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Horton City Hall can be seen in this undated photo.

The outcry from the local camping community continued at the first October meeting of the Horton City Commission, as a handful of campers were present at the meeting to express their displeasure at the recent increase in the fee to rent a camping space for the year to $500.

Denise Fassnacht was the first to speak, asking why the $200 increase was applied at one time, instead of over time—a point that Donnie Groshong would echo later, suggesting that the rate could be dropped to $400 for next season. Fassnacht also asked what the commission is going to do for campers in returned for the increase. She said that at her spot, the campers have trimmed trees and built and paid for a new picnic table, while gravel is needed on the east side of the lake and new doors are needed on outhouses.

Jeremy Watkins suggested that the increased fees will cause many campers not to return to Mission Lake, though he did not feel it is necessary for people to be vicious toward the city. Charles Schecher took issue with comments about the Parks and Recreation Board only being interested in camping issues, and also with a previous comment that the taxpayers subsidize the lake. Schecher said that a lot of people use the lake, not just campers, and that this brings money into town.

Diana Coffman brought a petition with 77 signatures asking for clarification on why there was such a sudden $200 increase in camping fees. Coffman said that the idea of the increase was not discussed with the Parks & Rec Board as a whole, and that the majority of the conversation was had between herself and City Administrator John Calhoon. She stated that the board is being blamed for the increase, but said that commission should be taking the backlash. Coffman also said that improvements are needed at the lake, including additional water hydrants, gravel and clean shower and outhouses. Calhoon eventually stopped the discussion, saying that the decision to raise the rates has already been made.

Later in the meeting, Commissioner Wade Edwards shared his opinion relating to a comment that was made about the commission hearing the campers’ concerns, stating that he believed that what was really meant was if the commission was going to do what the campers wanted. Commissioner Kenn Krug said that points were taken on both sides of the discussion. Krug regretted the way the earlier portion of the meeting got off track, but says that he feels better for what was heard, and hopes everyone stays positive.

Next, the commission moved on to a discussion of space light fee increases. The rate increase will be effective on January 1st, with metered lights costing $5.00 per month and unmetered lights running $11.50 per month, plus kilowatt hour charges billed under the appropriate electrical rate schedule. Current customers with the existing non-LED lights will remain on current rates. Customers that call to request an upgrade to an LED light will be required to pay a minimum 2-hour labor charge, at $25 per hour, and the monthly light rental. Customers that request or require a new pole for a space light will additionally be charged for the cost of the pole. Flood lights will be billed at $15 per month. The Commission approved the proposal unanimously.

In revisiting the Memorandum of Understanding with the Kickapoo Tribe for emergency water services, City Attorney Kevin Hill pointed out some revisions to the language of the agreement. The MOU will allow the tribe to apply for funding for water services, which will be used to provide a pipeline from the Kickapoo Reservation to the City of Horton, and a master meter for the city. The Commission approved the updated Memorandum.

Calhoon shared with the Commission that new Assistant Police Chief Cody Spire has started working full-time for the Horton Police Department. Calhoon reminded the Commission that Brown County Sheriff John Merchant agreed to donate K9 Ari to the HPD, as she has only been handled by Spire, along with the 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe that has served as the county’s K-9 unit. Spire has agreed to take on expenses for Ari, including vet costs, food and maintenance training. Ari will be retired to Spire once her law enforcement career is over. Spire will continue to assist with the county’s K-9 needs.

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