New councilors, new mayor, new recall effort in Dunsmuir

Steve Gerace
Newly elected Dunsmuir City Councilors Tim Padula and Scott Welch take the oath of office Nov. 21, returing the council to a full five members. Photo by Steve Gerace

The Dunsmuir City Council returned to full strength Thursday night and went full speed ahead on a long list of issues.

Newly elected council members Tim Padula and Scott Welch took the oath of office and filled two seats that had been vacant for seven months.

“Welcome to the party,” councilor Dave Keisler said as they were taking their seats.

Soon after, Keisler was nominated by Ed Steele to be Dunsmuir’s mayor for the next year, and the council agreed.

Leslie Wilde was chosen as vice mayor.

During a public comments session that included several calls for working together for the betterment of all, Dick Kelby, who is the current planning commission chair, presented Wilde with a Notice of Intention to Circulate Recall Petition.

Nothing more was said about that during the meeting. Much was said about other issues by council members, city manager Brenda Bains, and members of the audience as the council worked its way through seven Old Business items on the agenda.

New Mayor Keisler admitted to having “a lump in my throat” after taking the gavel from Steele. “I do love this town,” he said.

Among his final statements as mayor, Steele encouraged councilors to “leave your baggage at the door” and “work for the betterment of everyone.”

While nominating “Big” Dave Keisler for mayor, Steele cited Keisler’s many efforts in the community, including working on bus shelters, organizing soapbox derbies, and leading the Boy Scouts Troop. He also noted that Keisler recently “saved the life of Rita Green.”

Keisler’s first action as mayor was to request a moment of silence in recognition of the recent passing of Dunsmuir resident Bob Powers and the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy.

It was more than three and a half hours later when Keisler adjourned his first meeting as mayor.

An audience of close to 40 people had dwindled to fewer than 10 by the end.

Neighborhood Watch

During the Sheriff’s report early in the meeting, Sgt. Chris Rees spoke about the effort to re-start Neighborhood Watch in Dunsmuir. He encouraged all residents to attend a Neighborhood Watch open house scheduled for Dec. 12 at 6 p.m. in the Community Building. “Come see what it’s all about,” Rees said. “It’s not a vigilante group; it’s neighbors taking care of neighbors.”

Rees said the meeting would last about one hour and free cookies would be available. He encouraged anyone who wants to bring cookies to do so.

Action items

The city council took action on the following items during their Nov. 21 regular meeting:

• Councilors passed a resolution by a 4-1 vote that established a remote meeting attendance policy for council members. Welch voted “no way.”

The resolution allows teleconferencing for council members who are out of town or unable to be physically present through Skype or wireless device.

It also requires, among other things, that “a quorum of the members of the legislative body participate from locations within the boundaries” of the council’s jurisdiction and that “all votes taken during a teleconferenced meeting” be by roll-call.

Welch objected to having council members participate in meetings from a remote location, in part, because he thinks those attending the meeting “have a right to look a man in the eye when he’s talking to you.” He expressed concern that teleconferencing does not convey the full context of a communication.

“I’m all for experimenting with technology,” said Wilde. “If it’s abused, then we can amend it.”

• On a rescheduling request from Keisler because he will be out of town that day, the council decided to cancel its Dec. 5 regular meeting and agreed to hold just one regular meeting next month, on Dec. 19. A special meeting will be scheduled prior to Dec. 6 to consider a request to close part of Dunsmuir Ave. for that night’s tree lighting festivities.

• After much discussion and new information contributed by Pace Engineering’s Jim Elkin, the council approved an amended resolution regarding the best way to proceed in an effort to find a long-term solution to keep the Children’s Park.

The City had been using the property on a 15 year lease at no charge, even though the property changed hands in 2004.

The lease was originally established with Dunsmuir Elementary School, but the property is now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Gary Benton.

According to city manager Brenda Bains, Gary Benson informed the city that he had no intention of renewing the lease, but is open to a possible trade.

As of Sept. 1, Bains said the city “is on the hook for $625 per month” until a new agreement can be worked out.

As suggested by Welch, because it is a land use issue, the resolution to hold a public hearing to initiate the process of vacating Spruce St. for the purpose of making a trade will be preceded by a recommendation from the planning commission.

• Approved a two-year memorandum of understanding with Siskiyou County regarding Dunsmuir Library operations. Prior to the approval, comments were heard about the importance of keeping the library open and the challenge of doing so since the County significantly reduced its funding support for libraries two years ago.

Tim Holt said funding for the Dunsmuir Library should continue as it is now through the end of June next year.

Peter Arth encouraged the council to place a library funding measure on the June 2014 ballot. A previous measure, Holt said, was approved by 60 percent of Dunsmuir’s voters but needed 66 percent of the vote to pass. He said an attempt is being made at the state level to reduce that requirement to 55 percent.

• Council members were all on board for a suggestion by Wilde to hold a facilitated workshop with the goal of developing and documenting council protocols. The workshop would be a special meeting open to the public and staffed by city employees. It would deal with items such as the layout of meeting agendas, procedures for placing items on the council agenda, the procedure for forming committees, and more.

Wilde provided council members with a copy of the protocols Mount Shasta revised in 2011. Steele said he thought Mount Shasta’s document could be modified easily for Dunsmuir’s use.

Bains said after the meeting that she will start looking for a facilitator and, once one is found, schedule a date for the workshop.

• Councilors voted 5-0 to adopt a resolution approving PACE Engineering services for the 2013 Regional Surface Transportation Program Dunsmuir Avenue Sidewalk Project.

Bains said Dunsmuir received a grant for $62,000 for the creation of ADA compliant sidewalks.

The resolution caps the amount that can be paid to PACE for PS&E and construction engineering at $15,000.

The actual sidewalk work will be awarded through an advertised bidding process.

• After much discussion, the council tabled until its next meeting considering adoption of a resolution submitted by Peter Arth to establish parameters, guidelines and reporting necessary to enforce the Historic Preservation chapter of the Dunsmuir City Code.