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Crawford council tackles safety, vacancy policies

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At the recommendation of CIRSA, the insurance cooperative the Town of Crawford uses, trustees implemented new safety procedures for town staff last week.

Public works director Bruce Bair prepared three policies and presented them to trustees for consideration. The first outlines how town staff will identify confined spaces and detailed procedures for worker health and safety in places like sewer manholes or water storage tanks. The second describes how town staff will trench or shore up areas in which staff is digging. The third policy describes lockout/tagout procedures to prevent accidental startup or movement of machinery or equipment that may endanger staff during routine maintenance or servicing. "The number one thing working for the town is that we go home at night. And this will help in that regard," he explained. "We're looking at keeping town employees safe."

Just a few minutes into his reading of the draft policies, trustee John Paton interrupted. "Do we have to read all of this?" he asked.

Bair offered to trustees to table the issue for a month, and allow them to take the packet of 16 pages home and read it over before voting on it. "Have you read this?" he asked the trustees; no one acknowledged they had.

"I count on you and your abilities. If you put this thing together, I just make a motion we approve it and get on with it," Paton said.

Bair asked instead if he could summarize the three policies. He was allowed to do so, and after his summary, trustees quickly approved the policies with no further questions of him or any discussion.

The three safety procedures are now policy for all town staff, and will also be added to the employee manual. The passage of the policies will help the town's bottom line, Bair explained, as CIRSA may reduce the cost of the town's liability insurance now that the procedures are in place.

On another safety issue, trustee Chriss Watters asked about the status of fencing around the chlorine house. When Bair took trustees on a tour of the treatment plants, it was noted that a better, more secure fence should be installed. Bair was directed to get quotes for a chainlink fence with a locking gate.

In other matters at the May 3 council meeting, trustees amended an existing ordinance that outlines how council vacancies are filled; the ordinance was amended to clarify confusing language.

In the case of a vacancy, the council has 60 days to appoint a replacement trustee. If the council cannot appoint a replacement within that time frame, the seat shall be filled by a special election. The confusion comes when figuring out how long the replacement trustee shall serve. For example, when former trustee Tammy Broughton vacated her seat and trustee Chris Johnson filled the vacancy, he was seated only until April 2018, the next regular election. That seat will be up for re-election, but just for two years, to fulfill the term originally held by Broughton. In 2020, that seat will be up for re-election for the regular, four-year term.

In 2018 during the regular election, voters will seat four new trustees, seats currently held by Cameron Clark, Mike Tiedeman, Chriss Watters and Johnson. The person who receives the fewest number of votes will fill the Broughton/Johnson seat for just two years, and then will have to re-run in 2020.

The language in the ordinance didn't sufficiently clarify that issue, nor did it include state statutes that govern elections, Gallegos explained, which prompted the amendments.

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