Last Tuesday was an emotional evening at the Fredonia Town Council, as the mayor and two council members passed the baton to their replacements.

The meeting began with Town Manager Dan Watson’s report. He explained several grants he had been working on for the town. The first grant was to pay for the Spillman software for the Marshal’s Office. The next was an energy grant through the Department of Commerce, which, if awarded, would pay to refit the lighting at the senior center, medical center and library.

With new lighting, the town would experience a 40% energy savings. In addition, the grant would pay to replace the antiquated lighting at the softball field, which would give the town a 65% energy savings. Watson also told the council of a grant he had written for a new fire engine and fire equipment to replace equipment not “up to specs.”

During his report, Watson expressed his concern about the Town Code. “They’re in poor shape and they don’t match,” explained Watson. He stated he was hoping to have the website done, but the code is a priority.

Mayor Dixie Lee Judd gave her final mayoral report. “Since this is my last time here, I want to thank everybody for their support, especially the volunteers and Marilyn. She’s been an asset for a long time,” said Judd. She tearfully raved about the volunteer help in the community, including the Eagle Scouts. “I thank you for the four years that I’ve been here and I appreciate that,” Judd added. 

First on the agenda was a rent increase for the Fredonia Medical Center. It was explained that since the beginning of the lease, the town has been paying all utilities on the center, even though the lease agreement stated the utilities are the responsibility of the clinic. 

Approximately $36,000 in back utilities are now an issue being handled by the lawyers. Watson presented various rental increase options to the council, which included the clinic being responsible for its own utilities.

Health Care CEO Liz Latham addressed the council with concerns about the potential increase. She explained the investment they have in the community, but stated the clinic has never made a profit or broken even. She explained an increase in rent might force them to close the center. 

The council agreed to keep the rent at the current rate of $750 per month, but make the clinic pay for its own utilities.

Latham told the council she would have to take that to her board for approval.

Watson explained the difficult decision in choosing an applicant for the town clerk position. He said there were many qualified applicants. 

A board consisting of Dan Watson, Scott Heaton, Georgia Heaton, Freda Campbell and Verene Tait, interviewed the impressive applicants. The board recommended Tina Horlacher for the position. The council approved.

The Planning and Zoning Commission had two recommendations for the council.  First was to grant Randy Soderquist a conditional use permit for Re-Creation Retreat. The permit would allow Soderquist to use the building, formerly North Rim Nursery, as class and group rooms. The council granted the permit, four to one, to be reviewed after one year.

The second recommendation was to deny the renewal of Tom and Lori Corrigan’s multi-dog permit due to noise complaints and lack of letters from adjacent property owners. Council member Cody Judd explained that because of the denial, the Corrigans would now like to be granted a conditional use permit for six months in order to sell the dogs. The council agreed the issue would have to go back to Planning and Zoning for their recommendation.

The council voted to approve two grant agreements and a loan resolution for the water project. The new agreements and resolution were presented because Rural Development is working to get the town more grant money, which would decrease the amount of the loan. If the town receives the extra grant money, the new resolution and agreements must be in place as soon as possible so funding of the project can begin.

Town Clerk Marilyn Johnson called the new council members and mayor to the front. Jennifer Lukus, Tony Zaccaria and Scott Heaton stood before a packed room, raised their right hands and were sworn into their new positions.

Georgian Heaton was recognized for her years of dedication and service to the town as she stepped down from her temporary position on the council.

The new council presented former Mayor Dixie Judd with a key to the city and framed resolution praising her work for the town. Former council member Greg Honey was also presented with this honor. Both received standing ovations and expressions of appreciation for their many years of service.