A new era of the Waterloo City Council began Monday night with the same familiar faces that have been serving in recent years.
Four aldermen — Russ Thomas (Ward 1), Rita Trantham (Ward 2), Gerry Frederick (Ward 3), and Vicki Koerber (Ward 4) — were sworn in by City Clerk Barbara Pace to begin newly elected terms following an April election in which none of the four candidates were opposed. All but Frederick have served prior terms on the council — although Frederick has served since being appointed to fill the seat of Jim Nagel, who accepted the zoning administrator post in 2011.
Monday’s meeting also saw Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith’s appointing of city officers with the consent of the council. Five of the six appointees — Nagel, Director of Public Works Tim Birk, Budget Officer Shawn Kennedy, Code Administrator/Building Inspector Russ Row and Waterloo Police Chief Jim Trantham — were given unanimous consent by the council to continue their service with the city.
One appointee, City Attorney Daniel Hayes, received one dissenting vote on his way to approval. Alderman Steve Notheisen cast the lone “No” vote, explaining afterward to the Republic-Times he had communicated to the mayor “several issues” over the past two years where, in the alderman’s opinion, the attorney “has given the city council unsound legal advice.”
Notheisen also said he has pointed out instances of “unprofessional behavior” by the city attorney to the mayor, including “fits of temper” and “being unprepared” for certain meetings.
“I believe that my ‘No’ vote did not come as a surprise to either the mayor or the city attorney,” Notheisen said.
The alderman added he hopes to see improvement going forward, and also respects the mayor’s decision to re-appoint Hayes.
“I am sure the mayor is doing what he thinks is best for the city,” Notheisen said. “I hope the mayor also respects the fact that not all aldermen will agree with him from time to time and I have never been one to hold back on my opinions.”
When reached on Tuesday, Mayor Smith declined comment other than saying “everyone’s entitled to their opinion.”
In other news from Monday night, Police Chief Trantham reported that a whopping 286 pounds of unused or outdated prescription and over-the-counter drugs were collected by the Drug Enforcement Administration during an April 29 emptying of the 24-hour disposal box located inside the police station lobby.
The DEA’s last pick-up in Waterloo was in October, so this total represents drugs collected over six months.
“This, by far, is the single biggest pick-up we’ve had,” Trantham said.
The council approved the purchase of two 2013 Chevrolet Impala police cars, and the department plans to trade in 2001 and 2002 Crown Victorias from its fleet.
Sunset Acres resident Harvey Huffman addressed the council, expressing concern about brief disruptions in electric service at his house.
Birk explained the very short outages are most likely caused by squirrels that span two wires of differing potential near a transformer, resulting in the animals getting zapped.
The city has been placing rubber “squirrel guards” on wires near transformers where past such occurrences have been identified, Birk said. He urged residents to let the public works department know of locations where similar glitches have occurred, so workers can place these guards in the proper areas.
Birk also reported that the city was awarded funding through an Illinois Department of Transportation committee for a 2017 street overlay project on Osterhage Drive, Bradford Lane and Hamacher Street. Total cost of the project is $525,000, with the city only having to pay $132,000.
Mayor Smith added that a sidewalk improvement project on Lakeview Drive from Route 156 to Library Street is set for engineering in the fall with possible bidding in 2014.