Mt. Pleasant honor Quin Larsen
By Rhett Wilkinson
MT. PLEASANT—“We would be lost without Quin.”
That’s what Sam Draper, Mt. Pleasant City fire chief, said, as he and Colter Allen, public works superintendent, recognized Quin Larsen as the city’s Citizen of the Month.
Larsen has put in 25 years as a dedicated member of the fire department, Draper said at the Tuesday, Jan. 26 city council meeting.
“We have someone who helps us out a lot with public works and power,” said Allen, with Shane Ward, power superintendent, nearby.
“[Larsen] has a lot of heart. A lot of dedication,” Draper said later in the meeting as a councilman.
“The good that he does for all of us and the camaraderie … that dude keeps our spirits high because he’s so fun,” Allen said.
“He keeps the morale high in the fire department,” said Brian Beck, a firefighter.
“He does the same for public works,” Allen said.
Councilman Russell Keisel, who coached Larsen in high school, said he wished he had some of Larsen’s qualities because even though Larsen was “teased and tormented” constantly, it ran off his back.
“It’s fun to work for Mt. Pleasant public works and it’s fun to be on the fire department,” Larsen said shortly after being awarded.
“We appreciate you and we appreciate all you do,” Mayor Michael Olsen replied.
Also in the meeting, Dave Oxman, the city’s financial director, gave the city’s semi-annual financial report. He said the city is doing well despite the “craziness” of the year.
The public safety budget is up slightly. The Community Development Block Grant for Aspen Village, including the main water line, fire hydrant and a village project, is all wrapped up. And if the city hadn’t made capital improvements to the water fund, it would “almost” be a balanced budget, Oxman said.
“We are doing quite well considering how many sectors are getting hit,” Oxman said.
After Councilman Kevin Stallings said city is “under” in most categories compared to last year, Oxman replied: “Right, except for capital improvements.”
If anything, the city’s sales tax revenue is doing great from what you’d expect, Oxman said.
Stallings asked Oxman if he is concerned about anything. Oxman said he is concerned about President Joe Biden’s $15-an-hour minimum wage plan.
“A lot of things are looking pretty optimistic,” Oxman concluded.
The council also talked further about enforcement against entities encroaching on the city’s right of way.
“It’s eye-opening to me to learn how many infractions that we have around the city,” Stallings said.
Stallings said he is friends with the Reese’s, which includes Julie Reese, the owner of The Peachy Paradise, a snow cone shack. The city didn’t renew a business license for 2021 to Reese because the shack was four feet into the right of way.
Stallings approached the Reese’s and told them that they needed to move the shack back four feet.
“I hope they will relocate it so they can continue to operate,” Stallings said, adding that he has equipment that he could use to move the shack for them without any damage to it.
“They weren’t really happy about it, but I think they understand,” Stallings said.
Then, Stallings said he believes that the city can show that it is “not picking on” The Peachy Paradise. He said later, “I don’t feel good” about going after The Peachy Paradise, but not others.
Olsen said that Kevin Daniels, the city’s attorney, promised to draft a letter to give to owners of entities that are in the right of way warning them to move.
“We’ll give them three weeks to conform,” Olsen said.
Stallings said there needed to be two letters: “one for infractions that aren’t business-related and another that have business licenses.”
“We’ve got businesses that aren’t licensed that aren’t compliant and there are residents that are going onto the right-of-ways,” Stallings said.
Draper expressed disappointment about going after people trying to do something right versus those who don’t care.
“Are we ready to defend our position on it?” Keisel asked.
Jeanne Tejada, recorder, wondered that if the council was ready, if the secretaries for the city would be ready.
“It will hit the front office,” Tejada said.
Olsen said the prior mayor (Dan Anderson) let the encroachment issue slide.
Councilman Rondy Black said that not making an “exception” regarding right-of-way encroachers was “good news” for him. Had the city made an exception, it would “haunt” the city, Black said.
“If we make an exception, we will be [talking about enforcing against encroachment] every meeting for three years,” Black added.
Keisel said there needs to be sharper teeth to the penalty, as the current $50 fine doesn’t mean much to individuals.
Tejada told the council that Reese requested to be on the agenda for its first meeting in February.