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Bell residents upset with irrigation spraying of dairy effluent and chicken manure spreading in town

By John Ayers
The Bell Town Council held their first meeting of the New Year on Thursday, January 9. Several residents asked the Council if they could stop the spraying of the dairy effluent through the irrigation system and the spreading of chicken manure along their property by a local dairy and farmer.
The Council listened to the residents as they reported the spraying of the dairy effluent and the spreading of the chicken manure on the field would take your breath. The Council staff explained that there is approximately 30-acres of the dairy property that is in the Town of Bell.
The Town of Bell attorney, David M. Lang, Jr. told the Council that he had contacted an attorney that is representing a local farmer, Kelly Philman and they were expected to attend the Thursday evening meeting. Mr. Philman and his legal counsel will be invited to attend the next Bell Town Council meeting in hopes of working out a solution for the Bell residents as well as the agriculture interests that are spreading the fertilizer on their agriculture proprieties.
Bell Town Clerk-Michelle Rose reported to the council that Kenny Bass has submitted a letter of resignation announcing that he will resign from his elected position in the Town of Bell as of January 8, 2020.
Attorney Lang explained that the Council can appoint a resident of the municipality to fill the remaining term of Mr. Bass if they so choose. The Council Seat that has become vacant is up for election in December 2020. The four member council discussed naming a successor to fill the seat. For more information on this council position, contact the Town of Bell at 352-463-6288.
The Town Clerk reported the Bell Town Park has some repair problems involving some of the playground equipment. She explained that a slide designed for small children has a crack in the platform and it is in need of repair. The Council discussed the repair of the equipment and decided to close the playground area to children until the equipment could be repaired. A motion by Council Vice President Michael Moore to close the park until the playground could be made safe for the public’s use. Councilman Chris Sandlin gave a second to the motion before the Council voted 4-0 in favor of the motion.
The Town of Bell discussed the cost of the repairs that are being considered to the Bell Town Hall for the government building to be ADA compatible. An estimate was received in access of $150,000 to complete the repairs to the old train depot that has become the Bell Town Hall.
The Council also discussed the purchase of the former Drummond Community Bank building that is located on US 129 north in Bell, across the highway from the Bell Post Office. Derek Sanders, President of the Council asked if the board could hold a workshop to discuss the issues of the Town of Bell making repairs to the Town Hall or consider the purchase of the bank building for the future Bell Town Hall. The Council agreed to set a date and advertise for a workshop to be held in the Town of Bell.
The Council approved ordinance 2019-01 on the second and final reading to establish a salary for the Town Clerk in Bell. A motion by Michael Moore to approve the ordinance to establish the salary of $450 a week for the Bell Town Clerk. Chris Sandlin gave a second to the motion before the Council voted 3-0 in favor of the ordinance. Council President Sanders reported that he has filed a conflict and will not be involved in the discussion or the vote on this ordinance.
A Bell Town Council representative will be attending the Nature Coast Regional Water Authority meeting that will be held January 22, 2020 at 4 p.m. in the Fanning Springs City Hall. The Town of Bell is considering becoming a member of the NCRWA if the water authority board approves the Town of Bell.
The Town Clerk reported the Town of Bell had received one application for the maintenance position being advertised for by the municipality. The Council discussed the position and agreed to request the applicant to attend the next meeting to allow the Council to meet the individual.