Fines will be increasing in the Town of Westville, it was determined at the regular monthly meeting of the Westville Town Council on Monday, August 2 at 6 p.m. at the Town Hall meeting room.
The Westville Town Council voted for an approximate 10% increase. This will include traffic fines, possession fines, theft, and citations for property violations.
Citing that the fines have not been increased in several years and that the town’s fines are substantially lower than those issued by the Cherokee Nation under the McGirt ruling, councilors with the exception of Adam McKenzie, voted to increase the fines. McKenzie, looking over the schedule of fines, and said, “I think some of these are outrageous.”
Cherokee citizens do have the option of refusing to pay the local fine and taking the issue to Tribal Court, however, if they lose their case there, the fine will be substantially higher than those issued by the town.
After approving the fines, however, the council voted to declare an emergency regarding the amending of Ordinance #218, setting the bond schedules for traffic offenses and misdemeanors, and setting the monies aside for maintenance, improvement and repair of streets, alleys, roadways, and parks. An emergency clause goes in effect after 30 days whereas a non-emergency clause takes 60 days.
Again, McKenzie voted “no” and was joined by council member Stefanie Mitchell who said, “if it is going to affect people adversely, I think we need give people time to know about it.”
Mayor Tony Barker and councilors James Oliver and Lonnie Coates voted yes on the emergency clause.
Regarding the recent survey with citizens on town improvements, it was reported that there were 325 votes and 97% of them were from the Westville area. The majority of the votes were for reopening the pool or installing a splash pad. Barker said that he felt that since Siloam Springs has an aquatic center, there wouldn’t be enough patrons to justify the expense. He also mentioned that the pool had turned into a “babysitter” the last few years it was in operation with a number of people dropping their children off for the day without money for snacks or meals.
Adair County Emergency Manager Dianna Yell was on the agenda to discuss the establishment of an Adair County EMS Board/Service; however, she was not present at the meeting so nothing was done. The 911/EMS proposal is currently in the District Attorneys office for approval and will be presented to the council at that time.
Oklahoma State University Extension HOP Jessie Collin was also on the agenda to discuss the park survey; however, Collin also was no present.
There was discussion but no action taken to add vendors and activities during cruise nights, especially during the months where cruise night is not linked to another activity such as Loyalty Day, Fall Festival, Summer Slam. Food vendors have the option of either paying sales tax or purchasing a $25 permit for a 48 hour setup.
In other business, the council voted to authorize an application for a grant through USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Loan/Grant Fund. Street Department Superintendent Brad Sanders advised that he expects the city to have a need for a backhoe in the not too distant future and the grant could be used for that.
They tabled action regarding a structure owned by Louis Summers at Lot 13, Block 3, Marion Meadows (1189 First Street) to determine if the structure is dilapidated and constitutes a detriment or hazard to public safety, until attorney Ralph Keen is present.
Repairs or replacement of one of the A/C units at the community building was considered. Sanders said he had talked with Ogden’s Heat and Air and gotten a $13,100 quote to replace the unit. Mitchell said she believed they might want to consider replacing the additional two units at the same time since they are all the same age and it be more economical to do the entire project at once than do it in separate increments. Also, newer units would be much more energy efficient, reducing the substantial electric usage at the community building. No action was taken.
After executive session to cover two employees annual reviews, it was voted to give employees Billy Ames a 5% raise effective August 7 and Kendra Wagoner a 7% raise also effective August 7.
In updates from department heads Sanders said the street department is doing mostly clean up, including brush removal and grass cutting and had repaired the damage to a library window done by a rock someone threw.
Police Chief Scottie Mitchell reported his officers answered 196 calls and made 34 arrests. He also said the town is going to Digiticket rather than handwritten tickets.
The Fire Department worked five fires during the month of July.