Goessel City Council passes mask ordinance

Due to coronavirus concerns, the Goessel city council met by zoom on November 16. Mayor Dave Schrag talked about the rising number of coronavirus cases in Marion County. “We need to do something now,” he said. Council member Evan Esau agreed, “We need to do it sooner than later.”

Schrag mentioned caution about gatherings. “I think closing the community room would be a good step forward.” Council member Kevin Klassen commented, “I would be in agreement.” The council voted unanimously to close the community room due to coronavirus concerns. The community room will not be available to rent for a while.

Klassen also asked about the library. City Clerk Jennifer Bliss said not as many people are coming in right now, and the library is no longer open on Tuesdays. It was noted that some people depend on the library for access to a computer.

The council turned their attention to discussing the matter of masks. Schrag said the Marion County nurse, Diedre Serene, had gone to the county commission many times asking for a mask mandate. However, Schrag said, “They don’t have the backbone to do it.”

Schrag noted that the school requires masks, and the bank requires masks in the lobby. He said the grocery store would definitely be in favor of a mask mandate.

Council members acknowledged that “people have very polarized views” about masks. However, the council noted that Newton Medical Center is full and is diverting patients. But Wichita hospitals are full too, as are other hospitals in the area.

With a vote of four to one, the council passed a mask ordinance, Ordinance #289.

The ordinance mentions the increase in COVID-19 cases and the spiking numbers of hospitalizations and deaths. The ordinance states that this “increased COVID-19 spread is a danger to the health and safety of every person in the City of Goessel and also presents a serious threat” to the Goessel economy.

The ordinance also states that “wearing a mask in public is the easiest and most effective way to protect each other and help keep our businesses open and our economy running.”

It was noted that Susan Robson, city attorney, certified the mask ordinance summary.

Turning their attention to another matter, the council discussed the sewer project and issues with KC Construction. Council member Ben Schmidt said that KC Construction has not paid for damages at the school. The construction company damaged the school’s practice field irrigation system during the sewer project work. KC Construction has still not paid the bill and has not acknowledged repeated emails from the city asking for payment.

The council noted that KC Construction has not paid for damages to a driveway either.

The council talked about the city’s backhoe that was used for the sewer project. It needs to be replaced. Schrag told the council about grant money that is available to buy a newer backhoe. Grant money would pay two-thirds of the cost, which would amount to approximately $60,000.

In other business, the council:

* discussed junk property within the city and heard that Ben Steketee, building inspector, was planning to look at properties in town that have not been maintained, including one at the trailer park. The junk north of the gas station was also discussed.

* heard the audit report from Stephen Connelly. He reported that the city had no violations. He said the city is operating efficiently year after year. He said his audit shows that the city has good fiscal management. He highly commended Bliss for her work.

* talked about a water line on easement property that has broken twice due to earthquakes. The city has already poured new concrete on the property twice at city expense. The owner wants it to be replaced again. Schrag said the concrete pad will continue to drop. Dalke said it costs $600 to get the concrete dug out. Council members suggested splitting the cost of replacing the concrete with the owner. They also suggested patching the area or using rock instead of concrete.

* heard about painting that had been done at the park. Dalke reported that she had also painted bridges in town.

* heard that the city did not get a grant for resurfacing Main Street. The council talked about a chip and seal project instead.

* heard from Schrag and public works director Karen Dalke about installing a back-up generator at the well.

* authorized using Purple Wave to sell a generator that the city does not use.

* talked about replacing the police car.