Bethel City Council Debates Shooting in City Limits

The Bethel City Council is considering changing the rules about shooting a firearm within city limits. The previous language in city code simply outlawed the discharge of weapons in city limits except in areas designated by the city manager.

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The council on Tuesday approved an amendment that would outlaw shooting in any populated areas while allowing it in areas designated by the city manager or at a designated shooting range. It would not specifically outlaw shooting in unpopulated areas. Vice Mayor Rick Robb put forth the amendment to allow for the hunting that Bethel residents regularly practice.

“Our city limits are rather large, there are many unpopulated places people traditionally hunt on that are within the city limits,” said Robb.

The amendment concerned Council member Sharon Sigmon. She reminded the council that many rifles can shoot far beyond what’s visible to the shooters. Council member Mark Springer said he didn’t want the tundra to become full of makeshift shooting ranges.

“You know, putting cans on trees, shooting at them with no mal intent, but if someone is on the other side of them doesn’t know they are shooting and are out picking berries, or rabbit hunting, we have a responsibility to people using the tundra, within the city limits. I think we should consider their protection,” said Springer

The amendment passed 5 to 2, with members Springer and Sigmon in opposition. The ordinance was simply introduced and the council will take up the language at the next meeting.

In other action, the council approved $32,000 to pay a contractor for impounding equipment belonging to a Montana Company, Elite Mechanical. The equipment was left on city property. The city plans to recover payment from the business or auction off the equipment. They also approved $40,000 to cover the cost of their private investigation.

The council will be able to see an ordinance for a water and sewer rate increase in the coming weeks. The charge for water and sewer service does not currently cover the cost of the service. The increase would bring rates up to cost of service levels.

The council ended with executive session for an update on the investigation into nepotism, personnel issues, and contracts.

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