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The Shelby City Council met on Wednesday, Jan. 8, due to Mayor McDermott being out of town on Monday, Jan. 6. This was the last meeting for councilwoman Debbie Clark. Before swearing in new council member, Sanna Clark, Mayor McDermott had the Council take action on some items that have been discussed at prior meetings.

The Council approved all claims and the minutes from the last meeting before discussing the cell phone ballot issue one last time with Debbie Clark.

“Debbie wants to discuss the ballot issue,” said McDermott. “So I think we should hear what she has to say before we do the swearing in.”

Clark shared this issue has been heavy on her mind, especially after hearing what Sheriff Whitt, Robyn Kimmet and Lorette Carter had to say.

“This really wore on me,” said Clark. “After hearing from Sheriff Donna, Robyn and Lorette, it impacted me. When it came to ballot it threw me. So I decided to research it. No other towns did a ballot, the Council just did it. Putting in on the ballot will cost $2,000 and it would be delayed until November.”

Clark advised her fellow council members the issues for the argument against having a cell phone ban are the same throughout the state. She believes that under Sheriff Whitt this ban would be enforced and that it would not be about writing a lot of tickets, but about safety.

“One thing the City can do is education and advertise it so everyone is aware that there is an ordinance,” said Clark. “This is just a last ditch effort to bring awareness from the other side. I really do think the Council has the authority and this shouldn’t have to be a ballot issue.”

Financial officer Jade Goroski reminded the Council that the ballot language does not have to be turned in until Aug. 31, if the Council ultimately decides to go that route.

City attorney Bill Hunt, said Sheriff Whitt would also like more discussion on this and has different ideas on how the ordinance should read.

“I think we, as council members, need to talk to people in the ward we represent and get their feelings on it,” said Councilman Trent Tustian. “We represent them. I’m not afraid to vote on it, yes or no, but I think it’s our job to see what the people we represent think.”

Mayor McDermott reminded the Council the issue was tabled at the last meeting and advised he thought that is the way it should be kept until the next meeting when Sheriff Whitt will be attending and after Council members have had the opportunity to visit with people in their wards about it.

“This is about rights as well,” said Councilman Joe Flesch. “I had two people tell me that they are not for it. This is taking the rights of citizens, telling them what they can and can’t do in their vehicle. Where does it stop? You can’t have a dog in your lap? Soda? Chips? These are all distractions. Where does it stop? This will hinder small businesses in Shelby as well.”

Council member Aaron Heaton pointed out there has not been a large outcry from the public to make this a law.

“This is a government intrusion on rights,” agreed Heaton. “If there was a large outcry to have a ban we would, but it’s only small groups. Piece by piece the government infringes on rights. Once it starts taking things away, one at a time, soon really good intentions go bad.”

Community Development Director Lorette Carter took the floor to remind the Council that this ban isn’t about taking rights, but more for safety reasons.

“This is for the safety of others, not the driver,” said Carter. “And not to hinder businesses. I totally disagree. People texting and driving shouldn’t get to jeopardize everyone around them. This has been a thought out process, not just three people trying to get it. The Community Assessment showed that distracted driving is a big concern.”

Council president Lyle Kimmet agreed that he would like to get the word out to the public before the next meeting and encourage people to come and share their opinions.

Mayor McDermott concurred and advised it would remain tabled and put on the next meeting’s agenda. 

Debbie Clark was then thanked by the mayor and the Council for the four years she had served and was given a parting package of Shelby items before new Council member, Sanna Clark, and returning Council members, Bill Moritz, Lyle Kimmet and Joe Flesch were sworn in by Mayor McDermott.

Mayor McDermott then reminded the Council that Councilman Aaron Heaton had been appointed to fill the Ward 1 seat two years ago and that time has expired. McDermott asked Heaton if he would like to be reappointed.

“We can appoint you to another two years or we can declare a vacancy and see if anyone is interested,” said Mayor McDermott. 

Heaton agreed to another two-year appointment and was then sworn in.

Moving on, the Council approved Resolution 2010 in regards to approving elected and appointed officials into the employee benefits program.

“This is more an issue with MIA,” advised Goroski. “We have already been doing this since 2012, we just need to formally adopt. “

The Council heard from City Superintendent Luis Correa on replacing the yield sign on the corner of Sheridan and Park with a stop sign.

“There are two yield signs at that intersection now,” said Correa. “It’s not a huge deal, but there have been a couple of phone calls. It’s kind of a fight of who yields to who. The right-of-way is the road to the hospital. We would like to put a stop sign on the Civic Center side, on Park.”

The Council approved replacing the yield sign with a stop sign, as well as the rest of the reports given.

Before adjourning the Council also approved the 2020 Shelby Volunteer Fire Department officers and the committee listings for Council members.

The next meeting will take place at City Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 21, due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. and members of the public are encouraged to attend and share their opinions on the highly-debated cell phone ban.

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