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Rushford takes positive approach with police issue

Fri, Jun 15th, 2007
Posted in Government

RUSHFORD - The Rushford City Council isn't sure exactly what to do in the stand-off over police protection with the City of Rushford Village, but the members agree that they wish to remain proactive and positive.

Mayor Les Ladewig advised against a "wait and see" approach at the regular council meeting June 11, and everyone else agreed.

The contract for police protection in CRV is set to expire June 22. The city of Rushford has proposed raising the rate from the current $1,000 per year. With no official response from CRV, and the deadline looming, the city sent a letter asking whether the village would like an extension and more time to decide. That letter has received no response.

"I'd like to see us reach some agreement," said Nancy Benson, "and us being proactive is the way to go."

Of immediate concern is what to do the day after the contract expires. Police staff would like direction from the council.

"If you don't have a written agreement by the time it expires, you don't have authority to go there," advised city attorney Terry Chiglo, "except in certain emergency situations."

Chiglo informed the board that their concern now should be liability issues, i.e. responding to police calls when there's no contract to do so.

With no local police protection, village residents would call the county sheriff with law enforcement issues. Chiglo reported that the sheriff has a legitimate right to ask for mutual assistance from local police after the sheriff or deputy is already on the scene. But the county is not authorized to ask local police to respond to routine calls.

To address the liability issues, Chiglo recommends that the council "make it clear in writing what you will and won't do" in police matters.

A small group made up of Ladewig, council member Laura Deering, and local police will meet to consider both a new proposal as well as a written agreement about what will happen if there's no response by June 22 and the contract expires.

Earlier in the meeting during the time for public comments, the mayor called on Roger Colbenson to state his business.

"I'm here as a concerned taxpayer," Colbenson responded. "I'm just here to listen."

As it turned out, listening wasn't enough and Colbenson couldn't resist offering helpful input several times throughout the meeting.

"Us taxpayers should have some say in this (police services provided to the village)", Colbenson said. "It's our money paying for it."

Since the next council meeting is June 25, three days after the contract expires, the committee plans to work quickly to put things in writing.

Legal Services

The council approved a request from city staff to offer the city attorney a two-year contract.

"It's the same agreement we've had for the past two years," Chiglo replied when asked about the proposal. "with the addition of a year."

"You've served us well in the past twelve months," Ladewig said, praising Chiglo's expertise on a number of issues.

The city has also retained the services of attorney Scott Springer of Preston for prosecutorial services for the past six months on a trial basis. The council approved giving Springer a year's contract, which will be reviewed at the end of that time.

"Incubator Business"

The council gave its stamp of approval to the recommendation by the EDA to rent the former Dreamin' Horses building to four local men for a practice space and recording studio. Casey Howe, Eric Howe, Isaac Saul, and Joseph Misico have a band called "Dirtwater" and plan to live in the second floor of the building while developing their business on the first floor.

The council gave permission for the city attorney to draw up a lease with a rent of $300 a month for the first six months, $350 a month for the next six months, and then reevaluate the agreement after a year.

The council offered their encouragement for what administrator Windy Block called an "incubator business" to Casey Howe, who was present.

What about the trees?

After Herb Highum's brief report from the tree board, Colbenson raised his hand and asked, "Whatever happened to the vote passed to get the trees replanted downtown?"

Colbenson recalled that the council had voted to replace trees approximately two years ago.

Highum replied that the trees had been removed because of a visibility problem for drivers.

"We were working with the D.O.T.," city clerk Kathy Zacher recalled. "There were right-of-way issues."

"Maybe by the stop sign," Colbenson said, "but not all of them."

"We'll look into it," the mayor said.

After the meeting adjourned, Ladewig approached Colbenson with a friendly, rhetorical question: "Who put a nickel in you?"

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