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Ropin’ in a good time at the Phillips County Fair PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

Canton Skomp, age 2, practices his roping as the Phillips County
Fair team roping goes on behind him at the fairgrounds Sunday
night, July 20. Sunday activity kicked off the July 20-27 Fair, with
action at Phillips County Raceway Monday night, July 21, also
drawing a crowd to the fairgrounds. A true roper wannabe, Skomp
seldom leaves home without his cowboy hat and spurs. He is the
son of Chance and Jessica Skomp of Lamar, Neb.
—Enterprise photo

Holyoke Enterprise July 24, 2014

Marijuana issue is postponed until 2016 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kyle Arnoldy   

Holyoke City Council members were divided at their Tuesday, July 15, meeting on whether or not to include a question pertaining to marijuana facilities in Holyoke for the November general election.

City Clerk/Treasurer Kathy Olofson informed council members that while they had until Sept. 5 to determine the language of the ballot questions they planned to submit for the ballot, the questions that were going to be included needed to be decided Tuesday night.

In December of 2012, an ordinance was adopted that prohibited the operation of marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities or retail marijuana stores within the city. It also stated that the issue would be up for vote on the November 2014 coordinated ballot.

Council member Kevin Scott voiced his opinion that the question should go on this year’s ballot to get it over with. His sentiment was echoed by fellow member Brian Akey, who stated he thought the marijuana issue should go on the ballot as the city council had agreed to do so in the past.

After a vote, Scott’s motion for the issue to be included on the November election did not pass as the council was deadlocked at 3-3. Scott, Akey and Scott Murray were in favor of including the question, and Mayor Orville Tonsing, Steve Moore and J.C. Peckham voted in opposition. Council member David Churchwell was not present at Tuesday’s meeting.

After the motion failed, all six men voted unanimously to pass an ordinance that added two years to the 2012 amendment on marijuana facilities in Holyoke. The issue will return in 2016, at which time the city will coordinate a ballot issue for approval or rejection in the general election.

Ordinance No. 5 is set for final reading and passage at the Tuesday, Aug. 5, meeting.


Term limits and lodging tax questions approved for November general election

Ballot questions on eliminating term limits and adding a lodging tax will appear on the November ballot.

Term limits for council members was briefly discussed at last week’s meeting.

Scott noted that every other office in the county has no term limits. Tonsing pointed out that the government works slowly. Those only around for eight years may start multiple projects but only have enough time to see one all the way through.

Tonsing also noted that it is difficult to find someone dedicated to the position, and when someone is found, it would be beneficial to hold on to them.

The group unanimously decided to include a question on the ballot to eliminate term limits for council members.

For the lodging tax, council members were very vocal about including hotel owners in the discussion process.

“I think if we get them on board, we’ll have a lot better chance,” Akey said.

Moore agreed, stating, “I think if we can’t get the people at the hotels on board, there is no reason to include it on the ballot at all.”

Moore suggested a work session with representatives from area lodging facilities to determine how to approach the lodging tax. Council members agreed that where the money from the tax would go and what it would be used for need to be addressed.

Council members voted unanimously to include a lodging tax question on the ballot with the cooperation of the area hotels.


Officials report

City Superintendent Mark Brown reported that there had been one power outage since the July 1 meeting. The outage occurred on West Howitt Street due to a broken wire in the wind Friday, July 11.

Water crews have been busy working on leaks in the sprinkler system at the cemetery, and street crews have been picking up branches and clearing storm drains. Street crews also have been patching streets and just recently started seal coating streets.

Brown also mentioned that the updates scheduled for the airport this year likely won’t take place. Contractors hired for the job are now so far behind due to the weather that it is unlikely that the airport will receive upgrades this season.

Brown stated that he is hoping the project is shovel-ready by the spring.

Holyoke Police Chief Doug Bergstrom reported that from June 26-July 9, the department generated 81 calls for service. In that time, they made one arrest, wrote five reports, issued three citations and gave out 10 warnings. Through code enforcement, there were three animal complaints, five dog-at-large complaints, one junk ordinance violation and one miscellaneous ordinance violation.

Bergstrom also noted that Sgt. Damon Ellis had recently hurt his leg but was able to complete code enforcement work.


Other business

In other business July 15, the council:

—agreed to allow Melissa Memorial Hospital Foundation free use of the swimming pool and to provide lifeguards on Oct. 11 from 8-11:30 a.m. for the MMHF Amateur Triathlon.

—approved a donation request from Baby Bear Hugs for 15 one-day swim passes for prizes.

—accepted the resignation of Holyoke Police Officer Dwight Thompson.

