Durham council unlocks water hydrant

Duke resigns; council tables accepting resignation

Contributing writer

Many Durham residents attended the city council meeting June 4 to protest a decision the council made in May.

Council member Verlin Sommerfeld presented Mayor Mike Sorensen and the council with a petition signed by 84 people.

“To the Durham City Council: The Durham City Council recently voted to place a lock on the hydrant in the Durham City Park, thereby denying access to water for those using the park,” the petition said. “Children playing there and visitors to the park can no longer get a drink of water there. People using the shelter cannot have water to clean up after using the facilities. This casts a negative image on our city. Cost of water is extremely minimal. Retail cost of 250 gallons of water is $1.”

“The total charge of water going through the park meter in four years was $104,” council member Gary Unruh said. The metered water use includes the toilets and sinks in the restrooms, as well as the hydrant.

A number of residents addressed the council on the issue. Joyce Medley said she had carried water from her own home to clean the restrooms, adding, “Perhaps I should charge for my water.”

“From hearing the minutes it sounded like we spent about six months of water getting a lock,” Tom Harmon said.

“When I take my son to the park to play, it is nice if he can get a drink,” Audrianna Cook said.

Curtis Wiens said the Baptist church will have vacation Bible school soon. The children attending are often taken to the park for play time, and it would be convenient to have access to water for drinks and cleanup.

“I hope you will reconsider,” Harmon said. “If you can’t find it in your heart to reconsider, I’ll pay for the water. I can give you a check tonight for $36 to cover this year’s water, and come Jan. 1, I’ll give you another for next year if you still want it.”

Discussion continued until Sommerfeld moved to unlock the hydrant. Unruh seconded the motion. The proposal passed after Sommerfeld and Unruh voted in favor of it; Gene Duke, Ed Flaming, and Gary Gerringer abstained.

The council approved for Harmon to continue monitoring the city burn pile. He performed the service while he had been on the council and volunteered to continue despite not filing for re-election.

After discussing an issue with the sewer pump, Flaming asked whether it was legal for Sorensen to be the mayor while being a paid employee as the water and sewer supervisor. He had read a news story about Mullinville having trouble over a similar issued.

The council voted 4-1 to allow Sorensen to continue as water and sewer supervisor. Gerringer voted against it.

“It is in violation of state statutes,” he said. “I believe we have people in the community who need the work, and maybe we did not pursue that enough. If Mike wants to continue, he should resign as mayor.”

“If I resign as mayor, I would also resign from water and sewer,” Sorenson replied.

Toward the end of the meeting, Duke slammed a letter down in front of the mayor.

“That’s my resignation. I’m out of here,” Duke said before marching out of the meeting.

Sommerfeld reminded the council that Duke’s resignation isn’t final until the council accepts it, and he moved to accept the resignation. Unruh requested the matter be tabled until July.

 

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