City council looks at beer gardens, railroad, bills, road projects and swimming pool

One of the first items addressed at the Philip City Council meeting Tuesday, July 5, was to schedule a special public hearing Thursday, July 14, at 4:00 p.m. in the Haakon County Courthouse community room on the chamber's application for a special malt beverage license.

The Philip Chamber of Commerce's special events application for Scotty Philip Days has been amended. The chamber wishes to enlarge the beer garden to also be under the tent, and to increase the beer garden hours. The public hearing will be Thursday, and Scotty Philip Days begin Friday.

The council passed a special events application by Dakota Bar and Grill to have a two-parking-spaced sized beer garden for July 15-16. This will be the same as the establishment had during Philip Festival Days. There is a possibility that there will be a live band.

Granted building permits include Ray Gibson to replace a patio with a larger one, Hannah Griffin to replace a concrete driveway and walkway, Brian Jankord for Philip Custom Meats to put in a concrete pad and wall, for Mike Moses to replace a deck/patio, for Tom Struble to construct a dog kennel, and for Cenex Harvest States Midwest Cooperative to extend and add a railway siding to the east across S. Auto Avenue and to connect to the city's storm sewer.

In a letter to Mayor John Hart from Civil Design Inc., the firm is under contract with Cenex Harvest States Midwest Cooperative to design two railroad sidings to expand the railroad shipping capacity of Midwest's grain handling facility on Cherry Street. The sidings will be installed east of the facility on the south side of the current railway tracks, and will extend eastward across S. Auto Avenue. While Midwest Co-op is loading a train, S. Auto Avenue will be closed. This is anticipated to be for the entire day, one day a week. Road closure gates will be used during train loadings.

The council approved pending bills. Gross salaries come to: $4,778.50 for administration, $3,370.00 for mayor and council, $5,735.59 for police, $2,976.13 for public works, $4,659.19 for street, $6,198.52 for swimming pool, and $2,197.86 for water. After employee insurance, retirement, Medicare, social security, and withholding are added on, the total is $38,769,99.

As of July 6, bills pending came to a total of $123,510.65. This includes $61,878.20 the city has to pay toward the Philip Health Services, Inc. geothermal project that the city is administrating.

A second reading of Ord. #2011-03, supplemental appropriations was held. This the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act energy efficiency conservation block grant for the PHSI geothermal heating project.

In the council's determining which of two street improvement projects to schedule for next year, Councilman Michael Vetter said, "Either way somebody's going to be ticked off and either way somebody is going to be happy." Hart asked, "What's the best for the community?" After extensive debate, it was decided that a patchwork repair would not hold for a year on the Wood/Walden Avenue project, where it might hold on the Pine Street Phase III project. Thus, for next year, Wood and Walden will be redone, while the east end of Pine Street will have to get by with a year's worth of temporary repairs.

The Federal Aviation Administration entitlement money that should have been used this year will not be required until the project is actually done next year. The city has approved a request to transfer those funds of $70,602 to the Hot Springs airport. Philip will reapply for funds next year. An application for a 60 percent community access road grant has been filed with the South Dakota Department of Transportation.

From January through June, the city has collected a total of $14,540.04 in airport fuel sales. This is after administration fees have been accounted for. Crop spraying airplanes in the area are expected to increase this amount during July and August.

South Dakota Department of Energy and Natural Resources has accepted Philip's storm sewer and wastewater facility plans. It has approved them as meeting the criteria for the Small Community Planning Grant. The wastewater plans have been corrected per Schmucker, Paul, Nohr and Associates, Mitchell.

The council will wait before addressing a request from Philip Horizons to pay membership and electricity to light the Horizon project area on the north side of the courthouse parking lot. If the corner street light is not enough, then a photo-sensor light and its monthly minimum electricity fee will be addressed.

In Philip Police Chief Kit Graham's police report he said, "Festival Days went very smooth. It (the security agency hired by the chamber) really made a difference. Very few problems." Graham said that five officers will be hired for the wagon train events July 15-17.

The city's swimming pool attendance was reported by pool manager Rose Bennett. From 2003 through 2008, attendance varied between 3,274 and 3,750. In 2009, there were only 2,495. The pool was being rebuilt in 2010. So far for 2011, June attendance was 1,973, which does not include the water aerobics, early morning swimmers and other extra groups. This averages over 65 swimmers per day. There were 283 swimmers on free swim day, July 1.

The council formally approved contracting with Erin Fitzgerald at $8.00 per hour to teach water aerobics and possibly Mommy and Me classes. Swimming lessons will be held during the weeks of July 11 and July 25. The council has decided that, if people insist on holding fundraisers for pool expenses, then pool equipment would be a better goal. The city will pay the propane heating costs since that will be an expense that should be in the annual budget.

The finding on the continuing water loss were inconclusive. The year to date cumulative water loss is 27.41 percent. Two previous leak repairs do not seem to be stemming the tide.

Now, with lawn sprinklers coming on at night all over the place, said Public Works Director Matt Reckling, nighttime testing for specific area water losses will be more difficult.

An elected officials workshop is scheduled for Thursday, July 14, in Pierre.

The next regular meeting of the Philip City Council will be Monday, August 1, at 7:00 p.m. in the Haakon County Courthouse community room.