The gavel, a symbol of the mayor's position, was passed to Earl D. "Buddy" Rogers Thayer's newly elected mayor, at the Thayer City Council meeting April 14.
In a friendly sense of humor, former Mayor Merle Williams, gave Rogers the keys to the city and another key. "I don't know what that one's for," Williams said. Williams also gave Rogers the city cell phone and a bottle of antacid and said, "You'll need it," before passing on the gavel.
Two new aldermen were also sworn in. Robert Freeman and Robert Grimes now serve the alderman positions for Ward One and Ward Two respectively.
"I appreciate the support this evening for the newly elected officials and wish them luck, as well, and smooth sailing," Williams said.
"I want to thank each and every one of you for showing up tonight. I appreciate you. You're welcome anytime that we're here, and I would like the people of the city of Thayer to come (to the city council meetings) to come and get involved in what we're doing," Rogers said. "I'm going to do the best I can with what I have to deal with, and I thank you."
After all results from the municipal elections April 7 were read, the city council certified the election results.
The newly sworn in officials took office that evening and went into a closed session to discuss the reinstatement of Janice Tolar as the city tax collector.
When the new council came back into session, they approved items discussed during the fire department meeting and approved the rezoning of 201 Mammoth Street from residential to commercial.
The Warm Fork Crossing was also discussed at the city council meeting. A representative from Great Rivers Engineering, Rusty Doss, was on hand to present some information about the crossing to the council. "About two years ago, I started working with the city on the crossing down here," Doss said. "Burlington Northern wanted to close the tracks to try to keep access. So, we've gone through over the last couple of years at least three different options (of) varying size, varying cost of what we might do with that crossing -- it's a low water crossing -- to replace what's there with something bigger that gives better access across there. Previous Mayor Williams has been working with Burlington Northern and with MO-DOT at the same time getting funding and so forth together."
Doss said there is a proposal and a cost estimate available for a 50-foot long concrete box culvert that is about four feet high and 20 feet wide. He said the cost of the total project, including testing and engineering, would be about $186,900. He said he believed that Burlington Northern and MO-DOT would contribute to the cost of the project. As to how much they would pay, the representative said he did not know. Doss said construction could begin within two to three months.
Electric rate increases were also discussed during the meeting. According to the city council, the rate will increase by 11 percent and paid to the current electric company until the new electric company comes into the area. Once everything is switched over to the new company, rates will go back to about what they were. The council agreed to the temporary electric rate increase. September will be when the new electric company takes over.
According to Alderman Mike Harber, Entergy is moving out of the area and the Missouri Public Energy Pool (MoPEP) will be taking over.
Mayor Rogers announced that all current hourly paid city employees will be rehired by the new city council.
Aldermen Harber and Freeman had some words concerning the passage of the propositions. "As you all know, Propositions A, B and C passed on our sales tax for the waste water and all that, and I appreciate everybody who supported it," Harber said. "There's a lot of people who worked hard to get it passed, and it's greatly appreciated."
"I want to commend the past aldermen and mayor and (Thayer Police Chief) David Bailey for getting out into the community and really letting people know what this was all about. You guys really did a good job," Freeman said.
The council and members of the public who were present learned that the city will have to replace all of its copper wiring along with the aluminum around the copper. "It's not only the copper, it's the aluminum where there's been numerous breaks in it and repairs and so forth," Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Officer Mark Arnold said. He said about 29 miles worth of wiring will have to be replaced. Arnold said his department is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to try to get an estimate on the cost to replace the wiring.
If the city were to resell the wiring, the cost of what FEMA would reimburse would be lowered by whatever amount the city sold the wiring for, Arnold said.
Speaking of FEMA, Arnold said all volunteer hours and expenses on the two shelters that were opened during the ice storm have been turned in. "There were a lot of volunteer hours, and I would like to personally say -- I have not had the chance to be here for the past few meetings -- but, the folks who had a hand some where, some way, some how, and I know that we will probably forget somebody and please forgive us," Arnold said. "But, the folks of this community, thank you for all the help."
He said the list of notes on hours was three pages long. "It was (a large) amount of hours," Arnold said. "FEMA will reimburse us for those volunteer hours."
Arnold reminded people that FEMA is only reimbursing 75 percent. He said the state is pushing for FEMA to pay for the rest of the ice storm costs. He said, currently, the state doesn't have anything in place to pay the balance. "We don't know what the state of Missouri is going to do at this time," Arnold said. "The governor's office has not said anything. The State Emergency Management office has not said anything. In the past, they (SEMA) had a 10 or 15 percent match."
He said if no one comes foward with the other 25 percent of damage costs, the city will have to pay for it.
As for the ice storm debris pick-up, the council told the public that the city has been able to clear about 20,000 cubic yards of debris. Mayor Rogers said the city will have two more pick-ups. "It (the amount of debris) will be a lot higher by the time they're through with it," Mayor Rogers said.
Alderman Freeman said a notice will be put out about when the third round will be. He said on the second round the city will be picking up large limbs and other large debris in people's yards. He also said crews will not pick up anything piled in the ditch. Piles must be level with the road for them to pick up any debris. He said the third round will be for smaller debris that can be picked up with a rake.
The city is estimating the amount of the clean-up to be $100,000.
The council also accepted all monetary needs for department supplies including the cost to replace pumps, which froze up during the ice storm, for the water department.
The council agreed to renew the Thayer-Mammoth Spring Saddle Club's lease on the riding rink for this year.
The date of the next city council meeting has yet to be announced.