SIKESTON -- Mayor Mike Marshall said he would like the cooperation and resolve displayed during the city's fight to convince the Union Pacific Railroad to choose another route to serve as "a springboard to go forward" in addressing other challenges faced by the city.
Marshall commented on Union Pacific's change of plans before turning to agenda items during the regular City Council meeting Tuesday,
UP officials announced Friday the decision to drop their petition to the federal Surface Transportation Board to acquire and increase rail traffic on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line between Sikeston and Rockview.
The railroad will instead go with the "northern route" as suggested by local officials.
Mark Davis, the railroad's spokesman, stated UP's petition to the STB for the Sikeston tracks was withdrawn because the review process was taking too long while the railroad needs to increase its freight capacity through this area now.
In discussions with the railroad, Marshall unwaveringly presented the city's request for UP to change their plan and doubletrack their northern route instead of increasing traffic here, citing safety hazards both within town and at the four-lane highway crossing near Morehouse.
In business items addressed Tuesday:
* Council awarded a three-year contract with Sonny's Solid Waste for the city's solid waste collection and disposal services at a cost of $12.42 per month per household.
The contract includes a provision to renegotiate terms if the cost of fuel exceeds $3.80 per gallon.
A bid was also submitted by Allied Waste Services of Dexter which offered services at $18 per month for the first year, $18.63 for the second year and $19.28 for the third year. The bid included a 50-cent per month discount for senior citizens.
With the addition of an administrative fee of $1.41 to offset the billing costs for the Board of Municipal Utilities and the annual cleanup program, the total monthly fee will be $13.83 per month per household.
Also approved was a bill amending the solid waste portion of city code.
Karen Bailey, city treasurer and deputy city clerk, explained the change was needed as the municipal code allowed for the pickup of tree limbs and yard waste which is now prohibited.
* Council members approved a change order to the FY-2006 Street Program to add a paving project at the Sikeston Business, Education and Technology Park.
Construction Trailer Specialists is contributing half of the cost to pave the gravel road just south of their facility at the industrial park.
Lambert Engineering estimated the cost would be $45,000.
The city will fund its half with transportation tax funds.
City Manager Doug Friend said paving that road has been discussed since the park was first built.
* Council unanimously rejected an amendment to city code which would have changed appointments on the city's boards and commissions to "at will" positions.
If approved, board and commission appointees could have been removed by City Council members even without cause.
The change would not have applied to boards governed by state statute such as the Housing Authority and Board of Municipal Utilities boards.
Councilman Jerry Pullen said the Council usually has difficulty finding good people to serve on city boards and commissions. "I'm so glad to see the volunteers," he said.
Former mayors Steve Sikes and Bill Burch likewise advised against the ordinance. "It could be misinterpreted as an attempt to micromanage the city's boards," Sikes said.
Marshall said the change isn't needed as problems on boards and commissions are a rarity. "It doesn't happen very often," he said.
* Friend briefed the Council on the range of costs to use brick pavers in the sidewalk replacement project approved for portions of North Kingshighway in the downtown area as requested by the Historic Midtown Development Group.
Using the pavers is about four times as expensive as concrete, according to Friend.
Marshall said with the streets being brick, concrete sidewalks are fine.
* A bill which would shorten the amount of time necessary before business license fees become delinquent to 30 days was tabled until the next meeting.
* Mary Stalcup of Reuben Street said the drainage ditch near her home needs maintenance again.
Some information for this story was supplied by the Southeast Missouri News Service.