Wednesday, November 22, 2006
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By Ann Pierceall

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

HANNIBAL, Mo. The Hannibal City Council on Tuesday night gave Police Chief Lyndell Davis the go-ahead to look into a high-tech way of catching red light violators on U.S. 61.

Davis pitched the idea of video cameras to the council, telling them regular details nab a lot of violators but "it's a drop in the bucket."

A cameras system is "for any vehicle violating a red light. These are going to be blatant violators," he said.

Davis said several Missouri communities, including Arnold and St. Peters, have turned to the camera enforcement system, as have larger cities such as New York and Chicago.

"It's become very accepted and it's something I'd like to explore further," he said.

Davis said he'll seek information from two companies that specialize in camera enforcement Reflex Traffic Systems and ATS (American Traffic Solutions), both out of Arizona. The companies offer free traffic studies, and Davis said the city puts no money out up front.

Whichever company is chosen would provide the equipment. The city then pays a fee based on the number of citations issued. Davis said it's up to a Hannibal officer who views the video to decide if a violation has occurred.

"It's no different than if an officer is viewing (a violation) physically; it's being viewed remotely," he said. "It's a modern tool to help is do our job."

Council member Terry Hull said he "liked the idea of a camera."

"It would be consistent," he said, and deal with a problem that goes on 24/7. And it would be a deterrent. "Word gets around quick."

The council told Davis to pursue a grant offered next March to cover costs of officers doing traffic enforcement.

Also on Tuesday, Angel Zerbonia was sworn in as city clerk. She replaces Mary Beth Baudendistel, who retired in August. Zerbonia had been interim city clerk since then, at the same time covering her duties as city collector.

Zerbonia is looking forward to working as clerk.

"I know I have a lot of challenges ahead of me, but I'm looking forward to working with the new city manager and financial director," she said.

Using an emergency reading, the council approved an ordinance amending the salaries for the new city manager, Jeff LaGarce, to $75,000, and Zerbonia, to $44,540. LaGarce begins work Nov. 27.

The city received 15 applications for the position of finance director and is accepting no more.

In other action, the council:

* Approved closure of North Main on May 12 for a Loafers Car Club show.

* Approved the sale of city-owned property at 1712-14 Chestnut for $100 to Tracy J. O'Brien.

* Approved a $314,200 contract with the engineering firm of Lutz, Daily and Brain, LLC, of Overland Park, Kan., to design a substation needed for the city's new 161 kv transmission line and substation project.

Contact Staff Writer Ann Pierceall at or (573) 221-5879