A new era for Yuma City Council

A realigned Yuma City Council was sworn in and seated during the council’s regular meeting last week.

Ron Swehla stepped down after a total of 14 years on the council in two different stretches, the last six as mayor. Sworn in to new terms were councilmen Dan Baucke, Zach Diaz and Marc Shay. It is Diaz’s first term. Tim McClung was sworn in as mayor after spending the last two years as a councilman.

Some old business had to be taken care of first, though.

Swehla, Shay, McClung, Terry Frame, Marylu Smith-Dischner and Jerome Benish, had to approve some purchases before Swehla could step down. (Baucke did not participate in the first part of the meeting because he had missed three straight, so technically was off the council until he got sworn in for a new term.)

The first purchase was rather straightforward. A motion to purchase airplane fuel at the airport was approved on a 7-0 vote. The motion was “not to exceed” $17,500 for approximately 3,000 gallons.

The next one took some time to work through, dealing with the purchase of fireworks for the annual July 3 show put on the Yuma Volunteer Fire Department.

City Manager Scott Moore explained last year’s fireworks cost $10,240, and there is $13,000 budgeted for this year.

An outfit named Kellners based in Pennsylvania provided a quote of $10,657 for a bigger show that last year. Moore said the issue was getting the fireworks here. He said there have been discussions about sending two people to pick up the fireworks and haul back in a trailer. The city has visited with its insurance carrier, CIRSA, which told the city it would be covered in Colorado, but not sure about all the other states involved in the road trip.

Moore told the council the city asked Kellners for a shipping price, and was told it would be more than $9,000, which made sending two people to pick it up more attractive but the details were not clear.

The other vendor is Flying Phoenix in Wyoming, which provided the fireworks last year. It’s quote for the same show as last year is more than $14,000, with a total bid of nearly $18,000 with delivery.

Moore asked the council what direction it wanted to go, and if it is willing to go over budget. Benish suggested asking Flying Phoenix if it could match Kellners fireworks bid.

Much discussion ensued, followed by a motion to “not to exceed” $14,326 to purchase from Flying Phoenix being passed on a 6-0 vote.

That was the end of the old business.

However, before adjournment, Shay honored Swehla: “Since this is your last hurrah, after being here 130 years, I personally, and I hope the rest of the council feels the same way, want to thank you for your service. Especially as mayor, I have never worked around people in government who have had the dedication you had. I want to thank you for that.”

The meeting then was adjourned, and the new meeting was called into session, beginning with the swearing in of the newly-elected council members.

The new council unanimously approved Smith-Dischner as the new mayor pro-tem. A motion to set meetings for the first and third Tuesdays each month, beginning at 6:30 p.m., and held at City Hall was approved on a 7-0 vote. (That is the same as it has been.)

A resolution outlining a concessionaire agreement with the Yuma Baseball Organization, to be extended for five years, at the Jeff Armstrong Ball Park complex, was approved. Another resolution authorizing city personnel to conduct certain banking tasks, which needs to be done after a new council is seated, was approved 7-0. The personnel are Karma Wells, Marla Ficken, Stacey Gonzalez, McClung and Smith-Dischner.

A retail establishment permit renewal for The Orphanage LLC was approved unanimously. It involves 13 dates on which alcohol could be served.

Moore told the council the testing of the city’s sewer system was to begin Monday, April 22. He caught up the council on the trash truck fire and spring clean up. He also reported the city has hired Angela Cordell as the grant writer and administrative assistant. She currently works at Hi-Plains School in Seibert. Currently she is here on a partial basis, and will begin full-time later in May.

Lett Hotel

During council reports, Baucke brought up it is long overdue to do something about the Lett Hotel property on Second Ave. (He did not call it by name.) He said he thinks it is time to condemn it or take some kind action, noting it is a danger to pedestrians and a fire hazard. Police Chief Jerry Thompson said it has been difficult trying to track down the owners.

Moore said he could visit with the city attorney about the process of classifying it as a dangerous building and then try to find the owners.

It was mentioned other area towns have gone through the same thing, most notably Otis with a collapsing building on Main St. that has proven to be a very difficult exercise in trying to get it torn down.

Smith-Dischner noted, based on the Otis situation, it will not e a cheap process, but the price tag will just go up into the future.

The council’s next regular meeting is May 7.