Reruns and Re-Reruns

City revisits judge vacancy, other issues

At last week’s Dillon City Council meeting, members of city government revisited the issues of how to fill the city court vacancy and revisions to the city’s animal ordinance, set up four hearings and voted to approve two water and sewer projects.

Near the start of last Wednesday’s meeting, the city council voted unanimously to endorse an interlocal agreement with Candy Hoerning to serve for up to four months as temporary city judge for Dillon while continuing to work as justice of the peace for Beaverhead County.

At the city council meeting two weeks earlier, a plan was worked out between the council and Mayor Mike Klakken to hire Hoerning for up to 30 days as temporary city judge and advertise for people to apply to subsequently serve as interim city judge until the person who won the position in the upcoming municipal election on Nov. 7 could take office.

But after reportedly talking with a Chinook City Judge Perry Miller, who also serves as chair of the Supreme Court of Montana’s Commissions on Courts of Limited Jurisdiction, Klakken threw out that plan because no one in Dillon could actually become qualified in time to serve as interim city judge this year.

The city judge position became vacant on Aug. 30 when Crystal Thompson resigned from the bench amidst a criminal investigation into her activities while serving the city court.

Thompson remains on the ballot for the upcoming municipal election for city judge, alongside local businessman Paul Pilgrim. Dillon attorney Kaylan Minor registered to receive write-in votes for the position.

For the second time this year, the council voted to approve the first reading of an ordinance amending the city’s animals ordinance—though a slightly different version than it gave an initial thumbs up to in June.

After approving the first reading of the amended animals ordinance in June, the council had been scheduled to take a second and final vote at its first meeting in July. But Beaverhead County Public Health Director Sue Hansen asked the council at that July 5 meeting to postpone the vote so she could look over the revisions and ensure they coincided with county and state rules regarding rabies.

The council’s Health & Welfare Committee subsequently incorporated suggestions by Hansen into the revised revisions of the city’s animal ordinances that the council voted unanimously to endorse the first reading of last week. A second reading will likely take place at a council meeting next month.

During the report of its Water & Sewer Committee near the end of last week’s meeting, the council voted to refer to small claims court sewer-only accounts that are $300 or more in arrears.

The council last week also approved the recommendation of its Water & Sewer Committee to approve a pair of projects:
• extending the sewer main from Noble Street to the Ray Lynch Park softball fields;
• placing water and sewer service lines to the new water/sewer utility building, and allowing the city administration to request bids for the project from local contractors.

The council last week also voted unanimously last week to set up four public hearings.

On Oct. 4 at 6 p.m., the council will host a public hearing on adopting additions to the city’s zoning ordinances related to Electronic Messaging Center (EMC) signs.

A public hearing on issuing a conditional use permit for a “Verizon cell towner located adjacent to exiting tower” will take place Oct. 4, starting at 6:15 p.m.

On Oct. 4, at 6:45 p.m., the council will host a public hearing on vacating a portion of Granite Street.

Two weeks later, on Oct. 18, the Dillon City Council will hold a 6:45 p.m. public hearing on the proposed change of the East Orr Street/Potato Cellar area from unzoned to R-2 on the city’s official zoning map.

All four hearings will take place in City Council Chambers, 125 N. Idaho St. in downtown Dillon.