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City officials discuss the purchase of new backhoe

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

MINER - The Miner Board of Aldermen will call a special meeting if another good deal on a backhoe comes up.

The purchase of a new backhoe for the city was discussed during the board's regular meeting Tuesday.

Alderperson Peggy Holman said the city definitely needs one. "I want my sewer and water to work," she said.

Dub Higden of the Department of Public Works said if the city's backhoe presently in use breaks down, it is likely repairs will cost more than the machine is worth.

He reported a used backhoe from Pennsylvania he was looking into didn't have too many hours on it, but was not in good shape. "It's been in salt, been mistreated," Higden said.

Asked if Dewitt Auction Company has anything, "They had one and we just missed it," Higden answered. "It was a pretty nice machine." He said the auction company is supposed to call him if they get another one in.

Higden said the list he submitted to the Board does not have actual bids, but "estimate prices on what they had, what they could get."

Janet Tuttle, city clerk, recommended buying a used backhoe "if you can get a good one."

Higden said if they can find one with low hours that has been maintained well, it could last the city 25 years.

Board member Justin Medley said he is sure the city needs a new backhoe but asked Tuttle to research the city's funding options to make sure the city can afford it.

Donna Thomas, board member, asked if it could be used to clear snow like the old one. Higden said all the backhoes he has estimates on are four-wheel drive. "They're all equipped the same," he said. All are 2001 models or newer.

Mayor Mitch Thompson and Tuttle agreed to research if the city can afford the purchase and funding options.

In other business during Tuesday's meeting:

* The board voted 3-1 to rent uniforms for its fire department while keeping the present uniform policy in place for its police. Holman entered the vote against the motion.

Police Chief Roger Moore said under the present policy, new hires are usually fitted from what the department has on hand unless they are not of average size.

"We've got more tops than we do pants. For some reason the pants wear out faster than the tops do," Moore said.

Holman suggested an allotment that could be spent on any personal equipment or uniform needs. "Some people just don't take care of their stuff like others do," she said.

Uniform replacements for existing staff will be purchased as needed.

Moore said purchasing costs on uniforms vary as sometimes officers pick up good deals at surplus outlets in Paducah, Ky., or St. Louis. "If you hit it just right, you are going to get a good deal," he said. However, he added, "it's first come, first served - they do not hold them." Usually the cost for a top and pants is about $100, Moore said.

"They need to be in good repair," Thompson said of the police uniforms.

* Benny Thurston, fire division chief, will research if there are any available grants for tornado sirens and make sure there are locations to place them around the city.

The city presently has one siren. "They're not cheap," said Thompson.

Thurston said he thinks there is a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant for sirens as well as a Farmers Home Administration program.

The specifications from siren vendors reviewed by the board Tuesday list the effective range as 5,600 feet. "Slightly over a mile," Thompson noted.

* The owner of land with a thicket that egrets find irresistible for nesting has agreed to remove the vegetation, according to Thurston.

The large white birds are a protected species and can not be disturbed once they settle in, according to city officials.

"It would be a good idea to have a backup plan," said board member Deloris Smith.

The board agreed to send a letter advising him in writing that the city can clean up the thicket and bill him for it if he does not do it on his own.

Holman said when the thicket is removed the egrets will just nest in a nearby pine grove.