When Helen Walker stood before the Liberty city council on Tuesday night, it was the first time in her short 98 years on this earth to come before the deliberative body.
The senior, who needed the help of G.R.A.C.E. president Glennda Harding to get to the podium, was clear with her message to the council.
“I don’t know how much longer I’ll be here, but I had to come and say thank you for these people who bring me food to eat,” she said.
Walker’s appearance before council was the preamble to a request by the charity, Greater Respect for the Aging through Community Effort (G.R.A.C.E.), to council members for assistance with funds for the program.
“I’m truly grateful. It’s helped me tremendously. I can’t stand long to cook anymore,” she said.
She says she eats more sandwiches than she likes but was grateful for the assistance from the Meals on Wheels-type ministry.
In her younger years, Walker owned the first beauty shop in the city of Liberty. In the process she has raised four productive children. She lost her youngest son, Al Walker, and in her brief moments before council, she humbly gave thanks.
“I love this place. I’ve been very blessed, and I thank the Lord so much,” she said.
Council heard her plea and gave the organization a one-time $5,000 grant.
The fledgling group, in its two years of existence, fed seven people their first day. Since then, they have now fed 22,871 meals per year to needy seniors averaging about 65 each day, Monday through Friday in the city of Liberty.
The organization sought twice that amount but is grateful for the support.
“These are people who have lived here most of their lives and have been, and still are, taxpayers,” Harding said.
“They’ve worked hard all of their lives to contribute to society but have reached a point in their lives where they can no longer care for themselves completely,” she said.
H-GAC announced that they will assist the organization with a one-time gift of $12,000 for the rest of the year.
They want to hire a part-time director to help keep the organization moving forward and expanding. As of next Tuesday, they will add the city of Ames to their delivery for seniors.
“Our client population is growing and has increased steadily each month since we began in 2016,” Harding said.
Council continued their charity toward taxpayers with a near three-cent reduction in the tax rate. Last year’s tax rate was $0.6110 per $100 valuation and it was reduced this year to $0.5851. The effective tax rate will be $0.558029 and the rollback tax rate was set at $0.585197. The vote from council was unanimous and the vote to adopt the rate will be Sept. 11.
In other council news, Interim City Manager Larry Shaw told council that the web provider for the city is getting out of that business and so they are searching for a provider that hosts governmental entities. “We’re looking for a fresh website and not sure of the timing on when that will be accomplished,” he said.
--The city is also implementing a new payroll system and the conversion is already underway. Shaw said he hoped that the process would be complete and ready by Oct. 1.
--Two weeks ago, the city also activated a new inventory control and Shaw believes it will give them better control of their materials.
--The migration over to the cloud is also underway and will take some time, but will assist in improving their system.
--The rate study is about a month behind.
--Public works continues the sewer project with five of the 60-plus manholes replaced.
--The cold pour issue at the levy has been resolved and the boxes are all in now. They’ve framed up the headwall on the river side, finishing the steel and framing up for concrete on the city side this week.
--The police department has hired a new TCO Amanda Goss. The department is actively recruiting for two new hires in patrol and two in dispatch. There has also been a promotion with Michelle Hebert who was promoted to detective.
--The fire department has a new chassis for their brush truck and is now in service. They’ve been working on the acquisition for eight months and purchased a Ford F450 gas engine with a 300-gallon water capacity and 10 gallons of foam for firefighting.
--The custom panels for electric at the library have been ordered. The cost is $39,000 and work will begin once the cabinets have arrived and workers will work in evenings to lessen the disruption to the daily schedule.
--Councilwoman Diane Huddleston reminded everyone about the Paper Shred event on Sept. 22 beginning at 9 a.m. The program has been ongoing for the last 10 years. The truck will be in the city hall parking lot and will stay until it’s full. It is free and open to the public.