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Holts Summit candidates discuss police agreement, development

Holts Summit candidates discuss police agreement, development

March 19th, 2019 by Seth Wolfmeyer in Local News

Five candidates for alderman positions in Holts Summit — three for a Ward 1 seat and two for a Ward 2 seat — will be on the ballot April 2 for the city's municipal election.

Among the possible decisions the elected aldermen will face is continuing an agreement for Holts Summit to provide New Bloomfield with police service.

The contract involving New Bloomfield paying Holts Summit $35,000 for its police department to patrol, enforce ordinances and respond to calls in New Bloomfield will expire in December after starting at the beginning of 2019.

The candidates shared their opinions on the agreement with the News Tribune, as well as their thoughts on how the city can spur economic development.

Ward 1

Larry Fedorchalk, the only incumbent among the five candidates, has been an alderman since 2017. He voted to approve the most recent police agreement with New Bloomfield, as well as the original agreement in summer 2018.

"I think it's done nothing but improve the community," he said. "It's given us the opportunity to help New Bloomfield out. They were in a real tight squeeze for a while. It really hasn't stretched us beyond what we can handle."

To better develop Holts Summit, Fedorchalk, a former business owner in the city, said there needs to be a focus on the long term. Holts Summit is growing quickly, he added, so it can be hard to "stay ahead of the curve," but keeping up with important ordinances like setting a baseline of what city streets should include is important.

Fedorchalk said the city does face a challenge in expanding its business base because of its role as a bedroom community, meaning residents' money is often spent in other cities.

"People live here, and they sleep here, but they don't work here," he said.

Mike Harvey is running for alderman after having served in the same position for Jefferson City for eight years. He said he supports the agreement with New Bloomfield and sees it as a long-term investment.

"Community cooperation with other communities, I think, is very, very good," Harvey said. "It's an asset to the community. There could come a time down the road when we need assistance from surrounding municipalities or communities."

As long as funds are available and services within Holts Summit are not sacrificed, Harvey said, there's nothing wrong with helping a neighbor.

Harvey said communication is important to continue to develop a growing community like Holts Summit, connecting with groups like the Callaway Chamber of Commerce. The city needs to let "movers and shakers" know it can be a real asset, he added, and it can do that by providing good services.

"The library is a prime example," Harvey said. "You're not going to see any growth industrially in Holts Summit if you don't offer those types of things — parks, library, all those goodies."

Holts Summit's new public library opened earlier this month.

Retired general contractor Archie McDaniel was the only candidate who spoke against the police agreement with New Bloomfield, saying Holts Summit needs to use its resource to better itself.

"I'm basically against Holts Summit proper using their resources anywhere out of Holts Summit proper," McDaniel said. "I'm not angry with New Bloomfield; I'm not angry with Holts Summit. I just don't think they thought it through real well because I don't think it's the place for one municipality to render services to another municipality."

Instead of making agreements to extend services to other municipalities, Holts Summit should focus on tasks like bringing the city under one sewer system, McDaniel added. He does support agreements which provide Holts Summit with additional services, like Jefferson City handling treatment of some wastewater, because it benefits residents, he said.

"I'd like to see Holts Summit be autonomous in that anything we discuss always be to the benefit of Holts Summit," McDaniel said.

His goals to help develop Holts Summit would be to encourage businesses to come to Holts Summit, McDaniel added, but that is dependent on if there is outside interest.

Ward 2

Lisa Buhr, a legislative assistant in the Missouri state Capitol, is running for alderman after losing a race for Missouri House District 49 representative in November.

Buhr said she supports the police agreement with New Bloomfield. She said the contract does not seem to be a burden on Holts Summit and cooperation with neighboring cities is important in the long term.

"Our communities are so close to each other," Buhr added. "I would like to think that if Holts Summit was ever in need of assistance that New Bloomfield would be able to help us and vice-versa."

Holts Summit is already developing, Buhr said, with the expansion of high-speed internet services and future improvements to the sewer system. Those improvements help improve life and attract businesses, and there is more that needs to be done, she added, pointing to city streets in need of attention like Halifax Road.

"Our city has been growing with the new library and the BluTaco and with (PFSbrands) building their new building," Buhr said. "I think that those are all major things and that it's such a sign of growth for us. The city should continue to develop these businesses and to attract new businesses."

Christopher Redel said he would be concerned about the added expenses caused by the police agreement, but as long as the funds provided by New Bloomfield are adequate, he would support it as alderman.

Cooperative agreements with other cities are often beneficial, Redel added, with Holts Summit already having a contract with Jefferson City for wastewater treatment and Fulton for use of its animal shelter.

"The spirit of that sort of stuff, where each town is reaching out, I think that's good," he said.

Redel said it's important for Holts Summit to listen to its experts — like the police chief — to determine if an agreement is viable. They would have the best estimate for expenses and requirements, he added.

To develop Holts Summit, Redel said, the aldermen have to be open to businesses that express interest.

"I think I would try and carry forward a policy of being business-friendly, especially new business and things like that," he said. "Would I go out of my way to try and get people to start small businesses or have things come in? No. I think a business, when interested, will approach us, and we should not be a roadblock to that."