CAMANCHE — The Camanche City Council earlier this week discussed potential future involvement with Camanche Days and the relocation of the city’s food pantry.

During a time reserved for council and department head comments, Councilman Ken Fahlbeck offered a public thank you to Camanche Food Pantry Organizer Roxann Stearns for keeping the food pantry afloat. He also thanked First Baptist Church Pastor Chuck Johnson for allowing the food pantry to be housed in a vacant parsonage. At the July 3 council meeting, Fahlbeck said the program was moved from Camanche Middle School because of the new Head Start program and noted Stearns was holding the pantry items in her garage for the time being. Fahlbeck brought up the issue looking for suggestions for potential food storage locations from the council and public.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Fahlbeck expressed his relief that the pantry would still be available to those who utilize the service.

Camanche Police Chief Bob Houzenga said that the most recently hired police officer, Troy Determann, graduated from the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in May and received the John Stark Award for being the top shooter in his class. He remarked that testing will be conducted on Aug. 25 for applicants seeking to be placed on the Civil Service Committee-approved hiring list and potentially hired as a new police officer. Houzenga said that once a seventh officer is hired, the police department will be at full staff. He added that two current police officers are testing for a promotion in rank.

Houzenga also noted the Camanche Police Department received a five-year service award from the National Child Safety Council for its safety and prevention efforts within the city.

He closed by saying the new squad car is nearing completion and should be up and running by the weekend.

Camanche Fire Chief Dave Schutte advised the council he had been contacted by a representative of Lyondell with a proposal to donate a manufactured house to the city. Schutte said the building could be used by the fire department as a training facility.

He noted the house would be offered at no cost.

Councilman Ron Wehde asked where the building would be placed and Schutte said the offer is in the discussion phase and no ideas have been proposed concerning where the building could be housed. Mayor Jim Robertson said it was nice of the company to offer, but said the city does not have a place for the building at this time.

Schutte stated a grant application had been submitted to the Clinton County Community Development Association. He said the fire department is seeking a $50,000 grant to purchase new turnout gear for firefighters and noted the 25 percent match of $12,500 is in the department’s capital outlay budget. Robertson commented he was glad the fire chief brought the grant application to the council’s attention, as the council has discussed previously that the council should be notified before an application is submitted. Wehde agreed the council simply wants to know what the grant is going to be used for if approved and that matching funds have been allocated or secured.

Schutte apologized he had not brought the issue to the council sooner but noted he was out of town during the previous council meeting and the application was due before he could bring it before the council. A motion to approve the submission of the grant application was approved retroactively to the date of application.

Schutte invited the council to attend the 28th Annual Camanche Fire Department Pancake Breakfast for the Muscular Dystrophy Association on Sunday between 6 a.m. and noon. Schutte remarked the event is a very worthy cause and added that carryout orders are available.

Councilman Trevor Willis thanked Camanche Public Works Director Dave Rickertsen and his crew for taking care of some issues in advance of Camanche Days taking place. Willis said there has been some dissension within the Camanche Days planning committee and said he would like to see the city take a more active role in planning the celebration. Willis added the event reflects on the city and city leaders should have some input on the festival.

Wehde said a volunteer organization has been planning the celebration for 30 to 40 years and he wasn’t sure the city should have something to do with the planning of it. City Attorney Tom Lonergan pointed out that city involvement in Camanche Days could create a liability issue, whereas the city leases Platt Park to the volunteer organization and the organization carries insurance to cover accidents or injuries during the event. Lonergan said if the city had more to do with the celebration, it could cause a “proliferation of lawsuits” as cities are typically seen as having “deep pockets” in comparison to a volunteer organization.

Robertson remarked he has great admiration for the volunteers who spend a lot of time organizing the annual celebration and commented he hopes that any differences within the committee would be worked out.

Lonergan suggested that as landlord of the park, the city could ask the committee to give a report during a council meeting so citizens could come forward with their concerns regarding the event and the city could review that information before authorizing lease of the park for future years. Willis said that would be an acceptable solution, so long as the city would have some say in what is going on.

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