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Council tabs chamber manager for vacancy

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City beat from the Feb. 13 City Council meeting: For minutes and schedule, visit springfieldmo.gov/citycouncil
Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce Regional Development Manager Jeff Seifried will replace Nick Ibarra on Springfield City Council.

With a 5-2 vote Feb. 13, council members selected Seifried as the city’s Zone 1 representative through the rest of Ibarra’s term, which ends in April 2013. Seifried is expected to be sworn in at the Feb. 27 council meeting.

At last week’s meeting, three finalists for the seat were brought before council one-by-one to answer a series of four questions. Seifried, Crystal Quade and Arthur Hodge Sr. spoke about their skills and experiences, issues they’d identified in Zone 1, their familiarity with state economic development tools and Zone 1 residents’ perceptions of council.

Several council members commented favorably on Seifried’s knowledge of economic development tools and his experience in work force development.

“It’s about jobs, jobs and more jobs,” Councilman Robert Stephens said.

Aside from jobs, Seifried told council that neighbors and groups such as the North Springfield Betterment Association have indicated that safety is a top issue in the district.

“Whether its buying a house or fixing a sidewalk, it all comes back to safety,” Seifried said. “It’s the issue that echoes through everything in Zone 1.”

Seifried said he was familiar with the city’s Economic Development Incentives Policy Manual, designed to be a resource for developers looking to start projects that create jobs, and he thought it was important to the right environment for development.

“There needs to be a competitive landscape in the city, and I believe it’s our responsibility to create that landscape,” said Seifried, who needed five council votes and a second round of voting to earn the seat.

With seven council members present, Seifried first received four nods to three for Quade, a field representative for Community Blood Center of the Ozarks. On the second vote, Mayor Jim O’Neal selected Seifried to give him the necessary five votes required by city charter. Hodge, a substitute teacher who is retired from the U.S. Army and from work as a school police officer, did not receive any votes.

Council members Cindy Rushefsky and Scott Bailes voted for Quade, saying they wanted to see another woman join the group and that her knowledge of public and private resources would serve her constituents well.

The Zone 1 seat became available after Nick Ibarra resigned from council on Jan. 4. Ibarra was charged with a Class D felony by the Greene County prosecutor for unlawful use of a weapon after a Jan. 1 domestic disturbance at his home. A court hearing has been set for March.

Nine people applied for the post before the field was narrowed to three finalists. The process to appoint Seifried was similar to the appointment of Councilman Jerry Compton, who replaced Ralph Manley as Zone 3 representative in May 2009 after Manley retired from council during his term.

Alcohol at the fairgrounds
Two amendments tied to bills that would allow liquor sales at the fairgrounds were contentiously debated before council voted 6-1 in favor of transferring the fairgrounds’ lease agreement to the city.

Moving the lease from the Springfield-Greene County Park Board opens the door for the fairgrounds to host events with alcohol sales. The Park Board prohibits alcohol on park premises.

Organizers of Rock N’ Ribs and the Sertoma Chili Cookoff have told council they’d consider holding their annual fundraisers at the fairgrounds if they were permitted to sell alcohol.

Councilman John Rush tried to introduce an amendment that would have required the Greene County Agricultural and Mechanical Society Inc., the governing board of the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds, to be audited as part of its lease agreement with the city.

One amendment that already had been approved would prohibit alcohol sales during the annual Ozark Empire Fair. Rush said that since the fair board cited financial reasons in requesting the change, it was incumbent upon the group to prove that it was enduring a financial hardship. However, several council members said the audit requirement would cost thousands of dollars, and Rush’s motion did not move forward.

Another amendment that died before it got started was by Rushefsky, who suggested the lease should further outline the circumstances where alcohol could be served.

She cited a desire by fair board member Kent Hyde to permit area wine and alcohol producers to lease booths at the annual fair provided they don’t sell liquor that could be consumed on the grounds.

The move would have required tabling the bills, and Hyde told council members he’d rather they vote now, and take up such a proposal at a later date.

Only Rushefsky voted against the lease transfer.[[In-content Ad]]

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