Mowing contractor defends his obligations

Toulon Council approve $19k in tree removal, looks at splash pad

By Jason Musselman

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Conversations over the mowing at the Toulon Cemetery were contentious at Monday night’s monthly council meeting.

City attorney Bruce Fehrenbacher told the council he had reviewed the contract, but also noted that the council had stated conditions had improved at the last special council meeting.

Mayor Larry Hollis said since Memorial Day he’s been keeping a closer eye on the situation and that Jeffrey Lape of Integrity Lawn Service has been doing a better job. Mr. Lape was allowed to then speak.

In a 20 minute exchange, Mr. Lape stated he had fulfilled the terms of the contract and that if the council wanted the whole cemetery to be mowed for Memorial Day, then that should have been stated in the contract and it wasn’t. Mr. Lape stated he had a bill to submit for picking up clippings that belonged to the City of Toulon.

He continued talking about grass growth which is around ¾” per day and grass clippings that he said the Mayor stated the city would see about removing. Several council members, including Ryan Kelly, who previously met at the cemetery with Mr. Lape, questioned him.

“Why was the front mowed twice?” said Kelly, referring to an ad placed in the Prairie Shopper by Mr. Lape. “I think you just wanted the front to look good because that’s what you can see from the road.”

One item discussed was the supposed conditions that were unapparent at the time of the bidding, like bushes, plants and headstone decorations. There are no rules about what can and cannot be placed around graves.

“You can’t tell me you couldn’t see those bushes when you inspected it [for bid],” said Kelly.

“All we want is for the cemetery to look good,” added Mayor Hollis after some tense moments. The discussion ended with no action.

Prior to the exchange the council held an executive session for the purpose of employee performance for nearly a half-hour. Afterwards Mayor Hollis stated he had no comment and no action was taken.

In other business, the council approved an additional four tons of mulch for the Toulon City Park at a cost of $2,600 to bring the total amount to a full truck load of 22 tons.

A large number of dead and damaged trees will be coming down this summer. The council approved $11,725 worth of tree removal throughout Toulon to Saw-N-Logs. TIF funds will cover all but $3,925 worth of that project and the general fund budget of $4,250 for tree removal will more than cover the remaining.

Another $7,950 worth of tree removal was approved for the cemetery, which is paid for via a special cemetery fund and not tax dollars.

The council is looking into why several residents were allowed to post mailboxes in front of house that were not theirs without permission. Two residents were present to complain about the situation which they say the USPS directed. According to Mayor Hollis, an ordinance from 1976 states that nobody can put a mailbox up without submitting a permit – yet none have been ever filed or approved.

A splash pad may be in the future for Toulon. The zero-depth water feature, which features small jets of water and required no lifeguard, was discussed. Prices ranges from $45,000 to $110,000 and could be expanded in the future. The council will investigate further.

Finally, a land swap with Gary Bent over property between the ball diamonds and the old meat locker continues. Back when Kyle Ham was mayor the project began to swap a small swath of land that Gary owned but was enclosed by the ball diamond’s outfield fence for an equal size swatch adjacent. In order for the project to proceed now the diamond has to be resurveyed and paperwork filed.

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