Willett accepts settlement offer

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By Shelia Tomkins

Former City Manager Mary Willett last week accepted a settlement offer approved by the city council at its regular monthly meeting on Monday, Aug. 8. 

Willett resigned at a special council meeting on July 18. The motion to accept her resignation provided for six months of health insurance coverage and four months of salary, with details to be worked out between Willett's attorney and Assistant City Attorney Jim Garrett.

Final details were approved by the council at the Aug. 8 meeting after discussion on a draft of the agreement presented by Attorney Garrett. After discussion on details such as the dollar amount of the severance package and the calculation of vacation pay, the council approved the settlement package with a total value of $26,303. The motion passed on a 4-1 vote with Councilman Steve Friedlein casting the nay vote. Willett, who was not present at the meeting, had until Aug. 4 to respond to the offer, which she subsequently accepted.  

Mayor Russ Loven led council members Austin Greve, Fred Schaub, Virginia Saeugling, Jane Parker and Steve Friedlein through the remainder of the meeting agenda. Also at the council table were Assistant City Manager Jamie Blume and City Attorney Michael Schuster.

Following a presentation by representatives from Star Energy and Clayton-Allamakee REC, the council voted to hire Star Energy, an engineering firm specializing in electric distribution systems, to provide the city with an inspection report on the condition of the system and to make recommendations. The inspection would include an inventory and report on the location of all electric poles, a system map, GPS information and other data. The information would be valuable in dealing with outages as well as in planning for the future. The council also voted to have Star Energy do an arc flash study to analyze potential hazards in the system.

The council approved an agreement with the railroad regarding closing of the Pryam Street railroad crossing, and set the next regular monthly meeting as the date of a public hearing on vacating the crossing.

Discussion was held on having a city council member serve in an advisory capacity on city boards and commissions. Council members volunteered to serve on selected boards: Historic Preservation Commisison (Virginia Saeugling), Park Board (Austin Greve), Rec Board (Jane Parker), Planning and Zoning and Zoning Board of Adjustment (liaison - Steve Friedlein), Cemetery Board (Fred Schaub). 

The council adopted the 2016 Clayton County Multi-Jurisdictional Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan. Sarah Moser, Clayton County Emergency Management director, spoke to the council prior to the vote, and noted that the plan is required by FEMA. She said it will also serve as a valuable tool when applying for grants.  

No action was taken on a park board request to prohibit temporary signs and banners in the park without park board permission. Board member Jim Johnston spoke to the council and said that he had recently counted 18 temporary signs in the park, including some for a commercial business, and said the park board felt that such use needs to be monitored. The possibility of designating an area for such signs was discussed. The council's consensus was to ask the park board to return with recommendations on sign size, placement, and other guidelines.

Jessica Bittner was approved for a full-time position as utility billing clerk. She was hired earlier this year as a part-time city office assistant.

The  council approved a request for a free standing memorial bench in front of River's Edge Bakery on the condition that the bakery give written permission.

In items approved in a single motion as part of the consent agenda, the council accepted the resignation of Mindy Meyer from the Recreation Board and appointed Jennifer Radl to fill the remainder of her term. Street closures were approved for the GermanFest Walk/Run and for St. Mary's Fall Festival.

Police Chief George Morteo and marina manager Jim Zerbe were present to answer any questions on their monthly reports. 

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