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A Citizen Journalist in Tonitown


November 7, 2012 by wcobserver

Tonitown is in western Washington county. So why, one might ask is the Washington County Observer which serves the south part be interested in why happens over there. Two reasons. First the size of the town and nature of the issues that are confronting their citizens are similar to those in West Fork. They also dissolved their independent water commissions in the past election, they have had city clerk problems and are struggling with police funding problems.

But also, we want to showcase an excellent example of local citizen journalism written by Sunny Hinshaw, a retired veterinarian who is active in city politics and sends out a monthly newsletter. We applaud this effort and hope perhaps it will inspire others to write and share their observations of their town.

Sharing information, observing and participating in ones town is vital to the well being of any community.


Tontitown News   November 4, 2012  Volume # 17


Dear Citizens,

I will start this TTN with a reminder that the City Council Meeting has been moved from the 1st Tuesday meeting date to Wednesday due to Election Day this month.  Time and place are still the same, 7 PM at City Hall.

Let me tell you about the COW [Committee of the Whole] Meeting that took place on Oct. the 25th so that you know what will be voted on this month.

The first item discussed was the refinancing of the Water and Sewer Bonds.  Mike Zulpo introduced Tyson Martin of the Stern Brothers who has reviewed the W&S 2005 bonds which are outstanding and found that there is approximately $5 million outstanding with an interest rate of 4.5%.  He feels that his company could lower those bonds to an interest rate of 3.9% and save roughly $220,000.00.  If his offer is considered it will take 30 to 60 days to complete the project.  Mr. Martin was referred to W&S.

Next Ken Bailey revised his recommendation concerning the Inter-National Energy Code.  Jeff Hawkins was there to explain that it was only necessary to adopt the 2011 State Energy Code, Residential portion.  This will be less strict and will not involve commercial building thus saving a lot of grief for the builders in our City.  An Ordinance is forthcoming.  Next, Ken recommended a proclamation to name Mussino Lane in honor of the Mussino family or a specific family member.  Then he told the Council that Planning is working on wording for an insertion into Chapter 155 adding a fee for open air vendors. Plus Chapter 150 needs to list the Inter-National Residential Building Code as a standard (this is different from the Inter-National Energy Code).  And finally that on Ordinance will be coming before the City Council concerning a fee schedule for Street Cuts and Bores from Planning.

Terry Carpenter spoke about S. Pianalto Road and the upcoming improvements to the North portion of the dirt part of the road up to the bridge.  The vote to spend the money on the options presented are up-coming.

Henry Piazza told the Council that the Millage on Property Tax is up for renewal and that Tontitown is currently at 2 mils.  If the City Council wants to raise the millage now is the time.  Surrounding towns such as Johnson and Elm Springs are charging 5 mils to their residents.  One mil will raise about $80,000.00 for the General Fund and each mil will cost the property owner about $10.00 per $100,000.00 of the appraised value.

Mayor Granata told the Council that the interim Recorder – Treasurer will be appointed at the next Council Meeting.  Becky Alston has offered to come back for the two months.  Mrs. Alston was the R/T during 2011.  Alicia Collins has also offered to do the job until 2013.

The Mayor then told the CC that ARCO has offered it’s property for sale to the City for $290,000.00 which is $64,000.00 above the appraised price that the Mayor obtained.  There is still some interest on the Councils part to purchase this property.  House-keeping items that Mayor Granata referred to the Council were a copier that needs to be replaced in City Hall and the fact that the Fire Department Building needs major roofing repairs / a new roof.

Then the Mayor discussed the need for an Ordinance to form the Police Department (as opposed to hiring a Marshall, I think).  He then told the Council that he needs to advertise the opening (it’s a requirement) for the Police Chief even though he already has 12 applicants without even advertising.  There are many decisions that need to be made such as salary, benefits, vacation time, cell phone usage, uniforms, residency, and more before the hire can occur.  The Mayor asked that the Council prepare to attend numerous Executive Sessions to cut the application pool to a manageable size before the Mayor makes the final selection.

The actual agenda is printed on the TTown Web Site.  Looks like we’re winding down the year in style.  It’s going to be busy during the Holiday season.

Until next time…..

Dare to think for yourself !

Sunny Hinshaw




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