Erik Meis lives in his ”man cave” attached to the car wash he owns on West First Street.
It’s filled with stuffed game animals, trophies from his hunting experiences in more than 40 countries he has visited as a tourist or a hunter over the years.
Meis discovered his interest in foreign cultures and in hunting when he was 12 years old, accompanying his father, who was in the service in Turkey.
He’s been in Havre 43 years, first coming to town to assume a U.S. Postal Service contractor position. Since then, he has owned the car wash, operated his own courier service and now has decided to run for City Council from the oddly shaped Ward 4, which includes the east side of the city and the First Street area.
Meis was appointed to the post in December after Andrew Brekke resigned. He was prompted to run because he thought the council needed a business person’s voice. He is the only business proprietor on council, but his opponent in the November election, Derek Eldridge, helps operate the family-owned Fiveheads, a clothing store, and The Press, a coffee shop. Meis is glad that one businessman will remain on the council, no matter what.
Since he is often at the car wash throughout the day, he talks to a wide variety of people who have to clean their vehicles. Often, he said, the conversation turns to city government. And No. 1 on that list is the condition of Havre’s streets.
Voters have twice defeated referendums to bond for major repairs, but Meis thinks the real solution may be the creation of special improvement districts in neighborhoods throughout the city. Property owners, if they agree to the SIDs, would be assessed to pay for repairs to the streets in their area.
He said he’s looking forward to having some questions answered at the council’s Streets and Sidewalk Committee, which will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.
Dan Clark, director of the Office of Local Government at Montana State University, will speak on SIDs and the complexities of the law that governs them.
Meis said he likes the general philosophy that people in a neighborhood should be the ones to pay for repairs, though he admitted using SIDs may make it harder for some of his 4th Ward neighborhood, where landlords own most of the property, to get street repairs.
On another topic of concern to city residents, he said the city already has ordinances that can be used to curb the problem of abandoned property. He’s not convinced the vacant properties ordinance is needed.
The city formed a committee and has discussed the idea of creating a registry of vacant properties as a method of encouraging people to renovate abandoned property.
But the controversy over the proposal has had some effect, he said. Some vacant property owners are already making repairs to their land and buildings, he said.
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- Locals Oppose Vacant Property Registry Ordinance Draft
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Email John Kelleher at email@example.com