Holyoke Enterprise July 24, 2014

Week’s high temps span 39 degrees PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

High temps in Holyoke saw a wide range this past week as 58 degrees was photographed at a local financial institution mid-afternoon Wednesday, July 16, and 97 degrees was pictured Monday, July 21. Official reports from weather observer Dan Kafka showed a 39-degree range, as the high temps were officially 63 degrees on July 16 and 102 on Sunday, July 20.

Early in the week of July 14, it felt more like spring in Holyoke. Minimal moisture was recorded, but enough to slow the wheat harvest in progress. Temps started to climb Friday, July 18, when a high of 88 was reported, and Saturday, July 19, when the mercury rose to 90. During the period of July 14-19, low temps were in the low to mid-50s.

Summertime temps arrived in full force when the mercury passed the century mark with 102 on Sunday and 101 on Monday. Low temps those days were 68 and 69 respectively.

Weather forecasts indicate it could be a hot week at the Phillips County Fair.  —Enterprise photos

Holyoke Enterprise July 24, 2014

RLD continues push for commercial, residential development in Holyoke PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kyle Arnoldy   
Six weeks after attorney Russell Sprague, representing Robin Lake Development, proposed the sale of the O’Neal drainage pit to the city at $2 per square foot, council members officially announced their position at the Thursday, July 17, special meeting.

While Sprague’s offer at the June 3 city council meeting had an expiration date of 11:59 p.m. that night, Mayor Orville Tonsing stated Thursday night that the city has chosen not to respond to the proposal.

Council members entered into executive session at the start of the special meeting. After exiting the 16-minute session for a conference with the city attorney to receive legal advice, to determine positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations and to develop strategy for negotiations, Tonsing announced the city’s stance.

In his announcement, Tonsing alluded to an agreement with Dennis and Carolyn O’Neal from 1986 that gave an easement to the City of Holyoke to use the pit.

“As a city, we will continue to operate as per our agreement with Dennis and Carolyn O’Neal,” Tonsing said. “We have no animosity toward RLD and will continue to operate in the spirit of cooperation.”

The special meeting came just two days after the Tuesday, July 15, city council meeting where the city granted RLD a minor subdivision exemption for the North Side and RCO subdivisions at the south end of Holyoke.

The subdivision exemption creates four continuous lots along Johnson Street—two commercial and two residential. Commercial lots, which are due east of the Cobblestone Inn and Suites, measure 125 feet across with a depth of 160 feet. Residential lots are east of the commercial lots and are 115 feet across and have a depth of 160 feet.

City Superintendent Mark Brown pointed out Tuesday night that under city ordinance, anytime a new street is put in, adjacent landowners can be held financially accountable for the new curbs, gutters and paving. The south side of Johnson Street would need these updates.

Sprague responded that those issues would be negotiated as part of the sale with either RLD and Rupert and Claire O’Neal handling the upgrades or the price being absorbed as part of the purchase price of the lots.

Drainage continues to be the hot topic when RLD visits the council chambers.

Sprague explained Tuesday that the drainage for the four lots would be handled by a drainageway that is 9 inches deep, 24 feet wide and 450 feet long. The drainageway would run south of the four lots. According to Sprague, he has received information from Brent Burklund from T.C. Engineering Inc. out of North Platte, Neb., that the drainageway would be able to handle 140 percent of a 100-year event.

The standing water would either percolate down or evaporate, and in the event of a large rainstorm that drops 5 inches in a 24-hour period, the drainageway would take roughly a day and a half to drain.

If the area were struck by a larger than 100-year event, Sprague noted that the overflow from the drainageway could run to Robin Lake.

Brown expressed some skepticism about the use of Robin Lake as there is no information available on the lake and what it can handle.

“The engineer provided that potential overflow down to that natural lagoon simply as an outlet in a catastrophic event,” Sprague explained. “We’re talking probably a several-hundred-year event—possible, but highly improbable.”

City Attorney Al Wall stated that the issue could be taken to the planning commission to look at and analyze. They then could make a recommendation back to the city council on how to proceed.

Sprague stated that RLD was seeking approval Tuesday night and he believed he had presented enough information for the council to do so.

Once taken to a vote, Tonsing was the lone nay vote to grant the subdivision exemption request. Scott Murray, Brian Akey, Kevin Scott, Steve Moore and J.C. Peckham voted in favor of the request, and David Churchwell was not in attendance.

“It’s just my feeling that we are passing an incomplete thing here,” Tonsing stated. “Some issues need to be addressed, but that’s just my opinion.”

Holyoke Enterprise July 24. 2014