COLUMBUS - City Councilman Rodney Oels was the first recipient of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce Columbus Spirit Award at Tuesday night's Columbus City Council Meeting.

Columbus Chamber President Mel Greene said Oels was given the award because he "believed he could make a difference." Oels was the driving force behind the creation of the Columbus Community Crusaders.

The council also approved a 10 year franchise agreement with Empire District Electric Company and a street lighting contract as well.

The franchise agreement gives Empire the right to use city right-of-way without having to get permission from the council anytime the company needs to replace a pole or dig up a buried line.

In addition the street lighting agreement obligates the city to pay for the power used by city street lights and pay an investment fee which is 9 percent of the cost of installing a street light.

Rick Hendricks, of Empire District, told the council the overall cost of installing lights is born by his company and the 9 percent fee goes to cover maintenece such as replacing bulbs or failed lights. As an example, he said, when the May 5 tornado wiped out hundreds or thousands of street lights in Joplin, Mo., Empire bore the total cost of replacement.

The council also agreed to a letter of support for MACO development which owns Apple Glen Apartments. MACO is attempting to get a state grant in order to renovate the apartments which were built in 1982.

In other business, the council:

Agreed to purchase two streetlights for the Lakewood West Addition, better known as the Crossland Addition.

Approved a bid of $25,838.17 from Mike Carpino Ford for a new four-door four-wheel drive truck for the city works department.

Referred to committee a suggestion to go out for bids on insurance for city buildings, and;

Passed a resolution requiring travel to conferences and schools on city business be preaproved by the council.