Brian Bell

Albia City Councilman Brian Bell attended his last meeting Monday. Bell and his family have moved to an acreage near Moravia.

The question new councilman Brandon Williams originally placed on the agenda had to do with placing a new street light by his home located a couple of blocks off the Albia square near the intersection of Second Street and Second Avenue.

But that question turned into a sometimes impassioned discussion led by Ed Williams of Hiteman, Brandon’s father, and a soon-to-be retired Albia Waterworks employee, about a whole host of problems with junked cars, people living illegally in RVs, thieves, disgusting signs on taverns and a city attorney (who wasn’t present) not doing his job effectively.

Along with a discussion about reinstating dog licensing, it was one of the longest and liveliest city council meetings in a long time. It also turned out to be Councilman Brian Bell’s last meeting. Bell has resigned because of a move out of the city.

Brandon Williams was interested in having a street light placed to light an alley that he said had a lot of “unneeded activity” in it.

Ed Williams stepped into the conversation and complained that Candy Graham (whose house the city worked for over two years to tear down) simply moved into her garage and is now living illegally in a beat up motor home parked illegally on Benton Avenue, across the street from the Cruizin’ Albia ball park. “We’re living in Mayberry,” Williams told the council. “We’ve got some guy putting a beat up RV on our main street, cover it with a blue tarp and then Candy Graham moves into it.”

Mayor Richard Clark reminded Williams that the Albia Police Department had served notice on the property (owned by former City Councilman, the late Rowland Barnes) and that they had 14 days to move it to the back of the property. Acting Police Chief Brad Evinger said the police were trying to establish whether or not Graham was living illegally in the motor home.

Williams continued to criticize City Attorney Bob Breckenridge. “He lives in Ottumwa,” said Williams. “People are crawling in and out of that alley (near his son’s home). You can’t tell me this kind of thing happens in Pella.” Williams went on to criticize the city for not forcing the new bar owners of Chebs to take down a sign that does not conform to the city’s sign ordinance and “looks like two naked men.”

“Do we want that kind of stuff in Albia?” Williams asked. “There’s a house on A Avenue East that is overflowing with garbage. We can’t have all this crap that breeds this.”

At one point, as Councilman Dennis Conley was trying to sort out the issues of city street lights, and Ed Williams started talking over him and Conley reminded Williams, “You don’t even live here. I’m trying to figure this out.” Conley said that he, like other Albians, have chosen to install and pay for their own security lights.”

Brandon Williams finally said he would look into that.

Dog licensing tabled

Earlier in the meeting the council approved the final reading of the dangerous animal ordinance, but put a hold on the idea to reinstate the dog licensing ordinance until more information could be gathered from other cities.

Originally, Councilwoman Kathy Mobley pushed for the reinstatement for two reasons. First to make sure dogs are vaccinated for rabies and secondly to allow the city to identify dogs and reunite them with their owners. Without City Attorney Breckenridge present, the council didn’t have the details of a licensing ordinance and a number of questions were left unanswered. Councilman Merle Regenold maintained that even a $5 fee for the life of a dog was a new tax on the people. Mayor Clark said he was confused about enforcement and how the city would make people purchase licenses. He said the city didn’t have the manpower to get citizens to purchase licenses.

Council guests said in their experience in other communities, that question works itself out as dogs get loose, owners come looking for them and are made to license the dogs to get them back. Apparently, the ordinance Albia is looking at would cut the fine in half for a dog picked up if it were licensed.

After considerable discussion, the council tabled the issue until Breckenridge could be at the meeting and help clear up some of the legal issues.

In other business, two citizens were in attendance to ask the city to consider placing stop signs at the intersection of B Avenue East and 10th Avenue because of the number of children in the neighborhood and the speed of vehicles going through the intersection. Acting Police Chief Evinger said he would do a study on the request.

After Bill Murphy (sanitation) and Jeff Stephens (streets) had a meeting with Keller Excavating and Norris Asphalt concerning street repair after sewer replacement, the council approved a $23,500 increase in spot repairs of streets where sewer work is being done to avoid problems with street edges breaking off and return the street to a proper crown.

The council also entered into a treatment agreement with ISG to do Iowa Department of Natural Resources ordered testing of what Relco Locomotives are contributing to the city’s sewer system. Apparently, Relco will not work with Hall Engineering, the city’s regular engineering firm. The DNR requires testing from all industries in Albia. ISG is currently designing improvements to the Albia water system.

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