The city of St. Maries application for a block grant from the USDA has moved onto the second round of the selection process.
Mayor Tom Carver informed the council of the news at the meeting Feb. 11. The city will now provide any additional information or answer any questions the awarding entity may propose.
If awarded to the city, the grant money totaling $500,000, would be paired with money from two bonds the city passed in 2017: $1.355 million and $1.9 million to overhaul portions of the city’s water and sewer systems respectively.
“This is good news,” Mayor Carver said.
The council also received news from Randi Boller, the city’s code enforcer. Mr. Boller was hired in May.
The position was put in place as slack had been created by some ordinance issues being passed back to the city from Benewah County, and current staff did not have the time to investigate or to answer questions on specific projects.
The hope was residents would make appointments with Mr. Boller to inspect projects before they break ground or go through the permit process to ensure they know what the city will expect for ordinance compliance.
During his update, Mr. Boller said things had gone well and there were also those who took issue with the city seeking to enforce its ordinances. He said for the most part the people he found in violation of codes just weren’t aware.
In addition to taking calls from residents about projects, Mr. Boller has also sought to encourage residents to clean up their properties.
“I have to say thanks to you guys for the advertisement in the paper because that got a lot of people to go out on their own and get things cleaned up,” he said.
However, Mr. Boller added there have been some residents who have not wanted to take action and the city may need to pursue legal channels. He also said one of the biggest problems he runs into is that many people would like to clean up their yards or move sheds that are not up to code, but they simply don’t have the means to do it.
“We may need to get some volunteers together,” he said. “Some of the people I talked with are elderly and they would like their yards to be nice, but they just can’t do it.”
He added that some people did get upset and came in to talk to the mayor and then did eventually address the issue.
Mr. Boller said some projects will have to wait until after spring. He said he answers, on average, three to four calls a week. He added there are lots to be done and there is always a “running list.”
“You’ve gone 40-plus years without an enforcer,” he said, “but it’s time to take the city back.”
In other business, the council approved two pay requests from HMH Engineering in regards to the Railroad Avenue project.
Mayor Carver said there had been concerns about the city being charged tax, but upon further investigation it was a “viable tax” that the city needed to pay. The first pay request approved was for $4,234.77 and the second was for $3,899.71.
He added upon speaking with city engineer Jim Roletto and Dan Coonce, with LHTAC, that it was clear the council needed to have another meeting to discuss what was happening with the project. Councilmen have expressed concern about the project deviating from what was originally proposed prior to receiving anymore invoices.
In other business, the council approved three items related to the Race the Joe! Event planned for May 17 to May 19. Main Street will be closed from 7th to 10th Street for the event’s show and shine. A special exemption permit for open drinks was also approved as well as using the city pool for training.
The city tabled two items as the individuals could not be present for the meeting due to hazardous road conditions. An update from Mr. Roletto was tabled as was the update on the sewer loan application for the bond project with Howard Lunderstadt, of USDA. The items are expected to be discussed at the Feb. 25 meeting.
Finally, during the public comment period, Councilman Randy Willard said he had heard from several residents who would like the four-way stop to be back in place at 10th Street and Main. Mayor Carver suggested citizens sign a petition so the city could see if there is a consensus for that to take place. Randy Saunders, councilman, said the city would likely need to work with the state as it is a highway.
Steve Dorendorf said he would like to see stoplights installed as drivers don’t seem to understand how a four-way stop works. Mayor Carver suggested they could have a stop sign that lights up, but Mr. Dorendorf said he personally would like to see stoplights.