Council leases former fire station for Ridgeway retail

Carol Allen, right, owner of Laura’s Tea Room, announced that she will bring a consignment store to the former fire station in downtown Ridgeway. Her daughter, Kelly Quinn, and grandson, Seamus, who are visiting from Ireland, will be helping with the store opening. | Barbara Ball

RIDGEWAY – Continuing concerns about how Ridgeway’s new water tower turned out, prompted an executive session at the beginning of the Town Council meeting Thursday evening.

‘Contractual Matter regarding Civil Engineering of Columbia (CEC),’ was the stated reason on the agenda for the executive session.

Following the session, Councilman Rufus Jones made a motion to hire an independent surveyor to measure the height of the town’s new water tower which was constructed by CEC. The tower sits adjacent to Geiger Elementary School.

“We continue to have concerns about the height of the new tank,” Jones said. “And we want a representative from CEC to be present for the measuring.”

In a follow up interview with The Voice, Councilman Dan Martin said the measurement is needed to determine whether there is a discrepancy between the height of the town’s new water tower and the old one.

“If the new tower is shorter than the old tower,” Jones said, “that could adversely affect the water pressure for the town’s customers.”

The motion passed 4-1 with Councilwoman Angela Harrison voting against.

Allen Leases Fire Station

A second discussion in Executive Session resulted in a unanimous vote in public session to accept a request from Ridgeway resident Carol Allen to lease the former fire station at 170 S. Palmer Street, commencing Aug. 8.

Allen, who owns Laura’s Tea Room down the street in the same block, said she plans to open a consignment shop ‘of sorts,’ but will not have enough room for booth rentals.

“But we will welcome individual consignments, crafts and handmade items. We also plan to feature an assortment of nice pet items, plus we’ll carry some neat things that we don’t have space for in the Tea Room,” Allen said.

“I guess I need to get together with my tea gang and decide exactly what we’re going to do over there, but I’m looking forward to having sort of an open air market as we roll those big bay doors up every day,” Allen said.

Business License Fee Up

Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution to amend Ridgeway’s Business License Fee schedule by increasing fees 20 percent.

“The Town has not adjusted the business license fee schedule for cost increases or standard inflationary factors since the fee schedule was originally adopted,” the resolution stated.

Councilman Dan Martin said the across the board fee increase is necessary to cover some of the increase in costs of providing services in the town.

Rates are predicated on the class of the business and the income generated. The lowest fee is $48 for $0 to $10,000 in income, plus $1.35 per thousand or fraction thereof over $10,000.

There are also specific daily license fees for peddlers and a $5 license fee for a yard sale.

Persons or firms not licensed by the Town of Ridgeway must provide proof of a minimum $2,500 performance bond before they can receive a permit to work in the town.

Councilman Jones pointed out the difficulty in monitoring the contractors who come to Ridgeway and provide services.

Mayor Cookendorfer agreed.

“I try to keep an eye on trucks, etc. in town, and when I approach them, they typically go to Town Hall and secure a business license for Ridgeway,” Martin said.