Former Lt. Mike Wilson used to visit Spencer Middle School as the community's Drug Abuse Resistance Education instructor. Now, he is set to return to Spencer schools as a part-time school resource officer in the middle and high school buildings.
Six members of Spencer City Council approved a joint agreement with the school district in which Wilson will be a school employee and reserve officer. The city will pay half of the estimated $18,000 -- or $25 per hour -- for the position through 2013, at which point payment for the service will be re-negotiated.
"I see it as a school employee and I really don't see the point of the city of Spencer funding this," said Councilman Ron Hanson, who cast the lone dissenting vote. "For that reason, I'm going to vote no. About four years ago, they had a school resource officer and the school board decided at that time, with budget cuts, that they didn't see it necessary to keep that position. Now, four years down the road, they're asking the city to kick in. If it's such an important situation, I would think they could come up with $8,000 themselves."
City Manager Bob Fagen clarified that the cost was also shared with the city at that time. Hanson countered that the individual was not a reserve officer, but was part of Spencer Police Department when school was not in session.
"This officer is going to spend the lion's share of the time, not the entire time, in school," Councilman Steve Bomgaars said. "But, these kids are not in school all the time. They're part of the community and I see this as a preventative thing and the officer can prevent so many things our officers will not have to deal with as a result of him being in the school. I just see this as a benefit, not only to the school, but to parents and all through the community. This is a win-win for the schools and all the community."
Spencer Police Chief Mark Lawson said the officer will be in the school to "be proactive, develop relationships with the high school and middle school students and, if there's a way for him to prevent something before it reaches my desk, that's what we're after."
While the officer will not be involved with DARE, Lawson added the class will now be offered to fifth-grade students and SPD is working on a plan to take the class to sixth-grade students who otherwise would not have it this coming school year.
In other business, the council:
* Approved a 30-year agreement with Spencer Municipal Utilities for the SPD to relocate to the SMU office at 712 Grand Ave., including joint use of the power plant building on the east side of the property. City Attorney Don Hemphill shared that the move will take place six months later than originally planned, and will cost the city more than requested for maintenance fees, but less than the estimated cost of renting a different building.
* Approved a resolution adopting sidewalk repair, reconstruction and construction policies, as was discussed during a Public Works Committee meeting on July 2.
* Learned from Fagen that the privately-funded Rose Retail Revolving Loan Fund will be utilized by the owners of Bear Coffee House and Wine Bar -- to be located in Gary's on the River at 24 W. Park St. -- and Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches -- coming to the corner of Grand Avenue and Fifth Street in a portion of the former Spencer Theatre.