Austin council honors three retirees for service

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Smiles and laughter led off the evening at the Austin City Council meeting Tuesday as three city retirees were honored for their long service.

Doug Root, a 36-year employee of the streets department, snapped up the opportunity to sit in City Engineer Jon Erichson’s seat at the council meeting to receive his plaque, but declined to give that department the week off while he was there.

Email newsletter signup

Bob Belden was honored for his 39 years with the city. Like Root, he retired as an operator with the street department, and he also accepted his plaque while seated in Erichson’s chair.

Wayne Wollenberg didn’t oust Police Chief Paul Philipp when honored for his 23 years with the department. Instead, he said he would be spending this part of his retirement at least as a househusband and taking it easy.

With the Second Ward seat vacated by Todd Penske yet to be filled, Gloria Nordin unable to attend and City Administrator Pat McGarvey out sick, council seats were sparsely filled at the meeting, but enough bodies were available to vote and take care of business, so that’s what the council did as rapidly as possible.

SPAM™TOWN USA festival director Cindy Samuel and chairman Greg Brown came before the council to request permission to seal off a stretch of Main Street on July 4 for the street dance.

"We spoke to Chief Philipp about it and he gave us some advice we will be acting on," Samuel said. These tidbits include making sure there are clear beverage cups used by the Jaycees beer garden and other merchants so officials can see who is drinking. Another recommendation was using neon wristbands for easy identification of those old enough to be drinking.

Some of the bands announced by Brown for the dance include Incognito, High Noon and local favorites Thunder Road.

The council passed the request unanimously. The council also heard the complaints of several Austin residents about assessments for street projects completed in 1999. Many people had objected to their assessments, but upon speaking with officials for the city, 30 to 35 of those people dropped their complaints. Erichson assured those with ongoing concerns that hearings would be set for them in the near future.

The council also approved the park pavilion plan for St. Paul’s Church near the bandshell, which authorizes the city to apply for a Department of Natural Resources grant. This plan will see the basement of the church filled in and a slab laid over it to turn the church into a pavilion for families. Council member at-large Dick Chaffee commented that the toilets that will be a part of the project can only add benefit to the already outstanding park.

Also approved was the joint purchase by city and county of a used "speed trailer."

The trailer is a mobile unit that can be dropped off in any neighborhood to display the set speed limit and the speed a driver is currently going.

"Is this going to be part of a speed trap?" Third Ward councilman Dick Lang asked.

"No," Philipp assured him, "Drivers sometimes may have slipped over the limit without realizing."

The trailer will serve as a reminder of what posted speeds actually are, Philipp said, and some may be surprised at their rate of speed in residential areas.

The city’s cost on this item, which is used, would be $5,000, the same as the county’s.

"I believe this was Jon Erichson’s idea," Second Ward Councilman Jeanne Poppe said.

Erichson explained that sometimes the street department gets complaints about speeding in neighborhoods where it would not be appropriate to put up stop signs, and that hopefully the trailer will bring people into line.