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At its July 12 meeting the Preston City Council approved a business license for Wheeler Electric out of Idaho Falls. The company will work out of a trailer, not a store front, as it works on local construction.

The council voted to join the county and the rodeo committee in funding a new sidewalk from the new rodeo bleachers to the city restroom southwest of the bleachers. The city’s portion is expected to be less than $4,000.

They also voted to provide annual funding for the local youth football program. Although the city sponsors little league baseball and soccer programs, the football program is separate. (See page 12 for related story.)

However, the city and county both help sponsor the youth football program.

“It’s too big of a program for the city to take on — it’s very expensive,” said Mayor Dan Keller, who thanked Hailey Judd for her efforts and those of Vic Pearson and Eric Thornson in providing the opportunity for youth who participate in the program.

The city was apprized of the scheduling for replacing the Preston Airport’s runway. The airport will close July 31 and crews are expected to be on site at that time to tear up the current runway. County Commissioner Robert Swainston also noted that the 7.5 percent local responsibility in funding has been covered by further grants, freeing the city and council from providing funding for the project. The county, however, he said, will open its budget for fuel meters and some electrical work at the airport.

The city offices parking lot will be available to county employees while the county constructs the addition to the court house, said Mayor Keller. Swainston said the county hopes to have the sally port part of the addition completed before snow flies this winter.

John Balls, director of the public works department, updated the council on work completed at Craner Field and city roads. A pavilion has been built at Craner Field and picnic tables ordered. An Eagle Scout will be planting the flowers. In conjunction with the Kiwanis Club, Lions Club and Travis Despain, the city council will purchase specialized dirt for the baseball diamonds, called Diamond Dust.

Councilman Todd Thomas noted that Trish Perry has resigned from directing the soccer and t-ball programs offered throughout the city’s rec program, and that the city is seeking a new soccer directer. Perry held the position for about five years.

“It was a huge job and she did a great job,” said Thomas.

He also noted that local participation in the city’s Pitch, Hit & Run competition held in June was considered a success and entered into a national database for possible recognition of top competitors.

The county was notified that it will be reimburse by the Department of Environmental Quality for a new street sweeper — a $220,000 purchase.

Water levels in the city’s storage tanks is holding, said Balls. The levels drop about two feet every night as people water lawns at night, but so far has been able to recoup the water the next day.

City engineer Tyrell Simpson informed the council that their visit with state leaders lead to $500,000 in loan forgiveness for the sewer plant from Gov. Little’s office.

“I would like to remind the public that when we started the sewer project, we promised we would solicit, beg, and roll over every stone to find the funding we needed. I’d like to thank council for doing that. This is big. We’ve met with all our legislators and will continue to do so,” said the mayor.

City treasurer Kelly Mickelson noted that the city is planning for $445,000 worth of work to be completed on the city’s streets next year. That doesn’t include work to be done on 200 East Street, which will be done as a follow-up to the Oneida Street improvements, he said. That project is already paid for.

Finally, the mayor said that the city is budgeting for a 5% increase in utility rates. “In this year’s budget, which was approved las year, we included a 5% increase, but we’ve never taken that increase yet. The council takes extremely seriously any increase in rates.

“Also in this budget, we are not proposing to increase property taxes this year. Last year we did not take the 3% raise. Will be receiving property tax revenue from new construction, like we did last year,” said Mayor Keller.

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