2 police recovering from injuries

During the March 7 Holyoke City Council meeting, Police Chief Doug Bergstrom updated the council on police injured in an assault the week before.
    At the time of the meeting, Sgt. Mark Werts and Officer Mary Seeley remained off duty as they recovered from injuries and waited to be medically cleared to work again.
    According to Bergstrom, Werts returned to work March 10, and Seeley is expected to return to light duty March 18 and full duty March 25, pending medical clearance.  
    Their injuries were sustained March 4 when they responded to a disturbance that resulted in an arrest for assault and the two officers being transported to the hospital. Officer Joseph Marcum and the Phillips County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the scene. Marcum had minor injuries but is still able to work.
    Remaining police worked with other local agencies at the emergency operations center Tuesday, March 7, in response to the wildfire. Marcum reported that the department spent time communicating with citizens through social media to dispel rumors and distribute information about the fire. Over 14,000 people were reached via their Facebook announcements.
    Curb and gutter to be replaced
    As the meeting continued, City Superintendent Mark Brown pointed out that the existing 80 feet of curb and gutter in the 400 block of South Wynona Avenue is crooked. As construction continues down that block, new curb and gutter will continue as well.
    Brown noted that if the problem isn’t fixed, it will cause the whole street to bow. Since the work was done long ago, and the home there has changed ownership numerous times, Brown considers it to be the City’s responsibility to correct the problem.
    Rojo Construction has submitted a bid for $2,400 to the City to tear out the existing curb and gutter and replace it. In discussion, Brown mentioned that the City has, in the past, paid a rate of $24 per foot to install curb and gutter, without removing existing work. The council accepted the bid.
    Officials report

    Brown reported one power outage since the last meeting. The outage was in the 100 block of East Denver Street Monday, March 6, caused by high winds. They were able to get power back up by 5:30 p.m. and put spacers on the lines, but there is more work required to prevent future problems from the wind.
    Pole inspections are in progress, and so far, nine poles have been found that need replaced.
    The water and sewer department has been working on dismantling the old ballpark bathrooms and doing maintenance to get the alfalfa sprinkler system ready for spring. The street crew has been busy picking up branches that have fallen in the wind, and they continue crack filling.
    Bergstrom reported that during the Feb. 16-March 1 period, the police department handled or generated 143 calls for service. They wrote eight citations and three reports and gave out 25 warnings. Of that, code enforcement handled one animal complaint, two dogs at large and 10 ordinance violations.
    City Clerk/Treasurer Kathy Olofson reported that the 2106 franchise fees from Black Hills Energy came in at $13,2019.58. Additionally, all three hotels have now paid the lodging tax that voters approved in November, and the total for the month of January is $1,604.36.
    Olofson explained that the 2016 audit dates have changed, so Scott Szabo will now be conducting it March 13-17.
    City Attorney Al Wall shared that there is an outfit doing numerous open records requests from municipal courts, and he will let the council know if it comes up for Holyoke.
    Wall also noted that he has yet to find any neighboring towns that have ordinances to close the city park at night. He was looking to find something similar to what the City would like to enforce, and he and Bergstrom will continue to search for such an ordinance.
    Recreation Director Victoria Timm introduced herself to the council at her first meeting since being hired. Timm has been working with Olofson and Tillie Fisbeck on a budget for the new program.
    She added that she met with the Yuma rec director to discuss their program and had some ideas she’d like to adopt, such as a single form and fee for students to submit one time for all the recreation activities in a given year and a single liability form that would encompass all of the programs. In keeping with other rec programs’ existing policies, Timm also suggested coaches be paid a salary instead of an hourly wage.
    Timm will be shadowing Summer Maloney to study the soccer program and evaluate whether it will be beneficial to the city to take over that program in the future. She was to meet with the recreation advisory committee Wednesday, March 15.
    Other business
    In other business at the Tuesday meeting, Holyoke City Council:
    —denied a request for commercial sewer rate adjustment from the Phillips County Historical Society.
    —renewed a liquor license for Holyoke Hotel LLC, Cobblestone Inn and Suites.
    —voted to place an advertisement including the new rec director information in Explore magazine.

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