Gladstone City Commission says farewell to attorney

GLADSTONE – The Gladstone City Commission said farewell to its city attorney during its meeting Monday night. Commissioners also welcomed a new employee who will help enforce city codes.

Thomas Butch of Burkhart, Lewandowski & Miller, P.C., a Gladstone native, has held the post of city attorney since 1975. He will be retiring from his position with the city on Aug. 1 of this year and intends to enter full retirement from his work as an attorney sometime in the near future.

Despite expressing regret at the loss of Butch, the city intends to continue using the Burkhart, Lewandowski & Miller, P.C., firm, which has served the city with attorneys since 1954.

“I’m confident with the firm. I don’t think we could go wrong at this point. They are actually looking at a couple of our cases,” said Mayor Darin Hunter.

Commissioners also officially welcomed Del Johnson, who will be filling the city’s newly-created code enforcement position.

Johnson’s responsibilities will include taking complaints from citizens, inspecting properties for code violations, and making contact with citizens who have violated city codes. To do this more effectively, the city has developed a new property maintenance complaint form and a property maintenance complaint tracking form, both of which will be available on the city’s website.

The property maintenance complaint form allows residents to file complaints about other residents for things like debris in yards, grass greater than six-inches long, unlicensed vehicles, or other violations of city code.

Once the forms have been received by the city, action will be taken on the complaints within five days. The tracking form will be updated to allow citizens to see if their complaints are being addressed and to keep a record of code violations, invalid complaints, and the methods used to rectify violations.

The idea of having a Gladstone Public Safety officer handle code enforcement had been discussed. However, the city felt non-law enforcement staff would be a better fit.

“I think you can communicate the issues a lot better if the owner doesn’t feel threatened. I think there would be a time when a uniform may have to get involved for enforcement,” said Hunter.

Even though Johnson was officially welcomed by the city Monday night, he has been working two days a week as a code enforcement official since June 5. In this time he has handled 16 code violation cases and closed eight.

“Just in my brief tenure people have been very receptive,” said Johnson.