Rethwisch resigns from Lansing City Council

by B.J. Tomlinson

The Lansing City Council met in regular session Monday night, June 20 and reluctantly accepted the resignation, effective immediately, of Councilman John Rethwisch. In an e-mail message to the Council, Rethwisch cited conflicts with others and a belief that his involvement was disruptive to the Council as the reasons for his decision.

The Council discussed options for replacing Rethwisch and voted to appoint a new member until the next general election, which will be in November of this year. At that time, the newly-elected member will serve the three years remaining on Rethwisch’s original four-year term; the Council will also officially post the open position.

The Council reviewed and approved an annual donation of $500 to the Lansing Fourth of July Fireworks Fund and a $10,000 payment to the Lansing Fire Department for equipment. The Council also reviewed and approved a salary of $40,000 for Street Superintendent Ken Ripp based on his performance, qualifications and skills that save the City money.

People Service representative Heath Draeger addressed the Council regarding difficulty with Well #4. Draeger said the City, which has been conducting tests every three years, is now required by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to monitor radium readings every quarter. He said this well has always been “on the bubble” because radium readings have exceeded Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limits on and off, and has recently failed again. He said the radium cannot be tasted or smelled but can have long-term health effects. Informational letters will be sent to water customers and People Service is looking into treatment methods.

Draeger said the cause of the problem could be due to the depth of the well. He also said the well is losing volume, that there may be holes in the drop pipe and that the pump may need rebuilding. Two bids were received to diagnose the problem. Draeger introduced Larry Kuecker, Project and Safety Manager of Cahoy Well and Pump Service in Sumner. Kuecker explained that they would not be able to diagnose the problem until the pump is pulled and a video examination completed. The Council awarded the bid for this preliminary work to Cahoy at a cost of $3,463. In the meantime, People Service will continue to monitor the readings, shut off Well #4 and use Well #1.

Street Superintendent Ken Ripp and the Council discussed the City’s Nuisance Ordinance because two residents who continue to be in violation and have been notified have still not cleaned up their property. The Council rescinded the previous $75 per hour clean-up charge and approved a $300 per hour charge for City workers to clean up properties that have been and continue to be safety hazards. “These properties do not just have tall grass, they are so congested with weeds and junk that the fire department or EMTs could not safely enter the premises in case of an emergency,” Mayor Mike Brennan said.

Parks Board representative Marlene Duffy and the Council reviewed a conflict between the Boy Scouts and the Lansing Mudcats baseball team concerning the concession stand at the Sports Complex. After a lengthy discussion, the Council determined that the Mudcats would manage concessions at their games and the Boys Scouts would provide concessions for the City Recreation games. The Boy Scouts were also awarded the right of first refusal for concessions during the annual Fish Days celebration.
In other business, the Council is asking residents to clean up after their dogs and have instructed Police to start issuing citations. Councilman Don Peters and others reported that all grassy areas in the City, especially those near the Marina, have become extremely problematic.

After serving on the Library Board for 17 years, Rita Heim submitted her resignation. With regret, the Council approved the request and will post the open position.

The Council discussed hiring an Assistant Swimming Pool Manager. After reviewing two applications, the Council agreed to hire Tammy Manning for the position at a salary of $9 per hour, not to exceed a workload of 20 hours per week.