Alva Review-Courier -

Kiowa City Hall closed to public as precaution of COVID-19

• Shooting Club discussion favorable

 

March 18, 2020



Monday evening around 9:30, Kiowa (Kansas) City Administrator Rusty Varnado posted on the city's website the following announcement, “Until further notice, the city offices will be closed to the public. We will continue to take utility payments over the phone or you utilize the drop slot at the front door. All city services will continue. We will be available through phone 620-825-4128 and email cityadmin@kiowaks.org. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

Varnado told the Newsgram this is due to the Corona Virus and said, “We will still conduct all normal city business (police, trash, streets, etc.,) and all city hall business. We just will not allow people in the building to do it. It's all for precaution. Many cities in Kansas are doing some variation of this.”

Kiowa's City Council met for their monthly meeting March 9. All members were present as Mayor Bill Watson called the meeting to order: Council President R.L.Simpson (who was reelected to that position at this meeting); B.J Duvall, Brian Hill, Tom Wells, Jason Thayer. Others seated at the council chambers were: Varnado, city attorney Brandon Ritcha and city clerk Trish Brewer. The mayor opened with council members and the small group of members of the public saying the Pledge of Allegiance followed by Simpson offering a prayer.

The mayor's appointment of Travis Peterson as the new Kiowa Chief of Police received council approval. Peterson was sworn in to office by Brewer.

During the cash and budget report, Varnado told council members as he worked on the budget he found the $57,000 the fire department accrued over time and put back toward the purchase of a new fire truck. He put that money back in the fire fund.

Kiowa Fire Chief Bill Duvall said the fire department plans a fundraiser to help purchase a new fire truck which will cost over $100,000. Details will be announced.

Varnado also reported that all the loan money is in place for Kiowa's major waterline replacement project, estimated at $8 million. The land easements are almost all signed. The council also approved going with the railroad's insurance ($5193) for this project as it will be quicker and avoid more delays.

The administrator presented a street maintenance plan for 2020, which council approved. The cost is $95,000 and Varnado said they'll do 31 blocks. This is to improve streets through chip seal, purchase gravel and replace signs that no longer meet height requirements.

The city's swimming pool maintenance for 2020 was awarded to Brewer Restoration and Coatings of Hutchinson for $23,868. They will clean (sandblast), repair and paint the pool.

Kiowa's Community Building needs lots of work. There are floor issues; a leaky roof that's allowed birds to get in and die; bathrooms that need remodeled to meet ADA standards and much more. Varnado said he wants to apply for a CDBG grant in 2021 for improvements. Termites are an immediate problem. Council approved a contract with Red Rock for $3,450 for termite removal.

The council voted to advertise to hire one part-time employee to conduct code enforcement and administrative duties.

Randy Robbins and Varnado both gave more details about starting a shooting club from membership to the city's liability insurance. “It will be a great place for kids and adults to shoot,” Robbins said. Bows and arrows can be shot there as well as BB guns.

Hazelton Water Issue, Tree Dump, Recycling Loss

Varnado explained a problem the City of Hazelton had with their water usage and billing. During Hazelton's maintenance on their water tower site late last year they allowed a continual flow of water. Their typical monthly consumption is 300,000 gallons for which Kiowa charges $2.84 per thousand gallons. December's usage was 3,727,000 gallons, which generated a bill of $10,584.68. So Hazelton requested a one-time rate reduction to $2/gallon. That would reduce their bill to $7,454. Varnado said Hazelton's mayor is checking with their vendor on whether or not they can get a price reduction to cover the cost of water loss.

There was much discussion but no action on the City of Kiowa entering an interlocal agreement with the Kiowa Township. This regards the tree dump that the City of Kiowa administers and the cemetery administered by Kiowa Township.

Varnado said the tree dump generates no revenue for the city and is “an administrative burden.” With the agreement, the city would assume responsibility for the cemetery. The township would assume responsibility and liability for the tree dump. The township would transfer the 2.567 mills to the city. The council wants more research before deciding.

Varnado said he was to meet with Nisly Brothers Trash Service of Hutchinson regarding what they could offer for the city's recycling. “Our recycling center is a money loser for the city.” He said he's aware recycling is a community service but he's concerned about the loss.

He reminded councilmen they could better stand the loss from recycling at one time, but that's before they had a $400,000 building bond; a $600,000 lease/purchase on generators; a $220,000 lease/purchase on a bucket truck; and an $8 million water project.

When the city started the recycling center, recyclables sold for $100/ton. Now it's dropped to $20/ton, Varnado said. When asked further he estimates the city spends at least $50,000 annually in utilities, fuel, vehicle wear and tear, salaries, benefits, liability insurance into that facility. He is certain the revenue is not even close to $50,000 but did not have that readily available at press time. Kiowa Tree Board Gives Annual Report, Chamber Event Update

Carolyn McGinley and Carra Mayberry attended as representatives of the Kiowa Tree Board. Established in February 1996, the board is responsible for the planting of an estimated 204 trees/bushes at a cost of $8076.

This is the 24th consecutive year for Kiowa to get the “Tree City USA” award. In April they will celebrate Arbor Day and plant trees with the help of the FFA. Tree board members give a planting lesson to fifth graders and present them with seed packets. Member Bev Miller was complimented for arranging and maintaining the baskets of flowers in front of businesses on Main Street. The General Store donates to the downtown beatification.

In 2019 they planted two Oklahoma Red Buds in Centennial Park. They plan to plant six more this year. The tree board requested $600 from the city for their projects this year. The council approved the request and thanked the tree board for their beautification of the community.

Kiowa Chamber President Janet Robison gave everyone a handout with all the chamber event dates for 2020: Easter Egg Hunt, April 11; Pioneer Days, April 25; Labor Day Weekend and All-School Reunion, Sept. 6 and 7; October Fest, Oct. 25; and Christmas in the Heartland, Dec. 6.

 

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