Keokuk City Council

Angelica Finch says even though her family has only owned "Bacon" for a few weeks, he has become part of the family.

"Bacon" is a two-month-old miniature pot-belly pig given to Finch's five-year-old daughter as a birthday present.

Finch says she did not know that pot-belly pigs were prohibited in Keokuk until the animal control officer told her he had received a complaint from a neighbor about "Bacon."

That prompted Finch to ask the Keokuk City Council to change city law to include pot-belly pigs as domestic animals, similar to cats and dogs.

It appears Keokuk is ready to move ahead with a large-scale street reconstruction project.

Several years ago, the city borrowed about $3-million to rebuild Grand Avenue, from 4th Street to Rand Park.

The bids came in much higher than that, though, so the city had to repay the loan, with interest, and put the project on the shelf.

Talk of rebuilding Grand Avenue has resurfaced in recent weeks, culminating in last night’s Keokuk City Council workshop.

Keokuk will no longer need outside help to settle a new contract with some employees.

Mayor Tom Marion says that’s because the city and the general unit have reached a tentative agreement.

The employees in the general unit come from multiple departments, including streets and parks.  They have been working under their previous contract since July 1.

Marion says the tentative agreement allowed the two sides to cancel an arbitration hearing scheduled for this week.

The Keokuk City Council will help fund the Southeast Iowa Regional Economic and Port Authority (SIREPA).

Keokuk, Fort Madison and Lee County are the original members of the authority, which is Iowa’s first and only port authority.

The Lee County Economic Development Group has been providing operational and administrative services for SIREPA, but the organization now wants to hire the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission.

The authority does not have a regular income stream at this point, so it needs help to pay for such services.

One member of the Keokuk City Council wants residents to address a growing nuisance.

City code requires residents to trim their trees so they do not block sidewalks or extend out over city streets.  The excessive limbs can damage larger vehicles like fire engines and garbage trucks.

1st Ward Alderman Mike O’Connor says there are too many properties, throughout Keokuk, where the trees are out of control.

He wants to put the entire city “on notice” to deal with these overgrown trees.

Keokuk is putting more money into tourism efforts as the city council has agreed to boost funding for the Convention and Tourism Bureau by $7,000.

The increase would bring the total for the current fiscal year to $140,000.

Tourism Director Kirk Brandenberger requested the increase based on Keokuk’s last fiscal year being its best ever when it comes to hotel-motel tax revenue.

He says the tax generated $276,000, which is up from the projected total of $260,000.

A development project in downtown Keokuk is facing a financial penalty from the city.

The former Eagles building, which is located at the corner of 4th and Blondeau Streets, is being renovated for commercial and residential use.

The project requires the replacement of an older, 1 ½” water line with a new 2” line, with the connection being made beneath Blondeau Street.

That is an issue as city code allows Keokuk to impose a penalty of up to $1,000 because crews will be cutting into a street that is less than 5-years old.

Keokuk residents and businesses will pay more for sewer services as the city council has finalized a vote to increase the monthly rate effective August 1.

The commercial rate will increase by 3% while the residential rate will go up 5%.

Mayor Tom Marion says the commercial rate increase is smaller because Keokuk wants to remain competitive for businesses and industries.

The city says the minimum monthly charge for a residence will now be $24.25.

Keokuk could have a new police chief in place by the end of the week.

Mayor Tom Marion is recommending Administrative Captain Dave Hinton for the post.

Hinton has been with the Keokuk Police Department for more than 20 years.

Marion says Hinton stood out from the other five candidates, who are also members of the department.

Emphasis – June 29

Jun 29, 2012

Jason Parrott’s guest is Keokuk Police Chief Tom Crew.  They talk about Crew’s upcoming retirement and his 25 year career in law enforcement.

Crew describes his time with the Keokuk Police Department as a “great ride” filled with good friends and fond memories.

He says he is grateful that he found a career where it was never a burden to have to go in to work. 

Crew says that will make it more difficult, though, to walk out of his office for that final time.

Safety and liability concerns led the city of Keokuk to replace the original “Rocket Slide” in Kilbourne Park with a newer model several years ago. 

There were aspects of the original slide that no longer met federal standards.

Nels Olson of Wisconsin bought the Rocket Slide in the hopes of restoring it and installing the slide on his own property.

With that, people in Keokuk seemed to lose track of the slide, until it ended up on the reality television show, American Restoration.

It will soon cost a little more to own a cat or a dog in Keokuk as the city council has agreed to increase the cost of the annual license.

Owners currently pay $5/animal each year. 

The cost of the license will increase to $10 on July 1 if the animal is spayed or neutered. A three-year license would also be available for $25.

Mayor Tom Marion says the license would increase to $25 for one year and $65 for three years if the animal is unaltered.

The Keokuk City Council must decide how the city should pay for some highly-anticipated street work.

Keokuk replaced some sewer lines around Wells-Carey Elementary about two years ago.

The project required crews to tear up several streets to do the work.

Keokuk did not immediately replace them, though, because the sewer needed time to settle.  Gravel was added for the time being, but that has led to plenty of complaints from residents about dust.

Thursday night’s Keokuk City Council meeting had a feeling of Christmas as aldermen opened the boxes containing their new iPads.

The city spent more than $6,000 to purchase the devices for the nine city council members along with the Mayor, City Clerk, Police Chief, Fire Chief, Public Works Director, and Community Development Director.

The iPads are for the specific position or office-holder, not the individuals.  There is a device for the 3rd Ward Alderman, not for Ron Payne, for example.

Keokuk could get some financial help from some of its employees.

The city’s current contract with the firefighter’s union runs out June 30, 2013.  It is the only contract in place for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2012.

Keokuk is currently in negotiations with the unions representing police officers, employees at the wastewater treatment plant, and the general union, which includes parks, streets and cemeteries.

The firefighters are offering to give up the 3% raise its members are in-line for come July 1.

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