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Monday, October 7, 2019

Alexandria City Council Honors Neighbors and Encourages More Community Input

Alexandria city officials will look into new city signage to replace their current temporary one.

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

Citizen accomplishments and input were the main focus of discussion at the September 19 city council meeting in Alexandria. The meeting started with recognition of local residents and a business and ended with council members and Mayor Andy Schabell encouraging more residents to step forward and share their accomplishments.

Ryan and Carly Neltner of 1298 Poplar Ridge were honored with the city’s Summer Beautification Award for their inviting front yard and the effort they have put in to improve curb appeal in their neighborhood.

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Council member Sue Neltner, who is chair of the city Beautification Committee, announced the start of a new award for fall, the best Fall or Halloween yard in the city. To enter, residents should email a member of the committee with the address of their favorite decorated yard by 2 p.m. on October 25. In addition to Neltner, council members Kyle Sparks and Tom Baldridge are members of the committee.

The city also recognized and honored a long-time Alexandria veterinarian with a proclamation declaring September 20 "Dr. Barry Heineke Day." In business for more than 35 years, Dr. Heineke opened the Heineke Animal Hospital at 5 Orlando Drive in 1997 and is celebrating the opening of a new 6,700-square-foot facility that replaces his old building.

"After 22 years, it became very apparent we were outgrowing the building. One of the big reasons was the addition of my son Dr. Brandon Heineke to the business," Dr. Heineke explained.

Last year his oldest son, Nick Heineke, who was a teacher at Highlands High School, decided to join the family business as practice manager. "The new hospital is my legacy to my family and, hopefully some day, my grandchildren will be a part of it," Dr. Heineke said.

Proud of his business and his family, he has important goals for the new hospital. He plans to apply for accreditation from the American Animal Hospital Association, one of the top-tier credentialing organizations for veterinary medicine in the country.

"Over the next year, we will become one of the few hospitals in the United States that qualify for that award...We hope to be one of the very few." The hospital was designed with the AAHA designation in mind, he said.

"I wanted a facility that we could be very proud of and the city could be very proud of," he said.

Citizens encouraged to share news and accomplishments

At the meeting, council members encouraged residents to share their news with the city and the community at large.

"The mayor and the city council are very proactive with issues," said council member Stacey Graus. "Anything you have on your mind, let us know. If we need to do anything about it, we will get on it."

Neltner said the council especially welcomes residents who have accomplishments and news about awards they’d like to share. "If you’ve received any kind of outstanding award...please contact us, let us know. We really want to recognize you if you are living here in the city of Alexandria. We want to make sure you are honored for your recognition."

The mayor echoed the council members' call for input and news. He added that the council also welcomes information about local businesses and what they are doing in the community. "Any business that wants to come up explain their business, tell us about yourself. We would love to have you at our city council meeting.

"We are very forward thinking and open to any and all ideas," he said. "Shoot us an email, get in touch with us on Facebook. Let us know...And we want to do things we’ve never done before in this city."

More city business

City attorney Mike Duncan provided first readings of two budget-related ordinances. The first ordinance amended the fiscal year 2018-19 budget with a transfer of funds to balance out the end of the year. The second fixed an issue with the 2019-20 fiscal year budget. A pass-through item, the sewer fund budget, was inadvertently left off the new general fund budget and the ordinance would put it back into the budget document.

Police Chief Lucas Cooper took the opportunity at the meeting to recognize Sergeant Kevin Mathews. Effective September 30, the sergeant retired after 29 years in law enforcement, the last 20 of those in the Alexandria Police Department, said Cooper. "I want to recognize him for his service both here and in the state of Texas for the years he spent there."

The chief also announced his department would be taking applications until October 4 for a new police social worker. Bruna Souza has taken a position with the Kentucky state police to help them start their program, he explained.

The mayor reported that a new Comprehensive Plan committee is being formed to assist and support the work of the Planning and Zoning Commission as it reviews the city’s plan. The committee, will include a resident, a business owner, a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission and a member of the Fire Department.

Ongoing discussions and concerns

City council members discussed an issue with Rumpke. Neltner said she has received complaints that trucks for the refuse and recycling service have been arriving very early in the morning to collect in area subdivisions. The city has an agreement with the service that no trucks will arrive in the community before 6 a.m. City Clerk Jan Johannemann will speak with Rumpke on the matter.

Subdivision street lighting was another discussion. As is required by the city’s sub division regulations, electric bills for lights on city streets in a sub division are paid for by the city. As part of the regulations, the city council must review and approve the payment of the bills. It was decided that a vote by the council was not necessary. The city will recommend a change to the planning commission to allow the bills to be approved by the mayor without a full council vote. Members agreed this would make the process more efficient.

The proposed dog park discussion continued from previous meetings. Neltner asked if a parcel of land owned by the city in Brookwood (at 2443 Hickory Wood Court) might be suitable. She suggested a walk through the area to discern whether it might be an option. Graus was concerned about the feasibility of parking and access in the area. Public Works Superintendent Sam Trapp will take a look at the property in question and report back to council.

Council also discussed the need for a nicer looking permanent sign for the city. Cost is a factor, but all agreed permanent signage that meets city regulations is needed. The mayor suggested a new sign be added to discussion of the next city budget. In the meantime Trapp has been asked to investigate who owns the property on which the current temporary sign sits, and how the city might partner with the owner (either the state or Duke Energy) to put a more permanent sign in that location. Council members also discussed ideas for cost savings on construction of a sign.

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