The Park Hills City Council met Tuesday for their regular monthly meeting where Cruisin’ for a Cause was one of the main topics of conversation.
City officials said they considered the event’s second year to be a success, but it was agreed that some safety issues should be addressed before the event returns next year.
The meeting began with the council being addressed by area resident Janet Akers who spoke of the concerns and complaints she had with what she said was inappropriate behavior on the part of Mayor Daniel Naucke during portions of the Cruisin’ for a Cause event.
Akers alleged that the mayor was “out of control” and even pushed her at one point during a confrontation.
“He was hollering, screaming, shoving, pushing people, and I was one of the persons that got pushed by the mayor,” Akers said. “And I almost fell to the ground if it wasn't for two people that caught me before I fell to the ground.”
Akers said she tried to talk with Naucke but was met with screaming and she claimed that the mayor stuck his finger in her face and told her to go home and also tried to have her arrested.
Saturday night's event featured a section of Main Street where cruisers could pay a $5 fee and do burnouts along the Main Street strip. Concerns for safety surrounding the designated burnout area, as well as the fact that the area was preventing vehicles from actually cruising the strip, were reportedly recognized by city officials and event organizers and that portion of the cruising event was brought to an end after about an hour and a half.
Akers told the council that she believed the only thing that was dangerous that night was Naucke’s behavior.
Naucke, nor the council, responded to Akers’ comments during the meeting however the mayor did comment Wednesday about the events that occurred Saturday evening.
“Overall, the Cruisin’ for a Cause was very, very successful,” said Naucke. ”There were some things that we learned. Again this is only our second year of doing it.
“We did have some problems and we realized where they were at,” Naucke explained. “Yes, there are some people that got upset with me because I did shut the burnout down.”
He went on to explain that concerns over the safety of the spectators lining the streets along the burnout area are what ultimately led to the designated section being shut down.
“It was getting to be a very, very hazardous thing,” said the mayor. “I don't think the city, or me, should not be able to call the ball when it was unsafe.
“We did make mistakes and we learned from them and we hope that next year, we will have everything lined out to where they can do possibly the burnouts,” Naucke said. “All we can do is try to do better every year.”
Naucke said that other than that portion of the event, he believes everything went really well.
After the council heard from Akers, City Administrator Mark McFarland gave his monthly report.
The first item mentioned by McFarland was the Downtown Park Hills Association’s Scarecrow Contest which invites all of the businesses in the downtown area to create scarecrows and put them outside their facilities in order to decorate the business district for Halloween.
The contest began on Oct. 1 and will continue all month long, up until Halloween. Area residents can vote for their favorite scarecrow on the association’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/downtownparkhills. The winners of the contest will be announced at the Trunk or Treat event on Oct. 31, in the downtown area.
Next, McFarland announced that, as of Monday, the city opened for bids for the financing of this year’s capital improvements and the purchase of radio water meter readers.
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He said that the results of the bids will be discussed in the council’s October work session.
McFarland continued on to say that the city offices will be closed during the homecoming parade and the city’s street department and police will be working together in blocking off streets and controlling traffic along the Main Street parade route.
Moving on, McFarland mentioned the plan to replace all of the trees downtown.
The several trees that currently line the downtown portion of Main Street have been discovered to be an invasive species and, under the recommendation from the Department of Conservation, the council voted earlier this year to replace the trees.
McFarland said it was agreed that the tree replacement would be held off until after the Cruisin’ for a Cause event and homecoming was over, and city workers will begin replacing the existing trees with the non-invasive Winter King Hawthorn variety of tree as early as next week.
The city administrator ended by personally thanking all of the city workers and volunteers who made this year's Cruisin’ for a Cause such a huge success. He said that while money raised is still being counted and coming into the senior center, as of Tuesday's meeting, approximately $11,000 going to the center's Meals on Wheels program had been recorded.
He said that he will be meeting with city workers soon to discuss everything that went right as well as everything that needs to be improved upon for next year’s event.
The next item of business presented to the council was a resolution approving the Park Hills Police Department Policy and Procedure manual which Sgt. Summer Bess has been working to put together.
Before the vote, Councilman Steve Weinhold had some questions about the guidelines of the manual that he addressed to Police Chief Richard McFarland, who was in attendance at the meeting.
Some of the concerns raised by Weinhold included the addition of a section to the manual pertaining to disciplinary measures for officers. Weinhold also took issue with the 80% firearms training score that the manual requires from officers. The councilman said that he feels the Park Hills Police Department is one of the best in the area and thus should be held to a higher standard, requiring a score of 90% in firearm proficiency testing.
The chief said that the accepted standard in law enforcement is a 70% score but they could look at raising it in the future if necessary.
Ultimately, the resolution was tabled until the council meets again in their work session later this month.
Toward the end of the meeting, the council approved the appointment of the city’s Division Clerk, Tracy Fisher, as the council’s representation to the Park Hill-Leadington Chamber of Commerce board.
The meeting wrapped up as usual with closing comments from the members of the council.
Weinhold said he wanted to commend Bess on her work in putting together the police department procedure manual. He also said that he wanted to thank everyone who helped out in the Cruisin’ for a Cause event.
Councilman Ed Hart also thanked all of the organizers, city workers, and volunteers who helped put Saturday's event together and make it a success. He specifically mentioned a thank you to Charles Naucke whom Hart said was very helpful throughout the entire day. Hart also mentioned that he would like to see a safety committee formed for next year's event to tackle some of the concerns that have been brought to his attention.
Councilman Ryan Ruble expressed his appreciation to Saturday's event organizers and volunteers and said he wanted to give a special thanks to the Park Hills Library which provided a fun kids area in their parking lot that his daughters, as well as students in his fifth-grade class, really enjoyed.
Councilman David Easter, who is also president of the Downtown Park Hills Association, spoke next and wanted to point out that the Scarecrow contest they are having throughout the month was the idea of Theresa Naucke, who brought the idea to the association last year. When she suggested the contest last year, it was too late to enact it before Halloween but they thought it was a great idea and were able to put it together this year.
Councilman Alan Coleman was the last to speak during the council discussion and echoed the sentiments of other council members saying that he thought Saturday's cruising event was a great success and thanked all those involved.