Neosho police chief Dave McCracken will retire at the beginning of 2015.

City manager Troy Royer made the announcement before Neosho City Council during Tuesday’s regular meeting that the city’s top cop would end his more than 20 year employment with the municipality on January 2.

 “It’s been over 20 years now, and I have some other interests that I have to fill my time,” said McCracken. “I served 23 years in Joplin and 20 years plus here, and I just feel it’s time.”

He said those other interests to fill his time begin with being more available to his family.
“I do have some business interests that I’ve been operating on a part-time basis helping my wife, and I plan to get more involved in that and try to supplement our retirement and move forward from there,” McCracken said.

The council approved the first reading of a bill to revise the city fireworks regulations, but left open the possibility of making further revisions. The group turned back a previous revision of the regulations at their last meeting, and made further revisions prior to Tuesday, but may have gone too far.

Royer noted the changes include allowing fireworks sales in the city from June 30 to July 5, from the previous end date of July 10.

“The discharge of fireworks, we changed the time – it was 7 (a.m.) to 10 (p.m.) – we changed that from 7 to 11, from June 30 to July 5. We also added on July 4, that fireworks may be discharged from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. If July 5 falls on a Friday or Saturday, then fireworks may be discharged until that Sunday up to 11 p.m.”

Royer said a section was added to allow the discharge of fireworks from 5 p.m. Dec 31 until 1 a.m. Jan. 1.

To eliminate confusing language, he said a section was added that allows the storage of fireworks in the city only in a personal residence and for personal use. Royer said the language regarding torpedoes and torpedo canes was extracted, leaving just bottle rockets that are excluded from being discharged in the city.

Prior to council discussion, citizen and business owner Kevin Foote addressed council on the issue, and expressed dissatisfaction that though they could be sold on June 20, fireworks couldn’t be legally discharged in the city until June 30 under the proposed regulations.

 “It’s hard to make a profit if just selling the last section of the fourth,” said Foote. He maintained that fireworks vendors don’t make much during the extended period before the 4th of July, but it is enough to help the short-term venture be profitable.

He warned council that vendors will find it more efficient to move outside the city limits, which would cause a loss of sales tax receipts for the city; and asked that they at least compromise some on those 10 days leading up to the fourth before giving final approval to the measure.

“If this passes, I will look to go outside the city,” he said.

During council discussion, Tom Workman suggested that vendors invest a lot of time and money to erect and stock a tent, and questioned if just six days of allowed shooting of fireworks would allow recouping their expenses.

“My complaints (from citizens) that I always got were the ones after the 4th of July,” Workman said. “They’ve said they’ve pretty much had their fill.”

Royer estimated that fireworks sales generate $5,000 in sales tax for the city annually.
Mayor Richard Davidson said the new regulations would satisfy the initial concerns raised about the discharge of fireworks days after the 4th of July.

“I think we’ve done a fair job of having a compromise – allow people to still celebrate – but to say, ‘Hey, after a day or two of the fourth, you need to knock it off and come back in the next year,’” Davidson said.

Davidson said he feels Foote brought up a good point about how new regulations regarding the discharge of fireworks prior to the fourth could impact city vendors negatively.

“It’s been that way since ’96; I’ve heard no complaints about prior to the fourth, so there may be some massaging on that date,” the mayor said.

Davidson hinted the council may make some minor tweaks before approving the new regulations on second and third readings.

Davidson noted the ordinance on fireworks was first drafted in the mid-1990s, and was last amended in 1999, so it has been a long time since any change.

A list of bids were approved by the council, mostly for the public works department. Three bids totaling $9,045 were approved to allow repairs to the Crowder wastewater treatment plant.

Royer explained that lightning struck a transformer during last week’s heavy rains, and the strike continued down into an electric motor on a pump. He said the facility continues to be operable, but with less efficiency, until new parts can be installed, which will take up to a month.

Public works was also approved on numerous bids for annual allotments of various chemicals and utility needs, and for bulk street maintenance materials; and for a new service truck. Bids were also approved to provide a new truck for the parks department, and a four-wheel-drive SUV for the police department.

The council gave final approval on bills to amend the previous fiscal year budget in the police department; vacate and abandon the alley between Oak St. and Hickory; to de-annex property located on Wood St. about a half-mile east of Morse Park; and to accept and approve the Cullum Acres Subdivision on Cash St.

Ousted former city manager Jan Blase continues to affect the city budget. The council gave first reading approval to a bill to amend the current fiscal year budget for general administrative budget – health insurance and police department budget.

Royer said that accounts for the new police vehicle approved by council. Asking for two vehicles but initially only getting one because of budget restraints, he said the police department was granted the second vehicle once it was determined that threatened legislative overrides of gubernatorial vetoes would not affect sales tax receipts.

“Jan Blase has been fighting and appealing us from his termination, and he was asking for a termination package, but all that was denied,” Royer said.

Royer said Blase continued through appellate courts to keep his health insurance from the city. He said the city thought they had an agreement to pay a certain amount until the end of that year, but that was denied.

“When it actually ended up going to the Western District Court, the judge did award them the $14, 000 for COBRA benefits,” Royer said.

Royer said that money was not budgeted, and needed to be accounted for, thus the amendment.

The council also gave first reading approval to a bill to amend the previous fiscal year budget, which Royer said closes and adjusts entries for the end of the year to clean up the books before they are reviewed by auditors.

The council approved the 2015 Celebrate Neosho Younkin Airshow agreement. Public relations and events coordinator Wes Franklin reported that aerobatics artist Matt Younkin will provide both a day and night time show on June 27, as he has done in 2012 and 2014, and will ferry in a skydiving act. Franklin implied the aerobatics shows performed at the previous three Celebrate Neosho events have come to be expected. He said the cost of the agreement is $10,500.

Davidson replied that people are beginning to view Celebrate Neosho as an annual aerobatics show on the Saturday before July 4th.

“I’m glad to see it evolve and gain popularity,” said Davidson.

The council could not re-appointed Kyle Franklin to a three year term on the Airport Industrial Board, as Steve Hart voted “no” and, with both David Ruth and Charles Collinsworth absent, the remaining two councilmen did not constitute a quorum. Lee Duran was re-appointed to a two-year term on the Ethic Board, and council solicits citizen involvement to fill two years of an unexpired term. Two three-year terms are also vacant on the Senior Citizens Commission.