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Spirit Lake fills vacant council seat

Thu., Aug. 2, 2007

SPIRIT LAKE – Spirit Lake Mayor Roxy Martin has appointed Gary Ventress as volunteer chairman of the city’s Planning and Zoning Department to serve out the remainder of the late Steve Gaddum’s City Council term.

Ventress was tapped earlier in the month. The term ends in December. Ventress will be eligible to run for re-election in November if he chooses.

Gaddum was killed in a vehicle accident in April. He was 64.

To prevent a conflict of interest, Ventress stepped down from his post with the Planning and Zoning Department to serve on the council. Martin appointed Kelly Balison-Hilliard as the department’s new chairwoman.

Ventress has worked for Kootenai County about seven years. He is operations manager of the county building and grounds department for the courthouse campus.

He has lived in Spirit Lake about 14 years and is no stranger to local politics. Ventress, 57, previously served a four-year term on the City Council, worked for several years with planning and zoning and belongs to the city’s urban renewal board.

He said he’s eager to assist the city with its 2008 budget and adopt a new comprehensive plan that is expected to come before the council this fall.

“Those are the two main things on (my) agenda,” Ventress said.

He said he’s honored to be able to continue Gaddum’s work. “He was a really outstanding citizen and did so many things; nobody could replace him. He’s sorely missed,” Ventress said.

At its July meeting, the council unanimously adopted a new ordinance to require large parcels of land being offered for residences to be expected to observe the same rules, regulations and expenses as proposed subdivisions, said City Clerk Barbara Brown.

That means the landowner must incur some of the expenses for installation of water and sewer lines, street lights, paved streets, fire hydrants and other improvements.

Brown said council members passed the law after learning that subdivision development guidelines did not apply to the 50-acre R Ranch development on the north side of town because of a technicality.

In other action, Police Chief H. Wiley Ronnenberg reported that the department has purchased a new patrol car. The Dodge Charger was purchased from Tom Addis Dodge.

Council members also learned that vandals had torn down a fence at a makeshift skate park in town. Instead of skateboards, kids are riding bikes over the obstacles. Martin said it sounds as if the spot is now a liability and should be further examined.

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