July 18, 2024

Afton Council sees shuffling of duties

Greenlawn Cemetery was subject to a discussion from concerned citizens regarding board procedure and maintenance of the land.

AFTON - Council members Kristie Nixon and Sheryl Parham will be swapping duties regarding the committees they oversee.

The final item on the agenda of Tuesday’s Afton city council meeting saw an update on the various committees council members oversee.

Kristie Nixon, the council member who oversees the cemetery board, reported a repeated group has visited cemetery board meetings with complaints, but due to public forum rules, the board is unable to make a decision based on the group’s concerns.

Nixon followed up with her concerns over the capacity of the cemetery board.

“This is just my own personal opinion, I don’t think we need a cemetery board,” said Nixon. “It’s a city cemetery, it should be run by the city. The board can’t make financial decisions, can’t make any rule changes.”

Because of this, Nixon claimed she wouldn’t be the best council member for the cemetery board. She will swap duties with Sheryl Parham, who had overseen emergency management.

Besides organizing events and maintaining the cemetery property, the cemetery board also has the duty to appoint a caretaker. However, Greenlawn cemetery has not had a caretaker since 2021. Without a caretaker, the capacity the board has to make decisions is diminished.

Position openings have hit the city in various ways over the summer. The city is still looking for a utility clerk, who would work part-time in city hall. A rec board position is still open as well.

The cemetery board has already faced a vacancy this year, which was filled by Katie Stoll following her approval by the council on Tuesday, Jeff Burger had abstained from the vote. But, the council expects another resignation soon.

The council expects Jacob Walter to resign from the cemetery board. Nixon said that Walter was not committed to Afton.

“He works in Osceola, he gets his mail in Creston, he has a home in Afton, and works in Des Moines,” said Nixon. “He’s kind of all over the place.”

Nixon said Walter was a helpful member of the cemetery board with his commitment to researching other areas and how they ran their cemeteries. Walter had been attending the meetings up until the last two he was absent.

The council did not vote to close the cemetery board, although left the topic open for future discussion.

In other Afton council news...

Council approved an amendment to the ordinance pertaining to solid waste collection fees. These fees will be set to $21.50 for 96-gallon containers and $16.25 for 35-gallon containers for qualifying elderly or disabled residents.

Previous fees were set in 2018 at $20.75 for 96-gallon and $16 for 35-gallon. The amendment followed a second reading of the ordinance, with the council approving a waive of a third reading.

Parking on the square in front of city hall and the Harris Apartments building during snow removal was discussed. Jesse Shade proposed moving vehicles across the street to the park parking spaces.

Shade described scenarios where cars parked along the sidewalk in front of the buildings would interfere with the snow removal process. The council approved a letter to be sent the landlord and residents to ask them to move their vehicles. The matter could be revisited if further action is needed.

Seven exterior beautification grants were approved on Tuesday. Each grant offers up to $500 to applicants who wish to renovate city property. Two of the grant applications marked a budget under $500, but the council marked a commitment of up to $500 if billing rose above the estimated amount. A budget of $5,000 is set by the city for these grants per year.

The council received confirmation from the Iowa DOT for closing a portion of Highway 169 from Polk Street to Railroad Street for the Union County Fair Parade on July 20. Traffic will be detoured to Railroad Street and Pierce Street. The road will be closed for the parade starting at 5:30 p.m. and will open at 6 p.m.

Council member Steve Kinyon was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

Nick Pauly

News Reporter for Creston News Advertiser. Raised and matured in the state of Iowa, Nick Pauly developed a love for all forms of media, from books and movies to emerging forms of media such as video games and livestreaming.