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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Alton City Council bids farewell to mayor

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tom Young, Steven Crigler and Tony Roberts take the oath of office in Alton. Photo by Linda Greer [Order this photo]
After conducting routine business Monday, April 9, Alton aldermen and visitors thanked long-serving Mayor Richard Haigwood for the 16 years he gave to city leadership.

Haigwood did not seek re-election. He served on the board the past 12 years, also serving two terms in the 1990s.

"I appreciated working with the city," Haigwood said after taking a seat in the audience.

Mayor Steven Crigler, a former alderman, defeated challenger James Hollis in a landslide victory last week. Crigler thanked Haigwood for his leadership and said he expects to be calling on Haigwood often in the coming weeks as he adjusts to his new role.

"Richard (Haigwood) has done a lot for the city," Crigler said at the close of the meeting. "In a way, it's sad to see him go."

From the audience, Alton Bank President Randall Combs also praised Haigwood's dedication to community issues.

"I've always seen him do what's best for the city," Combs said, adding that the entire board in recent years has not had personal agendas, but has worked for Alton as a whole. "That's something you don't see often in a small town."

The board met in regular session for an hour before going into a nearly two-hour closed session.

During open session, Combs told the board about two possibilities for community growth, although he said he could not reveal information yet about one prospective business venture. The other issue concerns potential annexation north of town, Combs said.

"Some of you may not be aware that there are areas outside of town that could use sewer," Combs told the board.

Combs cited as an example one homeowner who recently spent $15,000 for a septic system upgrade. Several properties on the northern edge of town face similar problems with sewage, he said.

Combs came to the board to learn if the city would consider offering annexation to property owners who want to tie into city sewer lines.

"It could produce extra revenue for the city," Combs said, adding that he understands the city would need grants to afford to extend sewer lines.

Haigwood said the current wastewater treatment plant could accommodate the extra load, although more pump stations would be needed. The city would also have to consider ordinances regarding livestock in city limits as the city grows.

"We also need to think about cost," Alderman Tom Young said. "If it's financially feasible, I have no problem with it, but every time we looked at it, we couldn't do it."

Haigwood said the first step is for the city to have a feasibility study done, possibly through the South Central Ozark Council of Governments.

The board approved having City Clerk Amy Harrington contact SCOCOG to learn of possible grants for sewer expansion and other requirements for voluntary annexation.

In other business

* The board voted to no longer allow the police department to unlock vehicles as a courtesy to residents because of liability issues.

*The board approved repairing at least one leaky fire hydrant and investigating costs of replacement hydrants and parts.

* The board discussed making lists for future consideraton of streets to be repaired and sealed this summer.

*The board discussed the status of grants to build a fire station that would allow trucks to be parked inside during winter. Trucks are now parked outside and cannot be filled with water during freezing temperatures. Young said Springfield recently got a grant for its fire station, possibly through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Board members agreed grant possibilities should be researched. "We've definitely got the need," Young said.

*The board agreed that before asking other organizations, the city will ask Fire Chief Eddie Johnson if the fire department wants to host the annual fireworks display as a department fundraiser.

Next meeting

Oregon County Sheriff George Underwood also attended the meeting to congratulate Crigler on his election as mayor. Results of the closed session were unavailable at press time. The board meets at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at City Hall.

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