City council puts farm to table again
For a second time, Holyoke City Council members tabled a proposed ordinance Oct. 6 that would prohibit the keeping of livestock within the city limits. This time, it was tabled indefinitely until council members could gather more information.
“It will come back again, but we don’t know when,” Mayor Orville Tonsing said. “We’re not going to put a date on it.”
Council hears comments from visitors
Over 30 visitors attended the meeting, many of whom were present to show their opposition to the proposed livestock ordinance.
Tonsing acknowledged that some may have been present under misinformation.
“It’s been on Facebook that this is the second reading of the ordinance, and this is not true,” he said. “It’s on the agenda as unfinished business. It was discussed and tabled.”
Hannah Goodman, candidate for Holyoke City Council, spoke in opposition to the ordinance.
“I apologize for the misinformation. I was wrong,” she said. “I was under the impression it was the second reading.”
Goodman went on to characterize the ordinance as a gross overreach of individual and property rights.
“I propose that the council come up with a better ordinance than what is written,” she continued, “one that promotes common sense and takes into account each of the different zones in town.”
Eight additional community members spoke in opposition to the ordinance, including two students, Isaiah Rueter and Aubrey Bieber, as well as Clela Meusborn, Jill Anderson, Jennifer Hayes, Yolanda Wittman, Jerry Cooper and Dorothy Skinner.
Both Rueter and Bieber raise poultry, and they emphasized the values that the pursuit has taught them: responsibility, hard work, citizenship, competition and humane treatment of animals.
Others noted that raising their livestock provides them with the exact knowledge of where their food comes from, an important factor to many visitors who indicated food allergies were part of their lives or the lives of their family members.
Visitors also pointed out that raising livestock in town has allowed them to help neighbors in need.
“When COVID hit and the grocery store did not have any eggs, I did,” Hayes said. “I was able to provide five other families with food from my chickens.”
Wittman echoed those sentiments. “It’s a small town. Everybody helps everybody. If we keep it contained and clean, that should be the important thing.”
Cooper acknowledged he has no livestock, but his concern was that this ordinance would make Holyoke look like the Front Range, where he came from to become a part of a community where things would be done differently.
Skinner brought another reason for keeping livestock in town to council members’ attention. She keeps a goat in her backyard as her emotional support animal.
Council member Brian Akey discussed allowing exceptions for emotional support animals as long as they’re registered and have documented approval by a doctor.
“I was a 4-H kid. These kids have projects,” Akey continued, saying he agreed with Rueter and Bieber. “There probably needs to be a limit on what you keep and how many you can keep. There needs to be some rules and some regulations, or it’s going to turn into a feed yard, and there’s a lot of us that don’t want that.”
Council hears reports
City Superintendent Mark Brown reported on two power outages. The first occurred at 7 a.m. Sept. 26, in the 500-700 blocks of South Reynolds and Coleman avenues. He told the council that the section of bad cable was disconnected and power was fed from both ends to get power back.
The second outage was at 7 a.m. Sept. 28, in the 100 block of North and 100-400 blocks of South Interocean and Baxter avenues. He noted they are still looking into the cause.
Brown reported that electric crews replaced a power pole at the northwest corner of city hall feeding the line that goes up through the golf course, where several outages due to trees occurred in the spring.
Brown noted that water and sewer crews have pulled quarterly nitrate samples from wells and taken them to Denver to test them against state requirements. Crews have also started the annual sewer rodding program.
Additionally, Brown reported on a water leak on Hale Street and County Road 41. He also pointed out that there have been instances of vandalism of the drinking fountains at City Park.
Regarding the street department, Brown reported that crews have completed some alley repairs in the 500 block of East Gordon Street, north of the high school, and crews are now working on repairing potholes and street signs and were scheduled to start painting parking lines downtown Wednesday, Oct. 7.
Brown noted that Josh Skelton of Dickinson Land Surveyors has created a topography map of the small softball field to start putting a plan together for drainage and adding red clay to the field.
Brown informed council members that the fog seal and repaint project at the airport has been completed.
City Clerk/Treasurer Kathy Olofson reported that the current year’s gross total assessed value has been received in the amount of $17,321,030. When calculated out with 21.8 mills, this comes to $377,598.54, which is an increase of $95 over last year. The final assessed value will be distributed Dec. 1.
Olofson said the third-quarter conservation trust fund lottery proceeds in the amount of $6,067.82 have been received. She also submitted the Energy/Mineral Impact Assistance Fund grant application for the new fire shed Oct. 1.
Olofson presented council members with the first draft of the 2021 budget, which by ordinance must be done prior to Oct. 15. Olofson said she expected to have the books done for September by the end of the week, which would provide the needed information to begin the process with greater detail.
Police Chief Doug Bergstrom reported that Holyoke Police Department handled or generated 116 calls for service from Sept. 10-30, including 10 animal complaints and one municipal code violation under code enforcement.
City Attorney Al Wall reported that he hopes to have an ordinance regarding property on the west side of town by next meeting.
The intersection of Walsh Avenue and Johnson Street was deeded to the city, and the city must now go through the process of annexing it and dedicating it as a public right-of-way.
Recreation director Victoria Dunker reported flag football has just ended.
She said 36 children participated, and she expressed her gratitude to the three coaches for their help. She also thanked JR/SR high principal Angie Powell and athletic director John Baumgartner for the use of the football fields.
She went on to report that she is in the early stages of meeting with a design team to look at the recreation facilities in town and will be meeting with Olofson at the end of the month to go over the budget.
In other business at the Oct. 6 meeting, council members:
— Approved the purchase of equipment from DBT Transportation Services for $625 plus a $725 annual maintenance fee on top of the regular maintenance costs of the automated weather observation system, for an annual cost of $5,025. All maintenance and repair costs of AWOS will be reimbursed up to 90%, up to a maximum of $10,000 per year.
— Accepted the resignation of Arley Krueger, who plans to retire in November.
— Set wages for Matthew Winterrowd Jr. and Lance Talich, new hires in the refuse and street departments, respectively.
— Approved the hiring of lifeguards Ethan Schneller, Jaxson Hutches, Josie Schlachter, Summer Martin, Erin Andersen, Aly Lock and Sabryn Burris.
— Approved the liquor license renewals for Hometown Liquor LLC and KS Plus Inc., dba Kwik Stop.
— Renewed the lease for Ron Koch of Ron’s.