect the city," Deckard said Jan. 12. He said that the South Central Council of Governments (SCCOG) was in the grant writing business and they could possibly finish the grants that had been started by Barton.

"SCCOG can write grants at no charge to the city, but if a grant is awarded they require a fee to oversee the project," the mayor said. He added that the citizens of the city have been promised projects such as sidewalks and they deserve to have the projects completed.

In other council action, Koshkonong Mayor Bud Adams requested that the city of Thayer allow the city of Koshkonong to take its stray dogs to the Thayer city dog pound.

Adams said in the past a local veterinarian had accepted Koshkonong's stray dogs but is no longer accepting the dogs. Adams said his city has no way to take care of the animals and there are only a few strays each year. The council voted unanimously to accept the animals.

The council approved an ordinance requiring ATVs that are driven on city streets to have taillights and headlights, a muffler and a yellow or orange triangle emblem on the rear of the ATV.

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