The Board of Aldermen met for a workshop session on May 31st to discuss their goals for the City for the next few years. Mayor Mike Todd stated he requested the meeting to give returning and new members an opportunity to discuss issues of importance in each of the city's three wards and to hear from City staff regarding department goals and projects.
Alderman Knox emphasized the need to look at improving streets and curbs in downtown neighborhoods, particularly Front Street and Walnut.
Alderman Ryan Skinner mentioned the traffic at Duncan and Buckner Tarsney, and City Administrator Ken Murphy indicated that City staff has been in contact with MODOT regarding the intersection and will continue to push for the area to be addressed.
Skinner also brought up school resource officers, and indicated their staffing levels and training were one of his priorities. Skinner asked Police Chief James Beale about the department's training, any multi-jurisdictional training that occurs with neighboring departments and first responders, and training that takes place inside the schools. Beale stated the department does engage in multi-jurisdictional training and feels confident officers are receiving adequate training.
"I'd like to say our guys are highly trained. The schools also have things in place as well in an incident were to happen. I would offer (that the aldermen attend) when they do training at the school. You'll be really impressed with what they have in place," Beale said.
Alderman Dale Arnold mentioned economic development, and requested information regarding the Grain Valley Partnership's efforts to attract businesses to the area, and how aldermen might best assist in development efforts.
Mayor Todd shared the City is planning meetings with the three main developers in town as well business receptions to discuss attracting new businesses and supporting existing businesses.
City staff shared the City had just received word they were approved for a grant from Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) to begin work on revitalizing the downtown district.
Reached for comment regarding the Community Empowerment Grant awarded to the City from MMSC, Deputy City Administrator Theresa Osenbaugh said the matching grant will provide mentorship services over a two year period as work begins to revitalize downtown. Details regarding the grant and the process with MMSC will be presented to the Board later this month.
Community Development Director Mark Trosen highlighted projects the Public Works department is conducting, noting that the department is operating at 50% of its public maintenance workforce. There are three openings for public maintenance workers that have not been filled.
Police Chief James Beale shared the department has been able to offer in-house continuing education trainings, allowing officers to complete the required 24 hours of training by June and freeing up funds to provide additional specialized training. Beale also shared the department has purchased two drones and Captain Palecek is in the process of completing the required FAA licensing test. The drones can be utilized for a number of tasks, including searching for missing persons and providing aerial images for the City.
Additionally, the Police Advisory Council, which was set to begin work right before the COVID-19 pandemic, has regrouped and will begin meeting again soon.
In other business, Alderman Cleaver was appointed Mayor Pro Tem. The Board also approved a liquor license, allowing Iron Kettle Brewing to sell alcohol in the Armstrong Prak pavilion area on Food Truck Fridays. Todd indicated current Ward boundaries will likely be updated as a result of the recent Census.
The next meeting of the Board of Aldermen will be held at 7:00pm on June 13th at City Hall.