For the third meeting in a row, the Caliente City Council meeting was packed.

An announcement was made that the railroad crossing will be closed on April 1 in order for the tracks to be lifted three inches.

Clover Creek Organics’ change of location from 8321 Ox Road to 5750 Denali Lane was approved.

Dave Martin of Groundshakers requested a donation from the Room Tax Fund for the annual race event. This event brings a large group of people to town who support local businesses during their stay. Councilman Steve Rowe made a motion to pledge the same donation as last year, $500. Councilman Jamin Hunter suggested $700.00 and the motion was approved.

MaryJo Shearer came to the council for a business license for her company, S&M. The name stands for “Sheila and MaryJo Margarita Bar.” Shearer and her business partner have a two-horse trailer which will contain a frozen margarita machine. S&M will also serve non-alcoholic drinks. The business hopes to cater and do Memorial Day Weekend events, among others. Shearer and Bar have talked to Topp Tires about parking there on Fridays and Saturdays.

Rowe inquired about the business’ health certificate and Shearer stated that, while plans are ready to submit to the health inspector, she doesn’t want to spend a lot of money obtaining that until the company has been licensed by the city.

There was a discussion about open-container laws as pertaining to the business’ “walk up-walk away” setup.

Sergeant Chase Dirks noted that current open-container laws permit this so long as it isn’t in parks, vehicles or ATVs. Parking at Topps will also require a conditional-use permit.

The council approved the business license on a one-year trial period contingent on proof of insurance and health inspection. Already approved for a state license, S&M hopes to be up and running in a month.

Councilman Regen Gubler asked Building Inspector Ken Dixon and City Attorney Franklin Katschke about the planning board’s progress on the food vendors’ ordinance. Katschke said the ordinance would specify where vendors can park, along with certain rules such as those related to alcohol.

The council approved the beautification committee’s request for a temporary liquor license for the Cinco De Mayo event. This was contingent on having the bar on the sidewalk, near Carl’s, in an enclosure separated from the general public. Mikel from Shamrock will be bartending and has a liquor license.

The event will be May 4 from 6-9 p.m. Tacos, chips and salsa will also be served.

The council discussed upgrading to Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) electric meters or smart meters.

Grant Perkins, who was asked to put together information on the proposal, explained that AMI provides the capacity to read meters from the utility desk in the office. Utility billing clerk Linda Larson-Butler could use the computer to read the meters and upload it all in the billing system. That avoids having people go out to manually read meters. Furthermore, if citizens have a problem, they can call and get real-time meter information immediately without needing someone to go out and check. According to Perkins, 56 work hours could be reduced to a couple of minutes with the push of a button. The project would cost around $250,000, plus a monthly support fee.

Mayor Victor Jones noted this is just the beginning of the council’s research into the issue and nothing was decided yet. There was continued discussion on some of the challenges of the current meter system.

Lincoln County Sheriff’s Officers Dirks and Tyler Free answered concerns about four-wheelers and ATVs speeding down alleys and Spring Street. People also commented about speeding FedEx trucks.

Dirks said that they are watching but need help from citizens to report concerns.

In closing public comment, Joan Cockrill stated that she was grateful to Sheriff Kerry Lee for standing up for the people of Lincoln County against the state regarding 2nd Amendment rights.

The next planning meeting will be April 3. The next council meeting will be April 4.