| May 15, 2008

Feature Article - May 15, 2008

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Feature Article - May 15, 2008 Central Frontenac Council -May 13/08By Jeff Green

New public works manager promises change, fast

Central Frontenac’s new Public Works Manager John Simcock had only been on the job for six days, and his appointment had yet to be ratified by council, when he made his first presentation to a council meeting on Monday night.

He made it clear to council that he will be establishing what he calls a “chain of command” in the public works department, and his first priority will be to upgrade the level of education among public works staff. “As I start formulating a plan to basically attack the public works division, there will be an emphasis on education. It is something we are missing, and it is something that is required by law.”

Some required courses can be brought in to the township by the Ministry of Transportation, but for others township employees will have to travel to Ottawa or Peterborough. The education is needed both for health and safety reasons and so public works staff will be more productive on the job.

“Bear with us for four months, and I can show you a works process that will let you target any area that you want to deal with. In a year and a half, the people that are still here will deliver a lot of service.”

Simcot clarified his remarks in an interview with the News on Tuesday morning. “It is certainly not my intention to force anyone out of the public works department,” he said, “it’s just that some people do not want to take courses, but this is mandatory. There is no option to say no.”

Simcot will be holding his first meeting with the entire public works staff today, May 15, at 1:30p.m.

One other immediate change that John Simcot put to council on Monday was the surface treatment (hardtopping) of Zealand Road, which had been deferred during budget deliberations to next year. He argued that since Road 509 and the Ardoch Road are gong to be resurfaced this year, it makes sense do Zealand Road as well since it is so close by.

He said that over $100,000 can be saved by putting in a three-way stop where Zealand and Bell Line Roads meet, instead of building up the surface of the road to improve visibility, and that the $320,000 it will cost will be offset by savings in maintenance costs over 20 years.

“We spent two hours on Zealand Road last week, and it is a much busier road than most of our back roads. There is even large truck traffic on it,” Simcot said.

Councilor Philip Smith said, “When we were doing our budget we did decide that the money should be spread out, not concentrated on one end of the township. I don’t support this for that reason.”

“I agree with Phil,” said Councilor Bill Snyder. “It’s too much money to spend in one corner. Keep it fair. I’ve been here 27 years, and you just came and suddenly we’re spending all the money in one corner. It’s totally unfair for staff to be pushing this forward at this time”.

In a recorded vote, the Zealand surface treatment project was approved, with only Philip Smith and Bill Snyder casting dissenting votes. Councilor Frances Smith was not at the meeting.

WARREN LAKE – A site plan submitted on behalf of Peter Boomgardt was deferred after much discussion. Mr. Boomgardt plans to develop new lots that will have common access to a dock that he intends to build on Warren Lake, off of Bell Line Road west of Road 509. An opinion from Mike Yee of the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority that the dock would not affect fish habitat was presented, but there are a number of issues that council wanted clarified by the proponent and the matter was deferred.

NOISE BYLAW RETURNS – A draft noise bylaw was discussed. The bylaw was prepared in response to a complaint to the township last year about the constant use of a generator, but once again the noise bylaw was the subject of some ridicule by councilors.

“The sounding of any bell is prohibited, so that means church bells as well,” said Councilor Purdon. “Or cow bells,” chimed in Bill Snyder.

“And then there is the prohibition against yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing before 9 am on a Sunday. What about early church services?”asked John Purdon.

“Bear in mind that bylaws are only enforced on a company basis,” said Mayor Gutowski.

“I don’t like these bylaws that you can’t enforce,” said Councilor Harvey

The draft bylaw will return again at a later date.

DUCHENE TO RESIGN – Interim Chief Administrative Officer John DuChene has informed council that he will be stepping down at the end of August, after serving for 18 months.

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