By Dennis Minich
The reins of power in Harrisonville officially changed hands Monday night as Judy Bowman was sworn in as the city’s mayor. Joining her for the swearing in ceremony were three new aldermen: Dave Doerhoff from Ward 1, Clint Miller from Ward 3 and Gary Davidson from Ward 4. Also sworn in was Marcia Milner, who was re-elected in Ward 2.
The meeting was moved to the Community Center which proved to be a good decision as more than 100 people were in attendance to watch the swearing in. The board chamber in City Hall only seats 60.
Although the formal meeting was fairly uneventful, there was some action following the meeting as Bowman requested and received a resignation from City Attorney John Fairfield. She had previously questioned some of the decisions offered by Fairfield and some of the bills the city had received, but said the final decision came when she attempted to contact him by email to set up a meeting prior to Monday night. She said she wanted to discuss business he was currently handling, but he never contacted her.
“Failure to respond to my emails was not acceptable in my opinion,” Bowman said.
While not as dramatic, Bowman also announced a change in how the city will do business. During her first mayor’s report, Bowman announced she was doing away with board committees and said instead the board would hold work sessions before every regular meeting. She said they would be open to the public and start at 5:30 p.m. prior to board meetings.
She also noted she would be reviewing citizens boards and commissions and asked for interested residents to apply.
Prior to the swearing in ceremony, a public presentation was made to three Harrisonville residents who had saved the life of Mark Thompson, who suffered a heart attack while playing basketball at the community center (see related story). Thompson and his wife, Betsy, were on hand to join Emergency Services Director Eric Myler with the presentation.
After a brief reception, the meeting continued with new board seated and a number of major expenditures were approved including: $15,385 for a new air conditioner in the Emergency Services office, $105,965 for slurry sealing of streets, $250,298 for asphalt overlay work, $32,000 for concrete and landscaping replacement at the Community Center and $16,000 for the emergency installation of a utility pole damaged during winter storms.
The board also approved the vacating of some right-of-way around property owned by Miller. Miller recused himself from the vote and left the room during discussion. The action was approved 7-0.
The board was also told the dates of the citywide drop off for tree limbs and yard waste would be expanded to three days on May 9 through 11.
The board was also informed the price of the employee health insurance was making a substantial increase and could cost the city an additional $18,000 for the last six months of the year. The board did not take any action asking City Administrator Happy Welch to provide more information on the topic before making a final decision.
The board also approved two special permits, one for a Chamber of Commerce Wine Crawl event May 16 and one for a “Racing for Rett” which will be held Oct. 12.
The last action before the reception break was Mayor Brian Hasek presenting Bowman with the gavel and Bowman presenting Hasek with a plaque honoring his service. Two board members who would have been serving their last night did not attend: Clint Long and Jessica Levesen.