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Bethel Moves Meetings To First Monday


December 13, 2018

A decision to dismiss with prejudice a lawsuit against the Pottawatomie County Development Authority was passed by a count of three to one during the Bethel Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday, Dec. 5. Trustee Karen Jones voted no, stating lack of information as her reasoning. There was no public discussion prior to the vote being taken.

The trustees confirmed their willingness to send a representative to the PCDA, but are still waiting on the board's go-ahead to make any decision. Possible action concerning this issue will be included in the next month's agenda.

Another major order of business concerned the official schedule of meetings for the trustees in 2019. The board deliberated long on this issue, as the schedules for the various trustees were exceedingly busy. It was generally agreed that Wednesdays were not an ideal time, due to church obligations. Eventually, the meetings were moved to the first Monday of every month save July. On that month, the meeting will occur on the second Monday.

The board seemed under an unusual amount of pressure to finalize certain pressing, end-of-the-year items, including the future of a maturing bond with the town's Arvest Investment account. Dissatisfaction with the current rate of interest on the bond prompted the board's desire to search for an alternative home for it. "I think we need to investigate a bit," said trustee Tony Carlile.

The bond, which comes to maturity at Arvest this month, currently earns interest at a rate of 1.15 percent, a rate which the trustees believe could be easily improved elsewhere. "That's not good," Carlile said.

A motion was made to allow the maturation of the bond and look at options to reinvest it elsewhere. The possibility of investing the money into a longer term bond was discussed, as trustees noted that the money hasn't been needed in recent memory and that it is likely safe to invest it longer – especially considering that longer bonds generate greater interest. In the end, the motion to allow the bond to mature passed unanimously.

Trustees experienced more frustration during the review of the town's oil and gas report, which revealed another case of late payments from Abundance Energy. The company has failed to pay on time for two months straight now – leading to a total of $3,600 being overdue – much to the chagrin of the trustees. "I don't know why they're continually behind," Carlile said, echoing the general sentiments of his board.

A motion was passed to approve the Abundance wells, contingent on payment by the company by Friday Dec. 7. "I'll get his number and call him," Carlile said, referencing Jeff Lumin, the link between the trustees and Abundance. The board also renewed permits on two Miner Electric wells.

Neal Davis, who submitted the oil and gas report to the trustees, remained prominent in the meeting later on, when the board discussed a motion to remove his name from Bethel Acres' bank accounts. Davis, who formerly served as mayor of the town, was present during the meeting and had no issues at all with the decision being made. The motion was passed.

The board discussed two applications for building permits during the meeting. Kiah Dority and Douglas Harris were each applying for permission to build homes within the town limits. Harris was present, and after presenting the appropriate paperwork – including tentative blueprints for his building project – his permit was approved. Dority failed to be present at the meeting, and appeared to not have all of the paperwork needed. No drawing was submitted with the permit application, and this absence was the deciding factor in the board's decision, which was to deny the permit application. "I think we need some more information," Carlile said.

Other business discussed during the meeting concerned the possibility of contracting an outside company to enforce code violations within the town. The name of the company thrown around was Higley Consulting Development Services, and after discussion of the company's costs it was deemed a reasonable option. No action was taken during the meeting, but trustees seemed convinced of the need for such a company to be brought in. "We need a bulldog to enforce the codes we have," Mayor Jake Clanin said.

Old business included a rehashing of the discussion from last month concerning an Avedis Foundation grant. More financial implications were discussed, but it appeared that no new action could be taken at that time. The need to replace the playground mulch was brought up during new business, with trustees considering shopping around for lower cost materials.

The next meeting of the Bethel Acres board will take place Monday, Jan. 7, 2019.


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