Council members reluctant to serve on planning commission, but one has to

By Ralph Echtinaw

There’s a vacancy on the St. Louis Planning Commission that must be filled by a city council person, but none of them seem to want it.

The city’s code of ordinances requires that the nine-member body be composed of the mayor, one city council member, one city administrator and six residents appointed by city council. 

The city council slot is vacant. City Manager Kurt Giles asked at Tuesday’s meeting if any of the four council members want the position. George Kubin and Bill Leonard said they have conflicting obligations and can’t do it. That leaves Liz Upton and Roger Collison, neither of whom agreed to do it at the meeting.

Upton told the Sentinel via email that “my family circumstances at this point are barely allowing me time to attend the city council meetings, therefore I cannot agree to take on any other commitments.”

Contacted by phone Friday, Collison said he would give it some thought and discuss it at the March 1 council meeting.

The planning commission meets on an as-needed basis at 5:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month.

Parks and Rec vacancies

There are two vacancies on the Parks and Recreation Commission following the resignation of Councilwoman Upton.

Upton was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission on Sept. 7 last year when she was a candidate for city council. The commission has met four times since then.

“I joined (the Parks and Recreation Commission) because the former mayor asked me to join when I went to him about the rubber mulch,” Upton said via email. “Other than that it wasn’t my plan to join. I am now on city council, as well, and my family circumstances at this point are barely allowing me time to attend the city council meetings, therefore I cannot agree to take on any other commitments.”

The other vacancy will likely be filled by Craig Zeese, 63, who lives on South Franklin Street, Giles said. “I think he’d be an excellent addition.” Zeese’s appointment is expected to be on the council agenda for March 1.

The Parks and Recreation Commission meets 5 p.m. on second Monday every other month.

New firearms instructors

Police Chief Richard J. Ramereiz Jr. announced that officers Jon Rugenstein and Scott Ferris are stepping down as department firearms instructors after 15 years. They will still serve as department armorers, but will no longer be instructors. 

Officers Ryan Bahlke and Brett Morell “were chomping at the bit to become firearm instructors, so they will be undergoing training in May and June to be firearms instructors for handgun and rifle,” Ramereiz told city council. “And later I have to get them into a shotgun class.”

St. Louis police officers practice shooting four times a year. Their range is behind the wastewater treatment plant.

Crack seal purchase

Council voted to buy two pallets of material to seal cracks in city roads from National Highway Maintenance System for $5,220. The NHMS will loan crack seal application equipment to the city.

Closed session

Council members met in closed session after the regular meeting Tuesday to discuss contract negotiations with the Police Officers of Association of Michigan group. Giles said no action was taken. The current police union contract expires on June 30.

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