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Lodgepole seeks new clerk

agrees to help honor long-serving librarian

By A. Marie Hamilton, Sidney Sun-Telegraph

LODGEPOLE – The Village of Lodgepole is seeking a new village treasurer/clerk as its former clerk is no longer with the village. Village trustees heard a number of reports from various departments, including a proposal from the Lodgepole Housing Authority to purchase a recently paid off apartment complex, and unanimously voted to help the library honor one of its long-serving librarians, Norma Michelman.

Lodgepole Chairman R.J. Savely, Vice Chair Gwen Devie, Trustees Ron Shellhorn, Brenda Parsons and Abbie Brott discussed the village budget as it relates to payroll and other financial responsibilities. Initially, Trustee Parsons voted no to pass the payroll summary in the consent agenda because she stated she had questions.

"I have concerns with the payroll," Parsons stated. "I'm going to vote no – we need to discuss as the board how we're going to start paying payables."

Parsons said it's difficult to discuss questions about items that are already prepaid as a board member. Ultimately, the board chairman and other trustees agreed to pull the payroll summary from the consent agenda and discussed some of the questions board members had. After a brief discussion to clarify questions and concerns, the board ultimately unanimously approved the payroll summary.

The Lodgepole Housing Authority Board Member, Steven Posser, told Lodgepole trustees, "Most people believe that the apartments are owned the Village of Lodgepole."

"They're not, they are not – I've asked for years who owns this place?" Posser continued. "Well, Lodgepole Authority owns it."

Posser explained he and his team checked records and verified those records with state records and it was determined the Lodgepole Housing Authority, who has been paying the mortgage of the apartments and recently paid the building off, owned the physical building and property the building sits on. For decades the housing authority has maintained and managed the property with each new renter.

"What we found out is Lodgepole Housing Authority is a government entity," Posser further explained to Lodgepole trustees. He went on to explain the apartment building was built in 1981 with an FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loan, which was managed by U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Development to strengthen economic development in small, rural farming communities in the early 80s. For the last 40 years, Lodgepole Housing Authority has faithfully paid the mortgage and recently paid off the original, and only, FHA loan.

The Lodgepole Housing Authority proposed selling the asset to the Village of Lodgepole, as a town asset and for the board of trustees to control, manage and continue maintenance for its tenants. Currently, the building is occupied by all rent assisted and capped residents, except one, a new renter who is renting at market value.

After much discussion and several questions from the board of trustees, the board decided to table the proposal until it could get additional information.

Lodgepole board of trustees also heard from Lodgepole Visions, a local nonprofit community group which works on community projects.

Lodgepole Visions Group requested permission from the board of trustees to plant a flower garden in front of the PAC building and permission for the village to put its well-maintained local baseball field to use.

Additionally, Visions requested permission to go through the storage of music it has at the high school to give to local musicians and, or to other neighboring school music programs as a gesture of kindness and to put the music to good use.

Visions told the board of trustees the music has been sitting in storage collecting dust and thought it was a disservice to the collection to continue to sit collecting dust, rather than being put to use in the community.

Ultimately, the Lodgepole Board of Trustees agreed with all three requests made by Visions.

A written update from Lodgepole zoning management Marshall Hall stated monthly zoning updates went out last Wednesday.

Lodgepole Maintenance Department employees Matt Lofton and Ethan Kraus explained to Lodgepole Board of Trustees the department was in need of purchasing a tablet to better manage the village's water, sewer, electric and other utility needs.

The department and trustees discussed purchasing a Samsung table or an Apple iPad, ultimately, the group agreed it was financially smarter to purchase the Samsung tablet as it would be versatile to the needs of the maintenance department.

Doug Hart from the village road and street department gave an update about current projects his department is focusing on.

Hart explained how many of the projects are already underway and acknowledged some projects could be moved up the priority list after some board members inquired about various problematic roads within the village limits.

Members of the Nancy Fawcett Memorial Library in Lodgepole asked if the Lodgepole Board of Trustees would like to help purchase a plague for long-standing librarian and worker Norma Michelman for her nearly 40 years of service to the town and library.

After marveling at such an extensive service career, board members discussed how much they felt was appropriate to pitch in, as they wanted to help honor Michelman. The plaque cost $80, of which the board of trustees agreed to pitch in half, or $40, so that the entire village could honor Michelman's service to the community.

The board also discussed a potential resolution that could allow the future village clerk/treasurer the ability to make payments prior to board authorization during its regularly scheduled meetings to meet the demands of utility payment schedules.

Trustee Devie had questions and concerns about passing such as resolution as it's not recognized by the state auditors office, however, Chairman Savely believed it would be honored as other nearby and surrounding villages use the same or similar resolution to prevent utilities shut-offs for government buildings.

Together, the board agreed to seek additional information and to speak to legal counsel before it proceeded with this resolution, thus tabling it until a future village council meeting.

Later in the meeting, trustees agreed it would be beneficial to the council to tour village buildings and facilities to know where everything is and to understand future requests from its various departments.

The next regularly scheduled Lodgepole village council meeting will be June 6 starting at 7 p.m. at the Village Office, located in the panther Activity Center, 630 Orchard Street.


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