The Mokane Board of Aldermen filled two seats during a meeting Monday which had been left open by resignation and voted in Alderwoman Jo Belmont, who had been serving as mayor pro-tem, as mayor.
Chad Booher and Callie Rogers were appointed as aldermen before the board picked Belmont as mayor. Belmont's appointment leaves her seat open, which will likely be filled during the next meeting in August.
The meeting was one of the most attended Mokane has had, with people standing in the back of the room because there were not enough chairs. Belmont said a special meeting in December was the only one she knows of with as many people attending.
The appointments followed last month's resignation of two aldermen and former mayor Peggy Nalls. Three aldermen seats and the mayor's position had been filled during a June 22 special meeting, but the appointments were later rescinded due to misinformation that Alderman Ray Jennings had resigned and a lack of an oath taken by any of the appointees.
Booher and Rogers were not among the group appointed June 22.
Belmont worked as the mayor pro-tem earlier this year before the re-appointment of Nalls as mayor. Belmont, who had been elected as an alderwoman before, was on the ballot for mayor this year but announced she did not want the position after learning Nalls had been added as a write-in candidate. Losing the election, Belmont was appointed as an alderwomen in May.
The biggest issue challenging Mokane is aging water and sewer systems which have multiple issues the city is required to fix but is struggling to pay for.
Multiple residents asked about the problems and the future of the water and sewer systems, with Belmont and the aldermen acknowledging they were working on getting access to more information. Belmont said in an interview after the meeting that it may be unpopular, but water and sewer rates will have to go up for residents.
The aldermen made several motions during the meeting to ask Callaway Water District 2 to come in and take over some areas of the water and sewer system, including testing and making repairs "as needed." Belmont said Callaway Water would not come in and take over Mokane's systems in their current condition, but it is the city's goal to repair the infrastructure and have the district take over.
Mokane already has one grant to help pay for a study of the sewer system and is close to getting one for the water system, but the city hopes to get more to help fund the costs for the repair work. Belmont said Booher has taken over as the aldermen in charge of working to obtain grants.
Booher said he has volunteered in the past to read submitted grant requests and work on committees to determine grant recipients, giving him experience with the process.
Anne Dillon, whose house is on the Mokane water system, said she would support an increase in the water and sewer rates because the community will have to afford the costs together.
Dillon added the community came together to get the word out that "this could be a pivotal meeting," leading to the increased attendance.
"I know all of (the new aldermen) and I am just excited that there's new people who have actually been around for a long time," Dillon said. "They're residents and they're good people. I think there's tons of good people here that live in Mokane, and I think that with the struggles that the City Council has had sometimes a very small part of that gives the community a bad name, and I don't think that's the case."