Wednesday, July 30


City hears proposals for
better police coverage and
temporary street closures    
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[JULY 30, 2003]  Lincoln's city council heard a proposal by Police Chief Richard Montcalm about city police officers working nine instead of eight-hour shifts. They also heard construction needs and opening suggestions from the S.M. Wilson company, which is about to negotiate with contractors to build the new junior high.

Bill Ahal addressed the council as the pre-construction director for S.M. Wilson. He would like the city's assistance in considering closing certain sidewalks and streets surrounding the junior high either long-term or daily as they construct the new junior high school. Choices need to be made in advance that will affect the cost and speed at which the new school can be constructed. Public and worker safety also are major factors in the decisions. He said these are only preliminary plans that he was presenting, and the company is here to work with the city council to do the construction in a safe and economical way.

The current junior high sits on half of the block it occupies. The new structure will take up the entire block. There will be a need for a staging area to hold supplies, such as steel and bricks, plus other equipment. The workers will need scaffolding to work on. The new structure will be two and three stories high, and at times the crane will have to be working outside in the street. The construction company would have to use streets and sidewalks while construction was in progress. The street and sidewalk closures could be done on a permanent basis while the work was going on, or the closures could be on a temporary, day-by-day basis. Doing the closures on a temporary basis would take more time and cost the city more money.

The council raised numerous questions and concerns that would be created by the closures. Alderman Benny Huskins pointed out that a lot of school children would be forced to walk or ride their bikes in the street on their way to and from school.

Another concern is the possible damage to the sewers. Grant Eaton said that he wanted to check and video the sewers to have documentation in case damages do occur.


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Councilman Patrick Madigan said that he would like to see a comprehensive, detailed proposal that included defined structure and dimensions. The company will be going to the site and working with city department heads, as well as Fire Chief Bucky Washam, to work out details.

The S.M. Wilson company will then meet with the council at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 4 to present a more detailed proposal. The council would consider and make a decision about the proposal at their regularly scheduled meeting at 7:15 on the same evening.

In other business Police Chief Richard Montcalm asked the council to consider changing the police officer's schedules from eight to nine-hour shifts. Montcalm said that a recent survey conducted by the department showed that 48 percent of Lincoln's citizens did not feel safe walking the city streets at night. By changing the shifts to nine hours they could have up to seven police officers on the street during the crucial hours of 7 p.m. until midnight.

City attorney Bill Bates said the city had just completed negotiations with the union that included language on the hours of work. He said the city could approach the union regarding changing the shifts, but if the union said "no," that would be the end of it. If the union was interested, they could renegotiate that part of the contract and draw up a letter of understanding on new hours of work.

After hearing petitions on sidewalk repairs and a street closure for a fireworks display on Aug. 23 the council scheduled several committee meetings and adjourned. The city council meets again on Aug. 4 at 7:15 p.m.


[Don Todd]    

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