Hamilton citizens converge on city hall

Larry Verbeek on North Ardinger complained of sewer backing up in his basement after every heavy rain. He said he has a sump pump but when toilet paper frequently plugs it up it doesn’t work. He did have a backflow preventer but the pressure was so great that it just pushed the flap open and his basement would flood. His hot water heater has been under sewer water three times and he doesn’t know how much longer it will survive in those conditions. He said you can clean and bleach the basement, but the smell still remains. He said his wife has had cancer in the last year and with the smell and mold, it’s just not healthy. Verbeek said he went to Chillicothe Plumbing Supply and asked for the price of the best backflow preventer they had with a positive seal that wouldn’t let the sewer water back into his house. The price on just the part alone will cost between $300 to $400, and he is asking for the city to pay for it and have it installed. He said he had contacted the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Missouri Health Department because something has to be done.
Gayla McNeill, who lives on the corner of 7th and N. Davis, said she has the same problem with the flap on the backflow not holding. She is asking for ideas on what to try next. McNeill said her husband has had cancer twice and hardly has any immune system. His doctors said that any minor thing could send him back to the hospital in a worse or dying condition. She said this problem with her sewer has been going on now for 16 years. Verbeek said he should feel lucky, it had only been five years for him.
City Attorney Cowherd told council that the city has an obligation to operate their sewer system in a way that is does not create a nuisance. He referred to a case in Oak Grove where there were backups and the city was found liable. He said the city needs to fix the sewer lines and stop the infiltration, but since the city was not able to get the job done promptly, he suggested that they address it on a bandaid method by putting in some backflow preventions. He suggested the city send a letter out in the next billing so they could identify how many problems there were and their location. The city may have to bid them out. He said before they do anything, they needed to consult an engineer, as he might have a different idea. Alderwoman Kavanaugh said that they were in the process of putting in new water lines which was a priority. The sewer lines will be next but they have to wait for grants to come in.
Ronnie Cohorst, who lives on Seventh Street, was quite irritated about a number of things. He complained about an 18” trench in the road next to his house and 12” deep holes in the street. In response, Mayor Gilliam said he had given the street workers instructions to pick a street, start at one end of it and work their way completely to the other end before they move on to another street. Cohorst also challenged the city as to why he had to have a red flag on his Polaris Utility vehicle. He said it was fully insured, had seat belts, turn signals, brake lights, headlights, so why would he have to have a red flag? Cowherd said it was a safety issue due to the height of the vehicle. Cohorst replied that seven and eight year olds were riding up and down the street on bicycles and people were driving lawn mowers all over town without red flags, and that his Polaris could be seen a lot easier than a bicycle or lawn mower. Cowherd said that flags on bicycles were not required by state law. Cohorst also asked why the city employees were picking up trash for the merchants in town but not the rest of town.
City Administrator Wallace said it was mainly due to lack of manpower and that they pick up trash on Main to accommodate the visitors that are flocking to town every day. Cohorst asked if the visitors paid property tax. Wallace replied that they pay “sales tax.” City Attorney Cowherd added that sales tax was way more than property tax and was a big part of the city budget. Cohorst complained about the building codes officer riding around in her private vehicle telling people “you’ve got to do this, and you’ve got to do that.” He felt that if she was going to be out there writing tickets, she should be in an official vehicle. Cohorst asked “Why do we need a city manager in a town of 1,800 people?” Wallace said he would have to ask these people that, referring to the council. Dean Hales, who attended the meeting, spoke up and said they needed a city manager as big as this town’s budget is. Cohorst said he had contacted the Attorney General and that stuff has got to change around here. “I’ve had over 25 phone calls, people calling me about stuff I’ve been putting in the paper.” He said he had one guy call him that lives south of town and said that he drives around Hamilton to go to Cameron to go shopping, so he doesn’t have to spend any money in here.
Phares Linville, who lives on N. Davis, asked if the city could do something about the speeding. He said the police come to the end of town, make a circle, and go right back to town. Speeders don’t have to accelerate, they are already going 55 or 65 from both directions. Mayor Gilliam said the speeding issue had been addressed and that more speeding tickets have been issued within the last month. The mayor said he would talk to the chief and have him go out to that area of town more often. Phares said he would be back if things didn’t change. “I know the Attorney General’s number too.”

The Caldwell County News

101 South Davis
P.O. Box 218
Hamilton, MO 64644
Phone: 816-583-2116

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