New water tower grows closer

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA GOERZEN
Arlen Goertzen, Goessel public works director, told the city council at the March 21 meeting that the new water tower is closer to becoming a reality.

Goertzen said the pre-construction meeting was scheduled for March 25. After the formalities have taken place, the water tower should be completed within 320 days.

He said the foundation crew is ready to dig a test hole. The new tower will be 25 feet higher than the present one and will provide 11 pounds more water pressure.

Council member Larry Schmidt reported that unacceptable materials have been found at the community burn site, including two-by-four lumber with nails. Schmidt also said someone had dumped bagged trash. A letter will be sent to all who have a key to the burn site to remind them of the requirements.

Goertzen said the mulch by the burn site will be ready in about another month. The dry winter has slowed the composting process.

Pete Flaming of Bethesda Home attended the meeting to ask the city to write a letter of approval for tax credits, which is a program of the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing.

Flaming said taxpayers can benefit from the tax-credit program and explained how the nursing home has benefited. He said the 12-bed special-care unit and the new front drive/entrance are two examples of projects that have been funded through the program.

Flaming said four phases of the long-term plan have been completed. Phase 5 includes plans for a new shop. Phase 6 has plans for more nursing-care rooms. He said the goal is to eventually have 60 beds. Plans call for demolishing the east annex and replacing it with assisted-living rooms that would be 385 square feet, compared to the current assisted-living rooms that have 200 square feet. One of the new rooms would have 500 square feet.

Flaming said the new “neighborhood” concept is an effort to make nursing homes feel more residential than institutional.

The council approved the first reading of a franchise agreement with Kansas Gas Service.

Bruce Harris of KGS attended the meeting to discuss renewing the franchise agreement with the city. Since KGS has a major investment in equipment, they preferred a 20-year franchise. He said a clause in the agreement allows the city to reopen negotiations during the 20-year period.

It was explained that League of Municipalities recommends a 5-percent franchise fee, which KGS would pay to the city for gas sold in the city.

The city receives revenue from a 1-percent franchise fee for cable television and 3 percent for electricity.

In other business:

Goertzen reported he had attended a mosquito-control seminar in McPherson. He said West Nile disease had been a problem in New York City in 1999. It is an encephalitis-type virus that can cause short-term memory loss, flu-like symptoms and possible paralysis.

“I’m going to try to be as aggressive as I can at treating the adult mosquitoes and standing water to kill larvae,” he said. “All of the chemicals are target-specific. They’re harmless to anything else.”

Goertzen wanted to be sure residents understood that the mosquito chemicals will not kill fish.

The police department reported that officers had driven 598 miles, issued three warnings and four notices to appear, and cleared one building that had an open door. Police officers Joe Base and Eric Reed plan to attend the police academy in May.

The council commended Reed for the manner in which he handled an incident involving local youth. The council had received a letter of appreciation from a resident regarding the incident.

After reviewing court costs for surrounding cities, the council decided to raise Goessel’s court fee to $45. The state receives $7.50 of that amount. The city’s court fee had been $25.

Goertzen reported the recreation commission has installed irrigation at the west baseball field. He also discussed electrical service to the ball fields. He said nearly 1,180 feet of trenching would be needed.

The council approved the purchase of a back-hoe bucket for $555 and a drill press.

The council discussed the capital-improvement projection resolution but tabled action due to time constraints. Mayor Peggy Jay suggested ear-marking funds for streets for the future. It was pointed out that the recent Main Street overlay project is projected to last two years.

Council members were encouraged to attend the emergency command exercise March 25 at Marion City Hall.

The council approved the request of city clerk Anita Goertzen to attend two budget seminars.

Clerk Goertzen reviewed insurance coverage with the council. They examined the coverage for the city’s buildings, contents of the buildings, sirens and telephone poles and water and sewer equipment. The city building/library is covered for $177,000 with an additional $76,300 for contents. The lift station is insured for $20,000.

However, Arlen Goertzen said, “You’re not going to replace much for $20,000.”

The council approved a health-insurance rate increase.

In a special meeting March 5, the council voted to make an offer to purchase the property directly south of the city building.

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