Recent water emergency drawing to a close at Florence

An update to the saga of the Florence municipal water filtration plant was given at the May 17 Florence City Council meeting.

No new information had been received regarding the repair of the clear-well cover, but City Superintendent Ken Hoffman reported the recent water emergency was drawing to a close.

The plant’s wiring system had taken an electrical hit during a recent storm. Water had to be purchased and hauled in from Peabody because the system was unable to keep up with demand.

The pumps have since been brought back online; lightning and power surge protection equipment will be researched to help prevent a reoccurrence.

“Everybody worked together,” Hoffman said of the water crisis. He thanked the city of Hillsboro for assistance, coordination and use of water pumps, the city of Peabody for setting up access to its water hydrants, the Florence Fire Department for providing trucks and hose, Gorges Dairy employees for hauling water in their milk trucks, and city summer help and volunteers for giving their time.

Pumps have also been causing problems at the city swimming pool. A new $1,700 filter pump will be installed to replace the original and a new sump pump was ordered for the area around the pool.

Light wiring was also found in disrepair and will be corrected, including voltage running through grounding wire due to a short.

Street lights have been replaced and the pool is in the process of being resurfaced.

Hoffman thanked volunteers for these projects as well, and announced pool passes and tickets will be sold for the same prices they were last year.

The council made the following appointments: Brian Harper as council representative for Ward II; Tony Leeds as fire chief; City Clerk Darla Gore as freedom of information officer; Virgil Britton to his first term on the Library Board; Jolene Gayle to her second term on the Library Board; and Bev Baldwin to the Economic Development Board, rather than Jolene Gayle as had been announced at the previous council meeting.

Later, Councilor Randy Mills gave a quick answer to recent accusations that the council hasn’t had a freedom of information officer before this time. Mills said the council had not actually received any legal censure and “any comments to the contrary are strictly hearsay.”

In other business, the council:

— heard about a meeting the Economic Development Board would be having with David Darling from Kansas State at 2 p.m., June 3. The ambulance building will be used if available, and supper will be served after the meeting opens to the public at 5 p.m.

— heard that the Chamber of Commerce has agreed to pay for a city brochure that will be distributed around the state.

— reiterated that lumber may not be burned at the city burn pit; pallets may not legally be burned at all due to Kansas Department of Health and Environment regulations.

— considered a request from Belinda Engler of the Marion County Special Education Cooperative to use a shady area of the football field to allow school children to ride horses in a pen during the school year.

The council will see if a legal waiver can be drawn up to allow citizens to use the field for other purposes as well without causing liability issues for the city.

— agreed to pay the yearly lease of $500 to use the spring for the municipal water supply.

— heard that culverts will be sprayed out with fire hoses to with the hope of reducing the need to dig more drainage ditches.

— heard that the fire department will spend $120 from its general fund on a hose adaptor and $700 from its rural fund for two packs and four bottles already in the department’s possession.

One fire truck’s non-functioning alternator will also be replaced at the fire department’s expense if warranty service is not available.

— thanked Harvey Mills for donating a grass trimmer to the city and to Kevin Robinson for mowing.

— heard ambulance director Scott Zogelman ask people to thank local Emergency Medical Services volunteers during “EMS Week.” Zogelman estimated the volunteers have saved the city $36,000 in wages based on amount of on-call time logged.

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