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Jennifer VerSteeg hired as new Hancock city clerk

The Hancock city council members approved the hiring of Jennifer Ver Steeg as the new city clerk. Ver Steeg, along with her husband Scott, and their daughter, Mila, live in Hancock. Her parents are Dale and Betty Rinkenberger of rural Morris.

Ver Steeg will start as the city clerk on Sept. 23. She will be working 35 hours per week with the office open from 8 - 3 p.m. each day. She will be in the office over noon hour unless attending a meeting or other function.

Mayor Bruce Malo explained that there had been ten applicants for the position. Five of these were called for interviews but only four attended those interviews. Ver Steeg was viewed as the best candidate and offered the position soon after. The official approval was made near the start of the meeting on Monday night.

Ver Steeg was present at the council meeting to accept the position. Her first official duty was to take notes at this meeting which focused on personnel reports and establishing a preliminary budget for 2014.

Personnel reports

City Attorney Carl Thunem presented the council members with two draft ordinances regarding occupancy restrictions on properties. He explained that one of the samples was relationship based and the other was based on living space. He asked the council members to study each sample ordinance and then  discuss them at the next meeting.

Thunem also told the council members that he could provide them with a presentation about open meeting laws if they desired. The council members responded that they had recently read information about these laws and did not need the presentation.

Police Chief Matt Flogstad reported that Hancock was approved to receive $11,362 in FEMA aid due to the June 21 storm. He stated that $8,521 would come from FEMA and the balance would come from the state in some form yet to be determined. He had prepared all the paperwork needed to receive this money and would be filing it as soon as possible.

Maintenance director John Jepma reported on work being done by Bargen to patch some of the city streets. He will also be getting bids for steel and insulation to go on the city shed.

Fire Chief Kyle Rose was present at the meeting to inform the council members that the department is looking at the purchase of a different equipment van. The old van is no longer reliable and they have been sticking a lot of money into it. This used van would cost $5,000 and some of the fire department members would be checking it out before making the purchase. Council members also asked Rose about the oldest fire truck which is currently stored in a city garage. The council plans to put this property up for sale so a new site will need to be found for the truck. There was some discussion about selling the 1942 truck which may have sentimental value to some in the community. This will be brought up at a future fire meeting. Rose also added that the department is in need of three more people to fill their roster.

Budget work

The council members then turned to discussion of the budget and setting a preliminary levy amount. It was finally decided to set the preliminary levy at $223,533 which is a six percent increase from last year. Councilman Jeff Kisgen was not comfortable with the increase and added that he wanted to see this lowered when the final levy was approved in December.

One of the items discussed for next year’s budget was tarring of some of the gravel streets on the west side of town. One block of work would cost about $42,000 which is split in thirds, one third paid for by the city and two thirds by property owners on each side. Before this can be done, 70 percent of the property owners along the street would also need to approve it. The streets considered for work were Jefferson, Madison and Adams Avenues One concern voiced by some of the property owners was the heavy traffic on the street near the bus garage. The council members discussed possibly building this portion up to support heavier vehicles.