Howell County News/ Amanda MendezHowell County News/ Amanda Mendez

Willow alderman moves out of ward, retains seat for now

Alderman Tyler Morris was duly elected as Ward II Alderman on April 2, but he moved into Ward I between filing for office and the election date. In the absence of a challenger or the appointment of a replacement, Morris was sworn into office during Thursday’s meeting. 
City Administrator Beverly Hicks said she sought the legal advice of the Missouri Municipal League prior to the meeting. She spoke with Stuart Haynes, who told her the city is, “allowed reasonable time to find a replacement.” Since Morris was, in fact, elected by the people of Willow Springs, any vote he casts as an alderman, “would be upheld in a court of law,” Hicks reported.
Candidate filing for this position ended in late December 2023. Both Morris and City Clerk Heather Tooley confirmed the move to Howell County News in late March. By the date of that inquiry, ballots had already been printed, Tooley said. 
Morris said Thursday his move from the old house to the new is ongoing. He does, in fact, still own the home in Ward II. In an email, Morris confirmed the real estate contract was not final until after the withdrawal deadline had passed. 
Hicks announced Thursday she hopes to find a replacement for Ward II representative by the next regular meeting, commenting, “It’s not like we’ve had a ton of people signing up for these elections.”
The boundary between the two wards is Harris Street, also known as Highways 137 and 76, with Ward I on the west side and Ward II on the east side.
Both Morris and Alderwoman Kim Rich were sworn into office. Rich was re-elected as Mayor Pro Tem and continued to run the meeting in Mayor Brooke Fair’s absence. 
The board heard from Eleven Point Rural Fire Department Chief Frank Vanhorn on behalf of the Howell County Fire Chiefs’ Association. He informed them that the county fire rally will be held in Willow Springs for the first time in twenty-two years. The event is scheduled for Saturday, October 12, with a rain date of Saturday, October 19.
The fire rally is open to the public. There will be several competitive events, including a police versus firefighter tug-of-war, local vendors, and games for children. Vanhorn requested, and was granted, the use of Booster Field parking lot and street closures for a fire engine parade through town. 
City Clerk Tooley requested guidance from the board regarding the fourteen businesses who have failed to renew their city business licenses. Nine of these businesses are known to the city to be in current operation, Tooley confirmed in an email. 
At this point in the year, these businesses have received three past-due notices. The board agreed to proceed with personal service of letters by a police officer, as they have done in years past. The businesses will have fourteen days from the date of service to renew their licenses. Any necessary public hearings will take place in May. 
In other discussion:
-City Administrator Hicks recommended against a second reading of the ordinance that amended the city’s “no parking” zones. She prefers repealing the current ordinance and passing a new ordinance with a general statement prohibiting parking where posted, instead of spelling out by ordinance each location. Hicks added that she encourages open discussion with the public and with business owners about any no parking zones. The board unanimously agreed and took no further action.
In other actions:
-Kelli Neel, AJ Clinton, Tommi Hagen, and Amanda Wade appeared on behalf of Christos House. Mayor Pro Tem Kim Rich read and signed a Proclamation declaring April 2024 as Sexual Violence Awareness Month.
-A closed session citing exceptions for hiring/firing/promoting/disciplining personnel took place from 6:01 p.m. to 6:08 p.m. with no action taken or vote recorded. 
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