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Stories Added - September 2010
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Onalaska bans synthetic marijuana
Polk County Enterprise

Staff Reporter

ONALASKA — City Council members approved the city’s budget for 2010- 2011 following a public hearing. No residents appeared to speak at the public hearing. The fiscal year budget begins Oct. 1. The budget remains largely unchanged from last year with the total operating general fund budget at $628,990.61. Council heard a presentation from Client Service Coordinator Randall Rice of the law firm of McCreay Veselka Bragg and Allen, PC for the firm to collect delinquent municipal court fines and fees. Rice proposed the firm will collect fees for the municipal court for specific delinquent fees with their fee included at no cost to the city. Software for the service will be installed for electronic transmissions and updates of delinquent cases. Rice offered the cost of software could be $1,000 with the firm paying half the cost or the software may be $500 with the firm paying the total cost of software. The software has been installed in other areas of the county including Corrigan, Polk County offices, and county precinct offices. Municipal Court Judge David Johnson spoke to council members about the law firm, noting the county uses this service. Johnson pointed out the firm’s services will free personnel from collection duties. Council members discussed the firm’s operation with Rice before unanimously approving the law firm to represent the city in specific collection matters. Council also adopted a resolution to impose additional fees for collections costs of delinquent court fines. Council also adopted an ordinance banning synthetic cannabinoids, cannabinoid mimicking compounds, saliva divinorum and related substances. The substances are commonly referred to as synthetic marijuana. The ordinance prohibits the use, possession, purchase, sale display or attempted sale of the substances. Violation of the ordinance is subject to misdemeanor charges in municipal court. Council members also approved an ordinance setting a public funds investment policy. The ordinance lists the primary objectives of invested funds as safety, liquidity, diversification and yield and adheres to the Public Funds Investment Act. Council members designated Mayor Lew Vail as the city’s representative to sign the ballot for the 2010 Texas Municipal League intergovernmental employee benefits pool board of trustees. Police Chief Ron Gilbert presented the resignation of Detective Troy Binford to council members. Council unanimously accepted the resignation. Gilbert also presented the August police report. Onalaska Police Department handled 122 dispatched calls and 1,275 non-dispatched calls during the month. Gilbert reported eight felony arrests and 22 misdemeanor arrests were made. OPD issued 271 citations and 90 warnings during the month. Officers responded to 18 assist calls with the fire department, 22 with the county, one DPS assist and one other assistance call. Officers logged 8,473 miles on patrol during August. A total of 80 warrants were issued during the month and 44 warrants were cleared. OPD worked 60 cases during August. Roy Newport presented council with a summary of emergency response calls during August for the Onalaska Volunteer Fire Department in the absence of Acting Fire Chief Jay Stutts. Newport reported OVFD responded to 29 county calls and 17 city calls in August. Of those calls, 36 were medical related, one structure fire call, five grass fire calls, one motor vehicle assist call, one landing zone call and two mutual aid calls. OVFD also responded to two calls assisting a neighboring county. Newport reported 53 volunteer hours were logged for the month. Of those, 12 manhours were within Onalaska and 41 were outside Onalaska city limits. Newport presented the building permit summary to council members that included $175 in permit fees during August. Two additions or modifications were added in the city limits along with one new residence and one commercial permit. The permits for August added $50,000 in value to the tax roll. Newport reported current improvement values to date are above $1.7 million. Council member Patsy Goins presented the Onalaska Public Library Board report to council. She reported 49 new borrowers were added with 977 patrons visiting the Onalaska Public Library including 379 computer patrons. The library circulated 600 books for the month. Goins reported $157.25 income from copies, faxes and fines for August. Goins also announced the library will host a workshop for librarians sponsored by Houston Area Library System (HALS). Participants can earn four continuing education units for attending the workshop. Laptops using the library’s wireless connection will be provided for the workshop. The Library Board approved new operating hours for the facility by closing the library on Saturday and remaining open on Wednesday effective Oct. 1. Board members nominated Patsy Goins as voting representative and Cathy Fothergill as the alternate voting representative for HALS. In the Friends of the Library report, Goins reported 170 paperback books were donated to the F.A.I.T.H. organization to be included in packages mailed to service men and women with Polk County ties. Also reported and on display was a drawing of the new library building that will be included in an upcoming grant proposal. Council members approved a proclamation declaring October domestic violence awareness month that urges citizens to work together to eliminate domestic violence from our community. Vail signed the proclamation after council approval. Agenda consent items approved by members of council included approval of previous minutes, approval of payment of vouchers and acceptance of financial reports. City of Onalaska council members will next meet at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at City Hall. The public is invited to attend council meetings held at 372 FM 356 S.


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