Council honors teen hero

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Angie Scheimo, the 16-year-old girl who led her charges to safety on New Year’s Eve when a fire started in the home where she was baby-sitting, was recognized by the Austin City Council on Tuesday night.

Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Angie Scheimo, the 16-year-old girl who led her charges to safety on New Year’s Eve when a fire started in the home where she was baby-sitting, was recognized by the Austin City Council on Tuesday night.

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After noticing smoke in the kitchen of the White home, Scheimo located the fire in a basement bedroom and led Kelsie and Jordan White across the street.

"God bless you for doing what you did for my children," Kelsie and Jordan’s mother, Kim White, said during the meeting. "I’m so glad that you are Kourtney’s best friend." Kelsie and Jordan’s older sister Kourtney and Kim White’s daughter is Scheimo’s friend.

Scheimo and Kim White hugged after White thanked her and the people of Austin who have helped her and her family in the aftermath of the fire.

During the meeting, Fire Chief Dan Wilson presented Scheimo with a plaque and a shirt "in recognition of (her) great escape." Wilson said for three years the theme of Fire Prevention Week has been "Fire Drills: The Great Escape." He said that most fires in the home allow only a two-minute time period in which a family can exit safely.

Mayor Bonnie Rietz acknowledged Scheimo’s courage by reading a letter of commendation.

"Your bravery is something you can be very proud of. You are an excellent example for others of how you recalled what you had learned in fire safety lessons in school and then applied to save lives," Rietz said.

"The smoke detectors didn’t go off, so I think that that helped me to stay calm," Scheimo said after the presentation. Kim White said that when she called to check on the kids and was informed by Scheimo that the house was on fire, she "just told her to get the kids out."

Scheimo had already told Kelsie and Jordan to put on their boots and coats before White called. "Our family had had fire drills and knew the meeting place," said White.

While Jordan White was able to tell Scheimo where the meeting place was, the cold temperatures that night induced Scheimo and the two White children to take shelter in a neighbor’s house, where they were later reunited with Kim White.

Variance denied

The council approved a motion denying the 620-square-foot variance requested by Austin resident Steven Carroll. Carroll intended to construct a 1,620-square-foot accessory building on his property at 2406 12th Ave. SW.

The variance request was initially reviewed by the planning commission in September and after Zoning Administrator Craig Hoium engaged in fact finding and reported to the council, the council denied Carroll’s request for a variance during the Oct. 2 meeting.

Carroll repetitioned for a variance on Oct. 23 and the Planning Commission again denied the request for a variance on Dec. 12 with a vote of 7-0.

"The Planning Commission felt that the variance was not in the best interest of the neighborhood due to the size of the proposed structure," Hoium said.

Councilmen Wayne Goodnature and Pete Christopherson asked about other variances granted in the area and the setbacks on the property. Hoium responded that each property is looked at specifically and individually and that the issue "has nothing to do with setbacks, but with the size of the building."

In making the motion to approve the denial of the variance, Councilman Dick Lang said that he respects "the judgment of the Planning Commission and Austin building officials. We need to point to facts and stick to facts."

The vote on the motion was 4-2, with Christopherson and Lang opposing the denial of the variance.

After the meeting Lang commented in his vote. "I looked at the size of his lot. Here’s a young man who wants to improve his property. He pays his taxes and wants to put equity into the community."

Carroll stated in response to a question from Goodnature that he will construct the accessory building at 1000-square-feet since the variance request was denied. After the meeting Hoium confirmed that that is the only recourse available to him.

Other council business

n The council approved the submission of a formal application submitted by City Engineer Jon Erichson, requesting a flood study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE). If the cost of the study exceeds $100,000, the city and the ACE will need to enter into a cost-sharing agreement.


This study will be conducted jointly with members of Mower County Soil and Water Conservation.

n The council approved the variance request petitioned by Jon Boyer of Precision Signs. Boyer was asking for a variance of 13 percent green space on his property at 207 Main St. S.

"The planning commission found that the structure did not adversely affect the surrounding neighborhood," Hoium said.

After a question by Lang about the possibility of establishing more concrete laws to avoid variances, City Attorney Dave Hoversten said that "state law provides for variances."

"It is not possible to in all cases deny variances," Hoversten said. "We have to work within the framework of the case and state law."

The council voted to approve the motion to approve the variance with a vote of 7-0.

n The council approved the motion for a street dance on Main Street during the SPAM Town USA Festival.

n The council approved the purchase of the Adrianus Struyk property, otherwise known as Spanky’s Bar. The property will be purchased by the city and leased to Struyk until June 1, while he relocates his business.

The city expects to clear the property and create interim parking to be used by the city of Austin, City Administrator Pat McGarvey said.

"I regret that the building will go," said Councilwoman Mickey Jorgenson. "It had charm and I would have liked to have seen it stay."

The council voted 5-0 to approve the purchase and lease agreements, with Lang abstaining.

n Liliana Silvestry of The Welcome Center thanked the council for the fiscal year 2000 funding and presented information on the successes to date of The Welcome Center.

"When people come here from other countries, they deserve the same opportunities our ancestors received," said. "The cycle comes back."

Councilman Dick Lang added that people who require help and who are not Hispanic or are newcomers are also being helped by The Welcome Center.

n A public hearing on the Small Cities Development Program for the Whittier Neighborhood-Cedar View Housing Project upon its completion was set for Feb. 5.