Council wishes officer a happy retirement

At a touching presentation, the Winslow City Council said “Thank You” and “Goodbye” to long-time Winslow Police Officer Vernie John Martin.

Lieutenant Martin is retiring after 23 years with the force. He was presented a plaque, a proclamation and a City of Winslow jacket.

Vice Mayor Harold Soehner presided over the meeting in the absence of Mayor Jim Boles. Boles and Councilman Tom McCauley were in Phoenix representing Winslow at the annual Arizona League of Cities and Town’s convention.

The board approved Resolution No. 1233 approving a lease purchase with Zions National Bank for the purchase of 13 vehicles from various city departments. City Finance Director Gina Reffner explained Zions Bank was picked out of several leasing companies.

The city will pay a down payment of $6,000 per vehicle.

The board also heard first readings for two ordinances.

Ordinance No. 893 authorizes a lease agreement for property located at the city’s water tank for an amateur repeater site. The site will be the new home of a radio tower.

Ordinance No. 894 amends Chapter 2.16 of the Winslow Municipal Code by changing the Police Court’s name to the Municipal Court.

The issue of approving a new GIT’M officer for the police department was tabled at the request of City Attorney Dale Patton. The GIT’M officer would be part of an intergovernmental gang task force.

On the consent calendar, the council approved the following items:

• Awarded the bid for applying a plastic seal to various city streets to International Surfacing Systems of Chandler.

• Approved the purchase of new water works supplies to hook up the new Winslow Heights water tank.

• Approved the purchase of aerators for the Parks/Facilities division.

• Accepted a report from the Planning and Zoning Commission.

• Accepted a report from the Historic Preservation Commission.

Several other items that were on the consent calendar were pulled for further discussion.

Councilman M.E. “Tommy T” Thompson asked that the emergency purchase of lights for the Lee Street Park be pulled from the calendar and discussed further. He asked why the emergency clause was used for this, to which City Administrator John Roche answered that the original August deadline to use the Community Development Block Grant monies was approaching fast, that is until the city was given a deadline in April.

Roche explained the lights were not done earlier in the year due to the inmate work crew being involved in other projects. The delivery time was estimated at three to four weeks and due to the fast approaching deadline, the emergency clause was enacted.

The purchase was passed with only Councilman Thompson voting no.

Thompson asked that the emergency cleaning of drainage ditches at the airport and industrial park areas also be pulled from the calendar. Once again, he asked why the emergency clause was being used.

Roche said when a monsoon storm flooded the U.S. Forest Service’s parking lot, the emergency clause was enacted to immediately solve the problem. He also went on to explain the lack of people and funding in the Streets Department kept the city from cleaning the ditches before the monsoons began.

The council approved the cleaning with Thompson voting no.

The purchase of two new computers for the Wastewater Division was also pulled at the request of Councilman Thompson. Roche explained the new computers were necessary to run the new SCADA program, a program that controls pumps and wells at the station from a remote location.

The council approved this purchase with no objections.

Another item Councilman Thompson asked to be pulled was the emergency replacement/repair of the water line in the 600 block of Apache Avenue. He once again asked why the emergency clause was being used. Roche explained the piece of pipe was a cast iron part that had not been replaced three years ago. He added the piece was basically a “time-bomb” that had broken at least three times in the past few months.

The council approved the replacement with Thompson objecting.

The final item Thompson asked to be pulled was the purchase of three vehicles for the police department.

He asked Police Chief Stephen Garnett why he was considering purchasing Crown Victorias after the recent crashes and fatalities from burns that occurred in the Phoenix area.

Chief Garnett went on to explain that the Crown Victoria police cruisers were the safest cars on the road. He added that the incidents that had killed officers in the Phoenix area all involved high-speed chases or high-speed rear collisions. Garnett explained those were not problems in Winslow.

He went on to say that the Department of Public Safety mechanics all favored the Crown Victoria cruisers and no officers on the Winslow force had come to him with a problem about the cars.

Thompson went on to support the purchase since the Chief and his officers felt okay with purchasing the Crown Victoria cruisers. The purchase was approved unanimously.

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