By Kevin Thranow
Several community members attended last week’s regular meeting of the Mission City Council at which the fate of open council seats was to be decided. Daniel Brave and Frank Iron Heart, who have previously stated their interest in the two positions for which terms expired at the end of last year, were given an opportunity by Mayor Jack Herman to restate their intentions and qualifications for the seats.
Both emphasized their enthusiasm to represent a younger generation of local residents who are ready to step up and do their part to make the community stronger and work on creating a path forward that will benefit the town and its citizens.
A few of the other attendees spoke briefly about what they saw as the major concerns and priorities facing the council. Road maintenance and flood damage repairs and clean-up were high on everyone’s lists. People also expressed frustration at the lack of activities for children, the closure of the city pool, safety issues, and an overall decline in local businesses and services.
A discussion between the attendees and council members followed in which the city representatives lamented the lack of available funds to tackle all of the issues mentioned - all of which are regular topics at city council meetings. They acknowledged that it is often a matter of dealing with priorities in an incremental approach, and trying to stay within the city’s budget. Road and pool repairs alone could each exceed a million dollars.
A couple of residents asked about applying for grants for various programs. In fact, there are funds available from both private and public sources, but the problem is doing the large amount of research necessary to locate grants and identify for which grants the city could qualify. Then it’s a matter of writing the applications and jumping through the hoops associated with each individual program. Often, the grants are only available on a matching basis, for which the community would have to contribute a significant amount. Residents suggested a more aggressive effort to search out and land secondary funding opportunities.
Regarding safety and nuisance concerns, there was dialogue on law enforcement practices and protocols, as well as on the growing number of inoperable or abandoned cars parked indefinitely on city streets.
Chad Chauncey reiterated his remarks from the previous council meeting about his dissatisfaction over the police response to a recent daytime burglary at his house. Another citizen in attendance stated that dozens of cattle had been stolen from her ranch. Both cases seem to be examples of conflicts of jurisdiction among the areas law enforcement services, but policing is also a budgetary consideration, and each municipality has to determine how to provide reasonable and adequate service using available funds.
Mayor Herman recently attended a meeting between local law enforcement personnel and Sunrise Apartment developer Costello Management to address some of the criminal activity identified at the complex and its affect on the rest of the residents of Mission. Several options and ideas were discussed with the goal of reducing the amount of crime in town.
Mission city attorney Warren Arganbright was on hand for the meeting to advise council members and residents on legal matters involved in the various topics that were brought up in the meeting. One area in which he indicated that the city could take a stronger approach was in its handling of nuisance complaints. The law is pretty clear on what residents can keep on the streets and right-of-ways surrounding their properties and what constitutes abandonment or a safety hazard. The council agreed that it was a problem that needed to be addressed more actively.
After input from Arganbright and further discussion among the meeting participants, it was motioned and passed to hold a special election to determine who will assume the contended council seats. Legal notices will be placed in the Todd County Tribune to announce the election and procedures that candidates are required to follow. The election will be only for the two Ward 2 openings, so only residents in that ward will be able to cast votes. Council members and potential candidates agreed that a special election would be the most equitable way to decide the issue.
The next Mission City Council meeting will take place at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5, at the city office in Mission. As always, local residents are encouraged to attend. Last meeting’s productive discussions are the reason that it is important for everyone to get involved, and also to be willing to help achieve common community goals.