Motley City Council on board for community celebration

Differing opinions regarding city attorney choice voiced at meeting

At their first regular meeting of the new year held  Jan. 11, the Motley City Council heard an update on a potential community celebration this summer coordinated by the Staples Motley Area Chamber of Commerce (SMACC), decided to continue with Rinke Noonan as the city’s attorney; and made a number of decisions pertaining to city business. 

Community celebration

Barb Cline, the SMACC’s Executive Director, spoke to the council about the plans that have begun in regard to a community celebration in Motley. Two meetings have already taken place, with 17 people attending the first one. “There was a great deal of excitement (about the celebration),” Cline said.

The event has been tentatively scheduled to take place at the same time as the Motley Fair, which is June 16 - 19. Activities under consideration include pig races, fireworks, parade, music, vendors, car show and more.  She anticipates the event costing approximately $10,000, most of which the chamber hopes will be paid through sponsorships and vendor fees.

Cline said that before they go any further in their planning, the chamber wanted to ask for approval and support from the city council.

Mayor Nancy Nieken asked if she was looking for financial assistance.

Cline said that the chamber did not ask the City of Staples for money to help finance Railroad Days. They did, however, receive in-kind services, which she hoped would be the case for the Motley Community Celebration as well. 

Feedback from the council concerning the potential event was positive. Police Chief Ron Smith said he would be glad to help, as did public works supervisor Bruce Brotherton. Council member Al Yoder said, “It sounds like a great idea;” and council member Amy Hutchison said she felt the city should offer in-kind services. Council member Pat O’Regan said he was supportive, but felt the city needed more specifics.

Cline, who is a Motley native, said she is also hoping to strengthen the connection between the chamber and the City of Motley. At present, there are only five chamber members from Motley and she’s hoping to see that change. “This is Motley’s chamber, too,” she said.

Cline noted that Bruce Brotherton was recently named to the SMACC board. “He will be a good spokesperson for the Motley area,” she said. 

City attorney

After some discussion, the council decided to continue with Rinke Noonan as the city’s attorney until the union labor negotiations have been finalized. 

It was not a unanimous decision.

Council member Steve Johnson felt the city should go back to their former attorney Peter Vogel, citing financial reasons. Johnson said that the city had paid Vogel a total of $17,300 during the years of 2004 - 2015. “We paid Rinke Noonan $16,000 in three months,” Johnson said. 

Yoder said that the majority of this expense (from Rinke Roonan) was because of the labor negotiations, which was not a factor when Vogel was city attorney. 

“We also get written opinions from Rinke Noonan, which we never saw from Vogel,” O’Regan said.

Johnson did not agree. “I think they’re ripping us off big-time,” he said.

Fellow council member Hutchison also expressed  concern about finances in this department. “We have a tight budget in 2016,” she said. 

Johnson went on to say that he and Hutchison had not been privy to information about Rinke Noonan until the very day they were supposed to vote on whether or not to name them as city attorney.

Yoder said that the hiring committee had spent a lot of time researching attorneys. “That’s why you have a hiring committee...that’s what they do,” Yoder added, going on to say that the council needs to trust that they have done their job. “Maybe I need to be on that committee,” Hutchison said.

Council member O’Regan said he would like to “stay where we are until the labor negotiations are done.”

Johnson also stated that”I’m picking on the numbers, not the people.”

At the end of the council meeting, Johnson stood up, walked to where Yoder was sitting and initiated a handshake. Yoder shook his hand and said, “We need to work together.”

In other matters the council:

o APPROVED the renewal of existing tobacco licenses for the following businesses: Orton’s Motley BP, Motley Express, H & R Ten Hi, Bremer’s Bar, Northwind Grocery, Motley Discount Liquor, BRICKS Travel Center, Y Knot Package Liquor.

o NAMED all local banking institutions and the 4-M Fund as the city’s official depository for 2016.

o NAMED the Morrison County Record the city’s official newspaper for 2016.

o APPROVED the following council appointments for 2016: Pat O’Regan, Acting Mayor; Nancy Nieken, Street Commissioner and Emergency Management Director; Steve Johnson, Assistant Weed Inspector.

o APPROVED authorizing signatures for checking and investment accounts from the Clerk/Treasurer, Mayor, Acting Mayor and one council member for 2016. 

o APPROVED having Clerk/Treasurer Terri Smith as the responsible authority; and having EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) authorization from the Clerk/Treasurer.

o ADOPTED a liaison policy, with the following council members serving as liaisons to the noted department heads. Al Yoder, police department; Amy Hutchison city office; Pat O’Regan, maintenance department; and Steve Johnson, fire department.

o APPROVED Police Chief Ron Smith’s request to attend the MN Chiefs of Police Conference in St. Cloud April 18 - 20; and to join the Chief’s Association. 

o APPROVED sending Utilities Supervisor Bruce Brotherton to the MRWA (Minnesota Rural Water Association) annual conference in St. Cloud March 1 - 3.

o TABLED sending Terri Smith, Clerk/Treasurer, to the annual MCFOA (Minnesota Clerks & Finance Officers Association) Conference March 15 - 18, in St. Cloud. O’Regan said he felt the expense was not justified, as Smith had said she was quitting soon. Johnson said that she would be there for another year. Hutchison added, “I’m sure there’s a lot of benefit to her going to this,” and said she would like to hear Smith’s opinion before making a decision.

o HEARD from city resident Bob Jenkins, who would like to see some sort of audio device set up at city hall for the hearing impaired. Jenkins said when he attends council meetings, he has a hard time hearing what is being said.

 

Staples World

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