by Danny Wade
Humboldt alderman had the task of naming a new school board member during their March 27 meeting. The seat was vacated when Lee Williams resigned from the school board to accept a job in Fort Worth, Tex.
During the March 13 city board meeting, Mayor Marvin Sikes requested Alderman Bob Pruett make a nomination and present it to the board. Pruett serves in the same precinct as Williams.
Last Monday night Pruett said he had a list of candidates.
“My recommendation is Wayne McLemore,” Pruett told the board. “I interviewed three different candidates and he stood out as the best.”
Alderman Don Graves motioned to accept Pruett’s nomination and appoint McLemore to the school board. Pruett seconded the motion.
Alderman Leon McNeal attempted to block a vote. He said there was no need to replace Williams on the school board since the remaining four members would make a quorum. McNeal once again brought up the fact that Humboldt schools are 90-percent black.
“We have a duty to appoint (the school board member),” Graves replied.
“I want my district represented,” Pruett stated.
McNeal asked McLemore if the worked with former superintendent Butch Twyman. That’s when Mayor Sikes stopped McNeal’s questioning and said this was not an interview with McLemore.
“He’s been with the schools a long time,” Alderman James Shiver noted. “He coached my kids. My dad and his dad were friends. Everybody knows him. I think he will be good (for the schools).”
In a roll call vote, Shivers, Graves, Pruett and Alderlady Donna Johnson voted to appoint McLemore to the school board. McNeal, who is also a school board member, did not recuse himself from voting and casted the lone no vote.
Some in the audience thought McNeal’s vote to replace a school board member by a sitting school board member was a conflict of interest.
McLemore will serve on the school board through the end of the year. The remaining two years of the term will be up for vote during the November election. This will get the election back on its 4-year cycle.
Another controversial piece of city business was hiring the code enforcement officer to a full time position, at the request of Mayor Sikes. All board members were on board except McNeal.
“I’m asking the board to consider hiring Jeanna Shellenberger full time,” Sikes said. “She’s a contracted worker now but her job has evolved and she does more than just code enforcement. She takes care of city building maintenance with one trustee from the county—city hall, Municipal Building, the chamber. I’m asking the board to consider (hiring Shellenberger full time).”
Johnson asked the mayor what her salary is. Sikes said she makes $630 per week but has no benefits and has to file her taxes and social security on her own.
“We would keep her at the same pay except with benefits like sick leave and vacation time,” Sikes explained. “She has 150 cases going right now.”
McNeal balked at her pay saying, “$630 is $2,400 per month. That’s more than some other workers for the city. John (Morrison) can handle it (code enforcement). John supposed to do this by the (city) charter. She (Shellenberger) took the job part-time.”
“I disagree,” Sikes told McNeal. “John’s job (city inspector) is discussed in the charter. The charter does not mention Jeanna’s job.”
Pruett did not see what the issue was. “She will get the same money—just take out taxes and social security,” he noted.
“Some have been working 10 to 15 years, busting their butts for the city,” McNeal continued his displeasure. “I cannot support this.”
“What’s the difference?” Shivers asked McNeal. “She’s getting the same pay.”
Even though discussion had gone on for several minutes, Mayor Sikes asked for a motion to change the code enforcement officer position from a contract position to a full-time city position.
Johnson made the motion and Pruett seconded the motion. The vote was approved 4-1 with McNeal voting against the change.
Pruett asked the mayor if it was in the budget. Sikes replied that it would be in next year’s 2017-18 budget.
•The board also approved the first reading of Ordinance 2017-1 to amend the zoning ordinance to increase the maximum square footage and maximum height of freestanding signs in commercial and industrial district.
Morrison told the board that the zoning appeals board has been giving variances to businesses due to the outdated ordinance that only allows 20 sq. ft. signage. The new amendment would allow for 150 sq. ft. and an extended height up to 40 ft. He added that this change would put Humboldt in line with other cities in the area.
The first reading was approved. A second reading will be held during the next city board meeting before the amended ordinance gets final approval.