Libby city council: new service insurance available, alleys reinstated

By Danielle Nason


At the Libby city council meeting held on Monday, Nov. 5, City Administrator Jim Hammons discussed Flower Creek and leaf pickup.

Per Hammons, the Flower Creek project has finished with less than 50 loads of logs harvested.  They were expecting more. Slashing is all finished too, although they will continue to pile up and then burn the piles next fall.

Leaf pickup went well, and the city had multiple dump truck loads. If anyone still has leaves, they will pick them up the week of Nov. 12 until Friday, Nov. 16.

The Volunteer Fire Department reported that they had responded to five calls so far in November, and two were mutual aid calls with the Libby Volunteer Ambulance.

Chief of Police, Scott Kessel reported that for  the month of October, Libby police responded to 273 calls for service, compared with 246 calls in October the year before.  There were 19 citations, the same as October 2017.   There were 15 arrests including two DUI arrests and 1 search warrant this October versus 22 arrests last year in October.  There have been more garage thefts and other petty crimes like shoplifting lately though Chief Kessel said, “If you’ve got it, lock it up.” (On the positive side, there have been less reported bicycle thefts.)

The Police Department  received their new vehicles and they are in the process of getting them ready for service.  There were no issues, and everything came in on time. The new vehicles should be on the road by the end of the month.

Darren short submitted his resignation as of Dec 7 since he is going to be sheriff.  They are going through the hiring process for a new police officer and hope to accept an applicant by the end of November.  The position is still open at this time. A written test will be given Nov. 17, and an oral test will take place on the Nov. 20. There have been eight applicants so far, none are post certified.

The ordinance committee will meet Nov. 13 at 6:15 p.m. to continue their review of Libby ordinances. The public is welcome to attend.

Also of not for the general public, a new program you will be hearing about is the Service Line Warranty Program.

This program was developed with city partners to ensure that service lines are maintained and kept up regularly. Most service line repairs are paid for by the homeowner and can become very expensive.

This program is for water service currently, although they are looking to add future service lines as well. It is an insurance you can purchase for a monthly fee to cover protection on repairs. The Service Line Warranty Program offers, multiple plans including an Interior Plumbing and Drainage plan, and an External Water/Well Line Coverage Plan. They also offer 24/7 and 365 availability.

As agreed at the meeting, the community will publicly hear further details about this program, in future resident bills.  Remember, it is not mandatory, it’s insurance.  There will also be paperwork at the City Hall front desk detailing more information about these programs.

A Chamber of Commerce update followed the Service Line Warranty Program discussion. The Chamber does a fantastic job of pulling visitors in to Libby each year, they said.  The Chamber has recently started posting their agenda and a functioning calendar of events on their website, which is currently under construction;

Per Amber Holm, Chamber board member, “It would behoove you to be a member of Chamber of Commerce. It would not just involve you in the local businesses but also what the local community is doing. The new board worked really hard to revive the Chamber which was stagnant for last few years, and we have more than doubled membership in the last two years.”

The Chamber is financially solid right now and able to pay their bills.  They couldn’t say that a year ago. Last year they were looking at closing the doors because they couldn’t afford to pay  employees and keep the lights on. The Chamber wouldn’t have been able to pull through that if it wasn’t for the support of the city. Membership fees are what keeps the lights on and the doors open.  Contact the Chamber of Commerce about becoming a member at 293-4167.

City streets were the final topic of discussion. Libby City Council approved the reopening of the alley on the 1100 block between Spruce and Larch streets.

The Streets Committee has been looking to fix alley issues around the city. Through research, they discovered that the alley in question has never been abandoned. A survey performed in 2007, noted the alley as an official alley of the city of Libby. Currently the alley between Spruce and Larch is used as both storage and driveways for residents that live there.

Libby City Council will be reinstating the alley in the near future. First, they will issue letters to the residents that are currently using the alley for their own personal use, notifying them that it is a city alley and belongs to the city. The residents will then need to remove any and all personal property located on or in the alley.  After issuing the letters to residents, the city will clean up and work to and reestablish the road bed reestablishing an alley.  This consists of pruning, road removal, plant removal, and more.

“These residents are doing nothing bad and there is no fine or anything like that,”  said Libby Mayor, Brent Teske.  “There were so many of these issues within the city. They happened and there is no documentation of whether it (the alley in question) was abandoned or not abandoned.”

“I’ve had several people come to me about an abandoned alley, and (how) the people that live there think the alley doesn’t exist,” said Jim Hammons, City Administrator. “Some of these properties didn’t realize the alley wasn’t abandoned, so they moved in.”  Regardless of whether people moved in knowingly or not, the city stated it will direct staff to make contact with land owners and further rehabilitate the alley.

Scott Thompson, Libby resident, pointed out that in the past agreements weren’t always written on paper. Some were made with a handshake and a bottle of whiskey. “You should look at the survey marks and verify that the actions you take are legal.  There are several alleys in Libby that need to be addressed that have been (assumed) abandoned.  Safety comes to mind, infrastructure, water, sewer, punctured lines, etc.  Before you move forward, you should take that into consideration.”

The board assured him and others that all of these issues have been taken into consideration.