Salem is beginning the process of hiring a new police chief following the announcement at last week’s board of aldermen meeting of current chief Keith Steelman’s plans for retirement.

Steelman plans to retire in February. The city is now taking applications.

“Chief is making plans for retirement, and the mayor wanted to get out in front with a smooth transition,” city administrator Ray Walden told the board. Mayor Brad Nash has directed Walden to post the opening and take applications for at least two weeks.

Police chief is a position appointed by the mayor with the approval by the board of aldermen.

“As the mayor has a chance to process those applications, I’m sure he’ll be coordinating with you all on a recommendation for your consideration for that successor,” Walden told aldermen.

Steelman expects the process to take at least three months with all the interviews and required background checks.

“It takes a while,” he told The Salem News after the meeting. “They need to start now getting ready for February.”

The board also approved a resolution adopting the new Salem and Dent County Economic Development Strategy plan compiled by Sally Burbridge, economic developer for both the city and county, after a series of public workshops that began in January.

According to the resolution, the goals of the plan are to develop community assets to encourage new investment and job growth, create investment in quality of life factors conducive to business innovation, increase tourism, community pride and employment opportunities, enhance workforce education and training, encourage business development and develop regional partnerships.

Burbridge told aldermen the plan itself does not commit city funds toward achieving those goals.

“By adopting this tonight, you give direction to staff, through the city administrator, to start working on these items,” she said. “There’s no dollar amount attached to any of them at this point. That will be in future budgeting sessions in future years as appropriate and available.”

She later told The Salem News the 130-page document is ”probably not everyone’s Sunday afternoon reading, but it is a plan for the whole community, because the whole purpose is to focus on things that will help the community in growing our current businesses, growing the number of jobs and maybe attracting additional businesses to the community.”

The document will be most helpful to groups regularly looking at grant opportunities, like non-profits in town, local government entities and businesses looking to expand or locate in the area, she said.

In other action, the board approved an ordinance authorizing a new block grant agreement with Missouri Highway Commission for increased grant funding for design and construction of new taxi lanes at the Salem airport.

After bids came in well over the engineer’s estimate of $399,000, MoDOT agreed to increase the size of the grant. Cary Stewart Construction was the low bidder at $496,850, including an asphalting alternate and a connecting taxiway.

The new project budget calls for total grant funding of $624,510 and a 10 percent city match of $69,390 to cover $693,900 in total costs, including the Cary Stewart bid and $197,000 in engineering and administrative fees.

The original project budget from June called for an estimated $435,000 total cost, including a city match of $43,500. Of that amount, $240,600 was set aside for construction and the remainder for engineering and administration. Walden told aldermen the higher match was within the amount set aside for the project in this year’s budget.

In his administrator’s report, Walden said the city is now advertising for bids for the first phase of the downtown sidewalk project. Interested contractors can contract city engineer Archer Elgin for more information.

The next public workshop on the new nuisance ordinances will be either Oct. 7 or 21, depending on what the planning & zoning commission has planned for Oct. 7. If no P&Z hearings are scheduled, the workshop will be held that night. Attorneys for Cunningham, Vogel & Rost, the St. Louis law firm that helped write the new ordinances, are available both nights, he said.

Walden also reported that new water meter installations will start in the next few weeks. The next utility bill will have information about the transition.

“There will be some transition with our billing cycle as well as the temporary interruption of service as we install the new meters,” he said. “So we will try to have as definitive information as we can on when people can expect that change, and we’ll make sure we try to do that transition as smooth as we can.”

He also announced the communitywide yard sale is set for Oct. 5, with the fall cleanup held during the week following. Items will be picked up on residents’ regular trash day Oct. 7-11. Information is being compiled on what can be set out and picked up.

In other action, the board approved a request by Salem United Methodist Church to temporarily close Doss Road from East Scenic Rivers Boulevard to East Roosevelt Street from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 31 for Trunk-R-Treat Halloween festivities. The church also asked for a police officer to help direct traffic. Steelman said he would have an officer drive through, but can’t spare one for traffic control that night.