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Mayor objects to ‘speed trap’ as citations rise

Luverne Mayor Joe Rex Sport spoke against the city council’s request for more traffic citations from the police department. During Monday’s city council meeting, he said he did not want Luverne to be considered a speed trap because people would bypass the city by taking Highway 231 or Interstate 65.

Luverne resident Roy Johnston told Sport the city should be more concerned with public safety than with being called a speed trap.

Sport said he was concerned with safety.

“But let somebody call you a speed trap and they will spread it all over the state. People will avoid us,” he said. “We do the best we can, but can’t catch everyone when we have only two officers per shift.”

During a December meeting, Councilman Jerry Sipper voiced his concerns that police officers were not issuing enough tickets. Between Nov. 21 and Dec. 5, Luverne police officers issued 12 traffic citations and four warnings for various traffic offenses.

Since Sipper voiced his concerns, traffic citations have gone up. From Dec. 27 to Jan. 9, officers issued 25 traffic citations and eight warnings. Between Jan. 10- 23, traffic citations were up to 37 and officers issued another 11 warnings.

In other news, the Luverne Kiwanis Club and city of Luverne may soon break ground on the playground.

The funds from a $50,000 federal grant have been issued.

“It’s great news that we got funding,” said Travis Colquett, who is leading the project for Luverne Kiwanis. “I just remind the council that the total budget was $115,000.”

In addition to the grant, Pepsi has pledged $20,000 and other local businesses have added $5,000. The playground project is still short $40,000. Colquett plans to meet with Luverne’s park and recreation board. He said he would also continue soliciting local businesses for funding.

Council members discussed the site preparations that would be needed.

“It would be good if we could get this thing going before the (baseball) season really gets rolling,” said Councilman S.P. Walker.

Sipper and Building Inspector W.A. Neal said the city needs to update its zoning codes.

“I would like to formally request the mayor and council consider starting the process to modernize our existing zoning and building codes,” Neal said in his report. “They are very confusing and becoming more difficult to enforce.”

Neal cited the code’s grouping of house trailers and recreational vehicles as an example. He said there was no listed definition for manufactured homes, which he felt were nice additions to neighborhoods. At least one person in attendance disagreed. Johnston said manufactured homes were easy to spot and would lower the value of his traditional home.

Councilman Charlie Johnson suggested the council hire an expert and meet in a working session to review all codes.

Luverne resident Pat Floyd reviewed 15 items she wanted to see the council resolve. The list included the city clock, which was taken down to repair; a citywide cleanup effort; welcome signs; the Omni building; the playground; and a better website for the city.

“We want City Council accountability,” she said. “City government needs to do your jobs or resign.”

Sport updated the council on the clock repairs.

“I have drug my feet a little bit. We are going to ship it back,” he said. “I know what is wrong with the clock but I don’t have the expertise to fix it.”

He contradicted Floyd’s report that the manufacturer would travel to Luverne to fix the clock. The city tried that option the last time the clock stopped working. In addition to the quoted $900, the city had to cover lodging and furnish a bucket truck. There were additional costs associated with the repair.

Sport said the city would save money by shipping the clock and getting an estimate on repairs.