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City Council of Webster City confirms contract with Harrenstein; Hawkins becomes mayor again

January 3, 2024

After unexpected, abrupt and simultaneous resignations late last year of the two top executives in city government, the City Council of Webster City put all that behind it by starting the new year with a new interim city manager.

After approving the appointment of John Harrenstein for the position, Mayor John Hawkins clarified the term of Harrenstein’s contract is for nine months, beginning January 2, 2024, and running through October 2, 2024, not September 2, 2024 as noted in the draft contract, sent out in the council agenda packet, and as previously reported by The Daily Freeman-Journal.

Harrenstein, who spent his first day on the job meeting city staff and touring city facilities, said, “I’ve had a fabulous first day. Thanks to everyone for such a warm welcome.”

Webster City’s mayor and mayor pro tem are selected from among members of city council, and that was the first item of business on the agenda. Hawkins was reelected mayor, and Logan Welch, mayor pro tem — both unanimously. Councilwoman Megan McFarland was not present at the meeting,

Both men will serve two-year terms.

Next, a number of annual resolutions, committee appointments and delegation of authority to senior city staff were proposed and passed; allowing city government to function in 2024. These include:

. Appointment of Adam Dickinson as the city’s representative to the North Iowa Municipal Electric Cooperative Association for the year 2024;

. Appointment of Brian Stroner as the city’s Right To Know coordinator for 2024. In this capacity, Stroner will deal primarily with employee health and safety issues;

. Appointment of John Hawkins as city representative to the Hamilton County Resource Enhancement Committee for the year 2024;

. Appointment of Brandon Bahrenfuss as the city representative to the MIDAS transportation advisory committee for the year 2024;

. Appointment of Councilwoman Megan McFarland as the city representative on the board of Webster City Day Care for the year 2024;

. Appointment of Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Logan Welch as the city representative on the board of Riverview Early Childhood Center for the year 2024;

. Appointment of The Daily Freeman-Journal as the official legal newspaper for the city for 2024;

. Appointment of Police Chief Shiloh Mork as city representative to Hamilton County’s E911 Service Advisory Board for 2024. Fire Chief Charles Stansfield was named alternative representative;

. Appointment of Mayor John Hawkins as city representative on the Hamilton County Emergency Management Commission. Fire Chief Charles Stansfield was named alternative representative;

. No appointments were made to the Hamilton County Solid Waste Commission, so it will be carried over until the council’s next meeting. Both a representative, and alternative representative must be named;

. Authority was delegated to city Finance Manager Dodie Wolfgram to manage the city’s investments, meet regular staff payrolls, and pay for economic development grants and projects;

. A resolution was approved allowing the deposit of public funds up to $30,000,000 in each of six financial institutions: Avalia Bank, Webster City; First State Bank, Webster City; WCF Financial Bank, Webster City; People’s Credit Union, Webster City; United Bank of Iowa, Fort Dodge, and the Iowa Public Agency Investment Trust, West Des Moines.

. The council agreed to meet the first and third Mondays of each month at City Hall at 6 p.m., except in early September when it will meet Tuesday, September 2, 2024, the day after the Monday Labor Day holiday.

In other action, the council approved the following resolutions, proposed by staff and, in some cases, supported by work done by outside consultants:

. The 2024 HMA — hot-mix asphalt — paving program was awarded to Fort Dodge Asphalt, the low bidder at $209,347.50. Two relatively small projects will be completed in 2024: the 600 block of Elm Street from and including the Des Moines Street intersection to Willson Avenue, and the 500 block of Webster Street from Willson Avenue to Seneca Street. As in recent years, these projects include segments of curb and gutter replacement, pavement milling, a 3-inch resurfacing with HMA, sidewalk ramps built to Americans with Disabilities Act standards, concrete driveway replacements, and limited utility pipe and drainage structure replacements. Work will begin by June 3, and conclude no later than August 12, 2024.

. A public hearing will be held February 5, 2024, at city hall regarding sale of city-owned property at 1135 Division Street, Webster City. Acquired by the city in 2020 for the purpose of tearing down a condemned building, it is expected to be sold for development of a new, single-family home.

. Police chief Shiloh Mork proposed trading in two police vehicles toward purchase of two newer ones to upgrade the department’s fleet. The department operates four Chevrolet Tahoes, and one Dodge RAM pickup truck in patrol duty, assigns one RAM truck for the K9 officer, and another to the police investigator. A Chevrolet Impala sedan is used for out-of-town travel and training purposes. Chief Mork uses the oldest Tahoe, which previously served as the K9 unit.

The Tahoe vehicles all have transmission and/or electrical system problems, and each has run a minimum 100,000 miles. Repair costs for each exceeds expected trade-in value. The 2023/24 capital expense plan allocated $65,000 for vehicle replacement. This will not cover Mork’s proposed $117,735 plan to buy one 2023 RAM, and one Dodge Charger Pursuit, so he proposed augmenting the CEP funds with $41,735 from the Public Safety Fund, which, in turn, is supported by the new speed camera program. All equipment that can be transferred from existing to new police vehicles will be re-used to further reduce cost of the new vehicles.

. The traffic committee proposed that the council approve a first reading of two amendments to the City Code of Ordinances, one requiring drivers of vehicles of five tons or greater, loaded or empty, to use posted truck routes when traveling through the city or risk being personally cited and fined for failure to comply; the other to enforce no parking zone infractions on Des Moines, Second and Bank streets.

Code presently states the owner of the vehicle alone can be held responsible. The amended statute will allow either the owner or operator of the vehicle to be cited. It is hoped this change will encourage greater compliance of both regulations.

In his summary of local legal affairs, City Attorney Zach Chizek reported, among other matters, that construction of a new Kwik Star convenience store on Webster City’s west side, “should begin very soon.”


View this article as it originally appeared in the Daily Freeman-Journal.

Last modified: January 3, 2024

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