Police to get 5th officer

    Following months of deliberation, Holyoke City Council was divided on the issue of hiring a fifth police officer. As of the Nov. 7 meeting, the department has the go-ahead to begin the search for its newest employee.
    Mayor Orville Tonsing and council member Gene Bittner voted in opposition, but backing by council members Scott Murray, Steve Moore, Kevin Scott, John Schneider and Brian Akey prevailed.
    Moore began Tuesday’s discussion saying that he thinks hiring a fifth officer is a good idea but that discussion of expanding the office space should be suspended for at least a year if they go forward with the new hire.
    Bittner weighed in with the view that additional space should be prioritized before an additional officer. He suggested that traffic cameras near the schools might lighten the department’s patrolling duties in that area.
    Though Murray agreed that a flashing light on Johnson Street might help with traffic near the school, he spoke in favor of hiring another officer.
    “As much overtime as these guys put in, I think they need the fifth,” agreed Scott.
    “I say office space is more important than the cop,” Bittner countered.
    Tonsing cited code enforcement as his biggest concern. He wondered whether money would be better spent hiring the fifth officer or a full-time code enforcement officer. He observed that parking and junk in people’s yards is getting worse and that downtown traffic is too dangerous.
    Scott asked whether a new officer could be tasked with code enforcement. Police Chief Doug Bergstrom assured council members that regardless of the vote, the department would make a double effort to address the areas of concern. The motion to hire a fifth officer passed 5-2.
    
Additional rec department cooking classes added
    Also at Tuesday’s meeting, recreation director Victoria Timm reported that the Nov. 12 and 19 cooking classes at Ballyneal were at capacity, so Dec. 3 and 10 dates were added. All four dates are now full. The plate decorating class with Prairie Winds Art Center is tentatively set for Dec. 17, and the 3-on-3 basketball tournament with the Dragon Booster Club is set for Jan. 15, 2018, for grades 1-8.
    Women’s volleyball wrapped up with all six teams competing in the final tournament. Timm noted the Nuggets Skills Challenge is still being worked out, probably for a Saturday night in January.
    
Officials report
    City Superintendent Mark Brown reported the concrete work on West Kunkel Street is complete. The electric department installed new electric service at 842 S. Worley Ave., disconnected power at the fairgrounds for recent demolition and has started getting Christmas lights ready.
    The water and sewer department has been blowing out sprinkler systems for winter, and the street department has kept busy picking up leaves. All departments have been working at the pool, where a heater broke down and the basement flooded. Brown noted the pool would be closed until repairs are made.
    Brown also received a contract from Western Area Power to extend the current contract that ends in 2024. He will be sending it on to Nebraska Municipal Power Pool.
    Bergstrom reported that Holyoke Police Department handled or generated 438 calls for service from Oct. 12-Nov. 1. An incident of counterfeit bills accounted for approximately 100 of those calls. Including code enforcement, HPD made two arrests, wrote 27 citations and eight reports, and gave out 49 warnings. Code enforcement handled three animal complaints, one dog at large and five ordinance violations.
    
Other business

    In other business at the Nov. 7 meeting, the council:
    —Set a public hearing for a new liquor license application from Happy Jacks Barbeque for Tuesday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m.
    —Heard community member concern, reported by council member Kevin Scott, about the proximity of the proposed fire hall site to CHS Grainland and Family Dollar.
    —Approved a memorandum of understanding with Colorado Department of Transportation regarding snow and ice removal on highways 6 and 385 within city limits.
    —Accepted a bid from Municode for double column recodification at $9,450.
    —Renewed the volunteer accident medical plan and community service worker’s accident medical plan with Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency.
    —Accepted the 2018 renewal quote for equipment breakdown insurance from CIRSA at $894.27.
    —Renewed the liquor license for K S Plus Inc., Kwik Stop.
    —Approved a special events permit for Melissa Memorial Hospital on Dec. 2.
    —Appointed Judy Beavers to another three-year term on the cemetery board.
    —Made an additional donation to the Phillips County Historical Society to subsidize 2017 utilities.
    —Heard a committee report that a variance had been passed for K.C. Martin on Nov. 6.
    —Held a 31-minute executive session to determine positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations.
    —Held a budget work session following adjournment.

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