Florence council hears report on old school buildings

The Florence City Council heard from Bobbie Strait of the Marion County Health Department at their Sept. 4 meeting about the process of appointing someone as the city inspector for building-code violations under the new zoning ordinance.

Strait presented sample ordinances from nearby towns and said the county wouldn?t have jurisdiction unless there is an imminent health or safety danger to the community.

Two public hearings must be held before a property could be condemned, but fines and fees can be assessed without legal council. If the landowner files suit and loses the case, the city?s attorney fees could be recovered.

Strait then discussed her findings on the 1885 Hill School and the brick former high school buildings. One was inspected and found to be uninhabitable; the other was unable to be inspected because of the amount of dead birds and waste inside.

It was verified that the property owners would be liable for any injuries or accidents due to the ?attractive nuisances.?

Strait was appointed to continue investigating the two former school buildings for hazards and violations. An ordinance will be drafted concerning code violations and appointing a permanent inspector.

Tree farm manager Leonard Ellis asked the council to appeal the decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to remove a row of about 200 young trees along the Cottonwood River.

Ellis said the depth of the trees? taproots prevent them from being moved and he asked to have no part in killing the row of trees if it becomes necessary.

Ellis said Corps inspectors had approved the placement of the trees in 2005 and a re-evaluation might be more favorable. The council will ask to have the levy re-evaluated before proceeding with further appeals if necessary.

The council met with surveyors to discuss having some city-owned properties marked in preparation for possible future development.

Boundary and topographic maps were discussed, but the council decided to remove some trees from the property before continuing.

A survey will be done of the external boundaries of the property received from the state after highway construction.

After a 10-minute recess, the council reconvened to take reports. Councilors thanked everyone who helped with the Labor Day festivities and cook-off, saying the turnout was

Fire Chief Tim Parmley said the Marion County fire departments? fund-raiser fireworks display at Marion County Lake had been well-received and was more profitable than last year?s.

Parmley said the Florence Fire Department would be discussing bringing back a cadet program for 14- to 18-year-olds. If approved by the firefighters, the program would allow cadets to train alongside the current firefighters with one mentor per cadet.

Cadets wouldn?t be allowed inside a burning structure but would be able to spray fires from a safe distance.

Cadets with the appropriate driver?s permit could learn to drive the vehicles on training days but would not drive to actual emergencies.

Youth who apply to be a cadet would be required have parental permission and maintain at least a C-average in school.

While the program had been endorsed by the city?s insurance provider in the past, the council asked Parmley to have the plans approved by the current provider.

Parmley also asked the council whether there was truth to rumors of ill will over the recent dismissal of longtime firefighter Bob Ogle. He was told the rumors were ?just scuttlebutt.?

However, after two lengthy executive sessions for personnel-related matters, the mayor asked Parmley to meet with him one-on-one at a later date. No decisions were made; councilors said, ?It was just discussion.?

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