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The same day that active cases of coronavirus in Moniteau County reached a high not seen since May, the California Board of Aldermen voted to ease some restrictions that had been in place for one city department throughout the pandemic.

The two operators at California's wastewater treatment plant have been working in a one week on, one week off rotation since the Council's April meeting to ensure both stay healthy. After hearing from Wastewater Supervisor Patrick Murphy that returning to two-man operations full-time would be possible with the right safety restrictions in place, the Board of Aldermen voted to return to the norm from prior to April with such regulations in place.

Also in the wastewater department report, the Board voted to opt out of a proposed study analyzing COVID-19 wastewater samplings, which California had been approached to participate in along with a few dozen other cities across the state.

Other recently-lifted restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic seem to be going over well, according to the Council's discussion at Monday's meeting. The recently reopened tennis and basketball courts have not been too overcrowded, and the city pool hasn't seen any issues since it opened last month, save for attendance being slightly lower than predicted. Utility billing, which has been ongoing throughout the pandemic but with suspended shutoffs for missed payments until last month's regular meeting, has also been going smoothly.

In other business during Monday's meeting, the Council heard an update on California Progress, Inc.'s Latham Park Project from CPI respresentative Pam Green. The project, which has been ongoing since CPI agreed to purchase the lot last year, aims to add a number of elements to the green space formerly occupied by Latham Sanitarium, including a veterans memorial and playground equipment. Green said CPI will return to the Council again in the near future with further details about those elements and any others that still need any final approval.

The Board of Aldermen also approved an ordinance allowing the sale of water from the City of California to Missouri American Water for Hickory Hills subdivision.

The California Police Department has received its new computers and has installed all but one back seat partition in its squad cars. The department is also proceeding with interviews for a remaining open officer position.

In other news, the Council learned the city will soon see the retirement of Shirley Hayes, a longtime employee of 22 years in the city's accounting department.With this upcoming change in mind, the Board of Aldermen agreed it would be prudent to think about having discussions around restructuring the city's approach to its accounting and payroll, with a committee of Mayor Norris Gerhart and Alderwomen Resa Dudley and Lorrie Grimes established to begin discussing such a shift.

The California Board of Aldermen's next regular meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Aug. 3, with an earlier start time than usual due to the Moniteau County Fair.

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