New Meeker mayor, trustees take office

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MEEKER — Following the swearing in of Meeker’s new mayor, Mandi Etheridge, and trustees John Strate, Katelin Waldref and Bob Omer, Etheridge appointed trustee Chris Ham as mayor pro tem.
Etheridge thanked outgoing mayor Steve Loshbaugh for his two decades of public service to the town of Meeker, and presented plaques of recognition to Loshbaugh and outgoing trustees Harold White and Andy Thomson.
According to Town Manager Sharon Day, the newly seated board may be the youngest board in Meeker’s history.
In its first official actions, the board approved a request from the Meeker Lions Club for a special events liquor license for a benefit to be held May 17. “A Monte Carlo Evening” will benefit scholarships for people pursing careers in health care.
“The event addresses workforce development. About 25 percent of the health care workforce at Pioneers Hospital will be eligible for retirement in the next few years and we need a way to repopulate that pipeline,” said Margie Joy of Pioneers Hospital.
The board discussed a voluntary appointment to the community planning initiative task force. The task force’s work is to gather information from the various taxing districts, town and county regarding infrastructure and capital planning needs and how to best prioritize and meet those needs through communication between the public and the districts. “The hope is that over the next 4-6 months the task force would bring that information back to the public for discussion,” Trustee Bob Omer, who has been involved in the initiative work group, said. The next meeting will be April 28 at 7 p.m. and is open to the public.
Prior to renewing the five town appointed personnel positions, Mayor Etheridge asked the appointees present to share with the new trustees their duties and current projects. The five personnel positions that are to be appointed within 30 days of the election are the town manager, town clerk, town attorney, town judge and chief of police.
In department head updates:
n Public works superintendent Russell Overton said the results of a camera inspection performed recently on a town well revealed blockage in a screen that will need to be addressed by the original well driller. Mayor pro tem Chris Ham emphasized that the well in question is not in service as part of the town of Meeker’s water supply.
n Police chief Bob Hervey said the police department had 225 total calls in February and 291 in March. “We are in the process of looking to fill a position. One officer didn’t complete the training.”
In other business, the board also:
n Re-appointed Mary Whalin to continue serving on the Meeker Housing Authority.
n Welcomed a new town planner this week, Anna Smith.