Turning its attention to another matter, the council listened to Michele Abbott-Becker, Marion County Emergency Preparedness manager. Considering recent tornadoes in Kansas cities, she stressed the importance of disaster planning.
“The city is responsible for its own response until it has exhausted all its resources,” she said.
Cities first look for local help, then county help, then state.
“Normally, it’s a cooperative effort,” she said. “Direction and control comes from you as a city. Ambulances and police from other cities can come and help.”
She mentioned search, rescue, and evacuation operations.
“Fortunately, we have a great group of responders," she said.
Abbott-Becker emphasized the importance of knowing what would be expected of volunteers in disaster situations.
“You have to know,” she said. “Are they volunteering their time? Their equipment?”
She said the city needs to have a plan for employees. For instance, would they be paid overtime?
Councilor Rick Freeman wondered how to get information to residents. Abbott-Becker said a radio station can be designated for city information. She said it is important to designate a person who could provide a press release two or three times a day to keep residents informed. She suggested designating a telephone line for only outgoing calls.
Abbott-Becker described the emergency response trailer that cities in Marion County can use in a disaster situation. She said it will have land-line telephone service, network for computers, radios, cell phone, satellite for Internet access, fax, printer and up to four work stations.
“You have space where you can function,” she said, talking about the need for the city to continue its operations. However, if several cities within the county experience the same disaster, the one with the most population has first priority for the trailer.
The council was told to have a “continuation of operations plan.” Abbott-Becker suggested having backup city information at different places off-site. She also suggested having a second person trained for every job.
Councilor Larry Schmidt suggested it would be good to review the emergency plan every six months or so. Mayor Peggy Jay added it would be good to include the fire department too.
In other business, the council:
heard Police Chief Joe Base report that his department had investigated a theft report, a child-custody dispute, a stalking report and multiple neighbor disputes. The department provided civil stand-by in a child-exchange situation. They had followed up on multiple dog complaints and sent letters in response to inoperable vehicle complaints. They investigated one theft report and issued one warning for a faulty tail light.
The department assisted the Marion County sheriff’s office with an accident and assisted emergency personnel on two calls.
heard that Base had attended a two-day conference in Hesston hosted by Heart to Heart child advocacy center, attended a taser certification class in Hillsboro and a firearms certification class in Marion.
heard that Tim Boese is in the application process for highway patrol training.
discussed the cleanup day that was scheduled for June 21. Two trash bins would be available. Councilor Jim Wiens suggested using one bin for construction and demolition materials that could be taken to Harvey County. City Clerk Anita Goertzen said the 4-H club would be collecting recyclables the same day.
heard Public Works Director Karen Dickerson report the fuel bill “was pretty high.”
heard that John Unruh had cleaned out the ditch by Bethesda Home. “We hauled 15 to 20 loads of dirt out of there,” Dickerson said. She would like a plan for cleaning more ditches, but the city does not have equipment that can do it.
heard that Dickerson put a screen on the lagoon to keep turtles out.
discussed a scaled-down version of a proposed water play park. The council agreed to a task force request that the city commit $10,000 toward a water play park by the end of 2009.
“It is an improvement for the city,” Councilor Duane Duerksen said. The remainder of the $50,000 project would come from fund-raisers and donations.
discussed the road by the baseball diamonds and the suggestion to build it up 10 inches.
heard that an open house in the Harvest Meadow development generated several compliments abut the new house.
heard Jay mention a class on setting water rates. Goertzen encouraged council members to attend the class. She said the city has not raised water rates for 10 years.
discussed an agreement with Crossroad Wireless. Goertzen had received favorable responses from other cities that have contracts with Crossroad.
scheduled a special meeting for 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 30, to discuss guidelines, policies and job descriptions.