For more than a year, the Chillicothe City Council has dealt with the issue of contracting towing services. That issue may have finally come to an end last night (Monday).
The towing services bid had already been awarded to Chillicothe Truck Repair and Towing at the May 13 meeting of the Council, and the ordinance had already been signed. The council held a public discussion revisiting the towing bids during their regular meeting Monday evening in the Council Chambers at City Hall. Reed Dupy, Councilman 1st Ward, led the discussion by voicing his concerns of the bid process by all involved.
“It wasn’t handled properly by mostly all parties concerned,” Dupy stated. “I think we need to go through the process again because it was poorly handled on a number of reasons.”
The board made their previous decision to utilize the services of Chillicothe Truck Repair and Towing based on the recommendation of Police Chief and Constable Rick Knouse.
At Monday’s meeting, the Council questioned whether the recommendation was fair and balanced to all parties involved. There was concern that the evaluation was made based on a person’s character, rather than the quality of the work.
“I think we need to revisit it because some of the information we were given at the other meeting was maybe not presented right,” said Tom Douglas, Councilman 3rd Ward. “If we were going to have a problem with two of them, we should have been informed before we came into the council.”
Paul Howard, Councilman 4th Ward, echoed Douglas’ statements and added that he would have voted differently if the recommendation the Council received would not have disqualified two of the three bids.
“My concern was that after we got here, like Tom said, we were told that two of them were disqualified,” Howard explained. “I wouldn’t have voted the way I was going to vote, but we were told we only had one choice. That’s not the choice I felt like we should have made at that time.”
Knouse took the stand in defense of his recommendation, stating he made the evaluation based on the quality of service in previous services used by Chillicothe Truck Repair and Towing.
“I feel like my credibility is at stake here,” Knouse said. “I swore an oath to do this job and tell the truth, and that’s what I’ve done. If there’s anyone that has any questions about whether it’s the truth or not, they can feel free to ask me. That’s how I deal. That’s how I do this job.”
Page 2 of 3 - The board opted not to discuss personnel matters in the open session.
Chris Peery, of Peery Tow and Repair and one of the bidders for the towing contract, informed the Council of his bid withdrawal Monday evening. Peery called the current Council one of the best he’s seen during his time living in Chillicothe, but said he doesn’t want to do business with someone who doesn’t want to do business with him.
“We have never done anything wrong,” Peery said. “We have a spotless reputation, and we felt like we were singled out. Some statements were made to make the bid go one direction. That’s just my opinion. All I want is for the statements to be rescinded and for our name to be cleared.
With that, discussion ceased. The contract for the towing service, awarded to Chillicothe Truck Repair and Towing, was scheduled to be signed this morning (Tuesday).
The hiring of a new, full-time 911 dispatcher was up for discussion at Monday’s meeting. City Administrator Ike Holland said when the city took over 911 dispatch service, the plan was to start with five dispatchers and assess whether to add or subtract dispatchers at a later time. Holland, with recommendation from Cindy [Hanavan], a longtime dispatcher with the Chillicothe Police Department, said the need is most certainly there.
“We’re at a point where we have to make a choice,” Holland said. “We can continue to have Cindy work 70-80 hour work-weeks — a lady that’s been here 25 years and is the heart and soul of that building. When someone like that comes to me and says they need help, I listen.”
The Council voted 5-0 to approve the hiring of a new dispatcher at a cost of around $33,000 with benefits. This would be a split cost between Livingston County and the city of Chillicothe, with the city’s contribution estimated at $21,000 per year.
Chilli Bay Waterpark was another hot topic at Monday’s meeting. The Council commended Ike Holland and Josh Norris, Parks and Recreation Director, for their countless hours worked in opening the park. Mayor Chuck Haney said he visited the park during the opening weekend festivities June 7-9 and was very pleased with the positive reactions from park visitors.
Haney presented the Chillicothe Parks and Recreation Department with the 2013 Main Street Chillicothe Design Award. Haney said members of the Main Street program have been impressed at what the Parks Department has done to revitalize the city’s parks, as well as the downtown area.
“(Main Street Chillicothe) noted how great of a job the city and the Parks Department has done with Silver Moon Plaza, all of our other parks and some other things they take care of,” Haney said. “Nothing but excellent comments and reports about not only our Parks Department, but our parks system and talking about Chili Bay.”
Page 3 of 3 - As he accepted the award, Norris said any work the Parks Department completes is truly a group effort.
“It makes my job very easy because I have a very, very good crew that’s willing to work every single day,” Norris said. “They’re very knowledgeable. To have a crew that is so good makes me feel comfortable knowing that they can go out and do the tasks that they’re assigned.”
Norma Shoop made an appearance in front of the Council to discuss the safety factors of motorized wheelchairs and scooters on city streets. Shoop said she had contacted the Missouri Highway Patrol regarding the legality of these low-speed forms of transportation on the streets. Shoop said the Highway Patrol informed her that there is no law regarding the use of wheelchairs and scooters on city streets other than these means of transportation cannot be used on major highways and cannot interrupt the flow of traffic. Shoop said it was her opinion that these wheelchairs and scooters are interrupting the flow of traffic.
“They don’t pay attention to the traffic,” Shoop stated. “You get behind them, and they may just jog out in front of you across the street. You don’t know what they’re going to do. I have concerns for their safety, as well as mine.”
Attorney Robert Cowherd said there is currently no city ordinance regarding motorized wheelchairs and scooters on city streets. The Council told Shoop they would conduct research into the matter with the Missouri Municipal League to see how other communities in the state are handling similar situations. More on this issue is to be discussed at a later date.
The board voted 5-0 to approve the purchase of a 2014 Diamond International dump truck. Street Commissioner Barry Arthur said this new truck will replace an older 1996 truck that is “not in good shape.” This brand new truck comes at a cost of $102,777.
The board also voted 5-0 to approve a conditional use permit for an adult daycare. The proposed daycare center would be located at 1115 2nd Street, housed in the former Clemens Greenhouse building. Geraldine Taylor, a co-applicant of the permit and business owner wanting to start the adult day care, said the daycare would serve as a safe and welcoming place for caregivers to take their aging family members periodically rather than a permanent nursing home or manor.