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Mayor and council members sworn in
by Jacob Lane · January 02, 2014

During the West Liberty city council meeting Tuesday, Dec. 17, the council swore in two members and the new mayor, as well as discussed the noise ordinance and water treatment plant options.

For his final council meeting Mayor Chad Thomas swore Felicie Simmons and Melody Russell into the 2014 city council, as well as council member Robert Hartman into the WL mayoral position for next year.

Russell is reclaiming her council seat while Simmons will replace Hartman on the council, since Hartman will be taking on the role of mayor in a few weeks.

During its final comments of the evening the council showed its appreciation towards Thomas and all the work he has done for West Liberty over the years.

"I would just like to thank you for your service to the community…I'd like to let everyone know that being mayor, and also a council member, is sometimes a very thankless job; I just want to let you know that a lot of people… really appreciate what you do," said Mayor Elect Hartman.

Afterward, Thomas took a few minutes to talk about his time as mayor before closing the final council meeting of the year.

"I just want to thank all of you as well, and all the city staff. At almost five years as mayor and four years as a council member I've been here for quite a while," he said. "I certainly enjoyed my time working with all of you, I feel good and positive about the people who will be in this room Jan. 7, and the decisions you guys are going to make over the next coming years."

"Thank you all, thank you to everybody in the community for everything they do, whether it gets recognized or not," Thomas added.

Police Chief and Interim City Manager McNaul presented Thomas with a plaque for his service on behalf of the city, followed by a round of applause from everybody in the room.

The 2014 city council will officially include council members Ethan Anderson, Bill Cline, Felicie Simmons, Jose Zacarias and Melody Russell with Mayor Robert Hartman.

Earlier in the meeting Mayor Thomas presented a noise ordinance he found, originally approved back in July of 2004 by the city council. The city had been unable to find the current ordinance at previous meetings.

The city discovered it was missing the ordinance when community member Colleen Frahm complained about her neighbor’s ATV use being too loud.

Up until this point, loud noises were dealt with as criminal matters of disorderly conduct. But, ATV use is not criminal. Thus, the need for a noise ordinance resurfaced.

However, there was no ordinance to be found.

Now that it has resurfaced, Mayor Thomas suggested the council start over with the noise ordinance and come up with something more current.

"Even though it clearly got passed and at this point we have a record of it, I think the cleanest way would be for council just to re-take up the issue and re-approve it and start over," he said.

The ordinance was changed in 2004 in order to get rid of a decibel rating system the police used to define all loud noises. Instead, loud noises became defined as anything a reasonable person would find disturbing considering its time, place and manner.

Next, the discussion of which secondary water treatment process should be implemented in West Liberty continued.

Construction of the new water treatment plant is being done in two phases; the first installed new iron removal filters for the primary step in water treatment at a cost of $1.3 million.

The second will install a secondary treatment in the process at a cost of $1.6 million. Right now the city is deciding between using reverse osmosis (RO) or electrical dialysis reversal (EDR).

Originally EDR was the city's choice. However, City Engineer for Veenstra and Kinm Leo Foley has been investigating EDR use in other Iowa towns such as Mt. Pleasant and Washington. He found that the installation cost may be more then originally thought.

"You go to the EDR… $990,000, that one really shocked me. I had gotten verbal prices on EDR in the past, never in writing; they didn't give me writing until they saw the plans, that were in about the $600,000 ball park."

Also, EDR promises less water loss then RO, but cities around Iowa that use EDR show higher water loss than what's usually said. However, their EDR units are much older designs than the ones proposed for West Liberty.

"The two things the city is going to be concerned about is cost and the recovery of water or water loss," Foley added.

He will continue to look at both secondary treatments and report back with a recommendation at a later meeting.

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