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Cherokee Village council debates issues, passes alcohol ordinance

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Photo/Cindy Harris Newly elected Planning and Zoning Committee Chairman, Bob Bickle, addressing Cherokee Village City Council at the Feb. 28 monthly meeting. [Order this photo]
Some lively debates arose on several issues at the Thursday, Feb. 28 Cherokee Village City Council meeting, beginning with a letter from resident Ray Torbit who objected to the plan to move the city recycling site from the Town Center to the former Farmer's Market location on Tekakwitha Street. He said that he felt the current recycling location is more convenient for regular use, and he does not believe the Town Center will be a better place for Farmer's Market vendors conveniently display and sell their wares.

Councilwoman Linda O'Neal responded that she believes the Town Center location will be a good space for Farmer's Market participants and customers. Councilwoman Pamela Rowland agreed with O'Neal, saying there are many parking spaces across the street at Papoose Park where vendors can park and participate by selling their products out of the back of their trucks. The Farmer's Market will open on Memorial Day Weekend, May 25, 26 and 27, and will be open every weekend (Friday and Saturday, hours to be announced later) until produce is no longer available.

Rowland added that there is a plan to get more volunteers involved in the recycling effort and that there is a move to get the youth involved. She feels that moving the recycling program to the Tekakwitha location allows for more room to accommodate the anticipated growth in volunteers.

Farmer's Market founder Jerry Adams, who is also a council member, said swapping recycling and market sites is part of the effort to revitalize the Town Center, by having more events at the center, including cultural events, which will draw more residents and outside visitors to help promote Cherokee Village. Adams added that anyone who is interested in volunteering for the Farmer's Market, Town Center events or the recycling program can contact him at (870) 847-6422 or email him at ziggyadams2011@hotmail.com.

Mayor Lloyd Hefley presented his State of the City address highlighting 2012 achievements, including passing a rental ordinance, starting construction on the Nature Trail, which is now 35 percent complete,voting to authorize alcohol sales in Sharp County and overseeing a 2012 budget that finished the year in the black.

During the meeting, a heated discussion arose between Councilman Tom Thone and City Planning Director Glenn Harris over a new security fence being built at the Animal Shelter. Thone objected to city money being spent on the building of the fence. Harris explained that the six foot-high $8,000 fence is being built using part of a $22,500 gift left to the shelter by a recently deceased resident. According to Harris, the old fence was not secure, allowing dogs to escape, which is a violation of city regulations.

Thone and Harris clashed again over the subject of remodeling the current break room at city hall. Thone said that he disagreed with the renovations and moved that the council vote against it. The motion was seconded. Planning and Zoning Department Head, Glenn Harris, was asked to address the council and, at one point, told Thone, who was interrupting him, to "shut up and let me explain." Harris said the Mayor suggested dividing the existing break room by placing a wall in the center -- moving the District Court Clerk to one side and a part-time worker on the other side. Harris said the move would put the Court Clerk closer to the Police Department and she could cross-train to assist the Police Department Assistant. The second office would be set up to support administration of the Rental Ordinance, which goes into effect May 1.

Mayor Hefley added the current location of the break room is disruptive to him, since it is next door to his office, and others trying to work in the building, because it is a place where people gather for conversation. Hefley believes moving the break room to a more remote part of the building will create a more professional environment for city hall.

Former councilman Peter Martin told the council its vote against the break room move expresses the council's disapproval of the Mayor's plans, but the mayor has the right to spend some money in the budget as he sees fit.

Thone also asked the Mayour about a "rumor" that he had hired or planned to hire a secretary. The Mayor said the rumor was not true, and there was no money in the budget for such a hire.

The council unanimously approved an ordinance, "Establishing Regulations, Requirements, Restrictions, Fees and Taxes for Alchoholic Beverages," and the council gave Harris permission to give a small raise to one of his Planning Department employees that he had inadvertently left out of his budget.

Bob Bickle, newly elected Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Committee, reported on the progress being made on cleaning up burned out houses in Cherokee Village. To date, four of lots have been razed and cleaned. There are an additional 11 properties on the list to be cleaned up, and seven or eight of those are burn outs. The council congratulated him on the progress and a job well done.

The next meeting of the Cherokee Village City Council will be on Thursday, March 14 at 6:30 p.m. at city hall.

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