CASPIAN—City commissioners here rejected proposed changes to the West Iron District Library’s organizational plan during their meeting Nov. 6.
Most commissioners who spoke said they want to keep the power to appoint a city representative to the Library Board every year. The proposed changes would have made appointments four years long—but the city still makes the selection.
It isn’t clear whether Caspian’s rejection will scuttle the plan’s revision, but it certainly won’t do any good, especially since Gaastra has also turned down the plan.
Gaastra Richard Wissell had earlier written Caspian Mayor Gary Sabol, asking Caspian to reject the changes. Gaastra has been making annual appointments, Wissell wrote, and most of the time the same person was reappointed.
But in 2013, Gaastra named someone different. Wissell wrote that the Library Board “did not and has not recognized our appointee” and continues to recognize the 2012 appointee as Gaastra’s representative.
Wissell wrote that if Caspian wants to appoint someone each year or change the city’s representative at any time, “You have that right as the appointing body.”
As City Attorney Steve Polich pointed out during Caspian’s meeting, a Library Board appointment “is often a formality, but it may not be.”
Mayor Gary Sabol said Caspian makes appointments to various boards each year, and the city should be able to change any appointment “at any time.”
“If there’s a change, we want to be able to make that change.”
Sara Basso, the Library Board’s at-large member, explained that Gaastra’s action led to the Library Board trying to clarify how its members are chosen.
Right now, the eight seats on the Library Board end on seven different dates. Under the Library Board’s proposal, two of the board’s eight seats would expire every Dec. 31—the city or township would still chose its representative, but it would be a four-year term. The procedure for choosing the at-large member would also be defined.
“As you know when you are on any committee,” said Basso, “it takes longer than a year to know what is going on. “We wanted to get it all on a rotating system so you don’t have six or seven new board members every year.
The only dispute seemed to be with the annual appointments, but most of the commissioners took a hard line that they want the right to appoint someone new each year “if we want somebody else to be there cause we’re not happy with what that individual is doing,” said Commissioner Mark Stauber.
A lengthy debate among the commissioners, Polich and the Library Board members followed. Nobody’s opinion was changed, and the commissioners unanimously rejected the change.
“Our practice is four years,” said Basso. “We think four years is a good idea. We want to have a regular period and transitional time so we don’t wind up with everybody new on the board.”
• After a public hearing, the commission voted to amend its ordinance on visual obstructions at intersections. The changes take effect after publication.
The original ordinance only affected plantings and structures located along driveways. The amended version adds personal property, vehicles, equipment and machinery to the list and now also applies to vision at any street or alley.
Commissioner Jody Menghini voted against the change. She talked about all the parking near the Aramark building and how parked cars restrict drivers’ vision—that is not covered in the revised ordinance.
“You’ve got to pull out into the road, halfway,” she said. “And I’ve gotten clipped several times almost, coming out of that area.”
• Commissioner Stauber thanked city residents for approving the Community Center millage in the Nov. 5 election.
“It will help keep the place open for a few more years,” he said, “as we keep searching for more grants to try to do some big work with the place. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for the future.”
“I know sometimes it’s a burden on the city,” Sabol said, “but that’s all we have left for the kids.”
• Polich updated the commission about on ongoing problem with a standby generator for the city’s water system. In short: Nothing has changed over the last month.
The problem is with a standby generator that Caspian got during its water project. This generator is supposed switch on automatically and operate the well pump motor in case of a power outage. But it hasn’t been doing the job.
The contractor, subcontractor and engineers have been trying to figure out why. At first, they thought the generator was not big enough, so they brought in larger generators. All of them started the pump motor.
The contractors and engineers left, puzzled. “It worked for approximately a week and then, again, failed,” Polich said.
They now suspect the equipment’s “soft start” system is causing the problem, and contractors have been asked to replace that component.
Polich said the contractor has been responsive in recent months. “Hopefully, they’ll get it solved without us having to jump in and replace the equipment ourselves.” He also noted that a special meeting may be needed to deal with the problem.
• Commissioners voted to allow the MASTERS racing circuit to hold an uphill snowmobile hill climb and uphill drags on the city’s former ski jump and ski hill.
The hill climb will be on Feb. 15, and the uphill drags are set for Feb. 16.
• City Manager John Stokoski said he is checking on a sign for the multi-purpose building, to comply with the terms of the DNR recreation grants that partially paid for its construction. There already is a sign on the building, and Stokoski will send a picture of it to the state. If it is not acceptable, a larger sign will be ordered.