Traer council addresses law enforcement coverage, shelter fees, and Traer Manufacturing

Tama County Sheriff Dennis Kucera provides comment on the city’s law enforcement contract following a public comment from Traer resident Tina Jones during the October 4 council meeting. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

The regular meeting of the Traer City Council took place on Monday, October 4, 2021 at Traer Municipal Hall. The meeting was gavelled in by Mayor Pete Holden at 7:05 p.m. with council members James Erhardt, Carri Holst, and Matt Rausch in attendance.

Law enforcement coverage

Traer resident Tina Jones addressed the council during the public comment portion of the meeting regarding law enforcement in Traer — currently Traer does not have its own police department and contracts with the Tama County Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement coverage.

“I do believe that Traer does require a police department,” Jones addressed the council. “There’s so many things that the sheriff’s department doesn’t get to right away and I feel that we do need that extra protection.”

Mayor Holden and the council members asked Jones to elaborate to which Jones replied she’s witnessed traffic violations — such as “squealing tires” and “racing” — along both First and Second streets.

“I haven’t seen too many sheriff’s department vehicles around,” Jones responded in answer to a question from Holst.

“I’m surprised by this, I’ll be honest with you, because I see sheriff’s department vehicles,” Erhardt told Jones. “The sheriff actually lives in town, we have a deputy that lives in town. We have another deputy that lives two miles outside of town. … Their response time is well within anything that I’ve seen.”

Tama County Sheriff Dennis Kucera — who was present at the meeting — was then asked to provide comment.

“In defense of contract law enforcement and my experience with working with the police department, we’re never in the right place at the right time in the citizen’s mind,” Sheriff Kucera said. “I’ve just ran my report for the last month and there were no complaints about squealing tires on Second Street, Third Street … We address any call that does come in.”

Both council members and the Sheriff encouraged Jones and any other Traer resident to call the Tama County Sheriff’s Department if they do see something, providing the best information they can. Sheriff Kucera said they have the ability to use their cameras in town to address things if necessary.

“If it’s called in, we address it,” Sheriff Kucera said.

“It’s an ongoing discussion and we’ll continue to do so,” Mayor Holden told Jones.

Sheriff’s report

Sheriff Kucera gave his monthly report to the council indicating there had been 53 calls for service that were addressed or answered from Traer including an assault on “Main Street” in front of the antique shop involving three individuals. Sheriff Kucera — and Deputy Joseph Quandt in a follow-up email on Tuesday, October 5 — indicated the investigation is ongoing and the report has not yet been completed.

The sheriff’s department also addressed a disagreement over a bird feeder hanging on a privacy fence in town — responding to two separate calls over the matter.

“Apparently the bird feeder was tore down and damaged the fence,” Sheriff Kucera said.

Complaints also included a domestic disturbance among two siblings in the school parking lot, juveniles in pickup trucks hollering obscenities at each other “on the PA system,” children on four-wheelers in an alley, a suicide attempt, and power being cut to the veterinary office which resulted in the loss of medicines that required cooling.

“The power box is low enough to where kids playing around in back possibly tripped the lever on it. There was no way to lock it. They were going to do what they can to make changes there.”

One of the City of Traer’s trailers was stolen from where it was parked outside. Later in the meeting, Street Department Superintendent Chris Cooper addressed the stolen trailer indicating it had been stolen from outside the garage building. It was an orange, two-wheel utility trailer the city uses for mowing. Cooper told the council he was not sure yet if insurance would cover the loss or the city would have to pay out of pocket.

Park shelter rental fee

The rental fee going forward for the new park shelter was addressed. City Clerk Haley Blaine said the shelter’s interior walls still remain to be finished but all work will be wrapped up in two weeks.

“The old park shelter we rented for $25 an occasion. I don’t feel that’s enough after a new building is going up,” Blaine said.

Rausch said he believes the park shelter should also have a deposit on it like the Memorial Building. The fee for the Memorial Building — which has a kitchen — is $100 deposit plus $100 a day. Further discussion among the council members ensued. The council ultimately decided to table the issue until the next council meeting, giving Blaine time to check with surrounding communities regarding their rental fees.

Traer Manufacturing building

Erhardt told the council he would be setting up a time to “explore” the former Traer Manufacturing building that is now owned by Heartland Co-op in hopes of taking back ownership of the building. Erhardt indicated in previous council meetings his desire to possibly use the building as a new city utility building/community center.

Holst indicated she would also like to attend the meeting. Erhardt asked Street Dept. Superintendent Chris Cooper, Traer Ambulance Director Shawn Kennedy, and Fire Chief Tyler Sell to also attend the meeting. The meeting was not scheduled to be called as a closed session or special session meeting as of this publication.