CHETOPA — The city of Chetopa will seek funding to try to repair its sanitary sewer lines.
During a June 16 meeting, the Chetopa City Council agreed to proceed with a Community Development Block Grant application through the Kansas Department of Commerce.
City Supervisor Bryan Midgett reported that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment had contacted him about the number of bypasses at the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The city had reported 15 bypasses since March. When more water flows to the wastewater plant than it can handle, the water bypasses the treatment process and is dumped directly into the Neosho River.
City Clerk Toni Crumrine said on Tuesday that the problem is caused by stormwater infiltration into the sewage system during heavy rainfall. Several years ago during a sewage line project, the city had its lines videoed and found many collapses of the old clay lines. That allows stormwater to flow into the sewage system, overwhelming the treatment plant. The stormwater should go through the city’s drainage system and doesn’t need to be treated.
The city of Parsons has had the same issue of stormwater infiltration into its sewage system and is now under a compliance order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to correct the problem so that untreated water doesn’t bypass the treatment process. Crumrine said the EPA has not gotten involved with Chetopa’s bypass issue.
Crumrine said on Tuesday that the city was just in the preliminary stage of the CDBG process, and the council planned to discuss the issue again that night. Minutes from that meeting are not yet available.
In another issue in the June 16 meeting, the council accepted the resignation of Councilperson Betsy Koontz. The council also agreed to notify Chetopa residents about the council vacancy and give anyone interested in being a candidate to fill the position to express interest.
The resignation had been anticipated prior to the meeting. Koontz cited health reasons for her resignation.
In a June 2 meeting, the council heard that Scherrill McConnell was interested in filling the vacancy. In the June 16 meeting, Ernie Wulf introduced himself to the council and stated he also was interested in serving the unexpired term.
Koontz was appointed to the unexpired term of Jim Cooper, who resigned from the council in May 2017. She was elected to a four-year term in November 2017 that is set to expire in January.
Koontz was the president of the council, and the council elected Geraldine Castle as the new president. Castle voted against her nomination but was outvoted by the rest of the board.
Also in the meeting, the council agreed to get lifeguards trained and a manager hired so that the city’s public pool could open. Councilperson Gary Bryant voted no.
The council voted 3-3, with Mayor Tammy Bushong breaking the tie, on May 19 to keep the pool closed for the year. The city didn’t have enough certified lifeguards wanting to work for the summer, and the Labette Health CORE didn’t offer lifeguard training this year.
During the June 16 meeting, Councilperson Carthen Nash reported that his wife had found out that the city of Altamont was able to get lifeguards trained. Altamont opened its pool in June.
On Tuesday, however, Crumrine said the pool still probably couldn’t open this year, despite the council’s vote. No one applied to be a lifeguard this year, even if training was available. Only two certified lifeguards applied, and one was only available for limited hours. A third certified lifeguard offered to work if needed. By the time the city could find enough lifeguards and get them certified, it would be too late in the summer to open the pool.
Crumrine said Altamont’s pool manager was certified to teach lifeguard certification classes.
In other business on June 16, the council:
— Approved a charter ordinance that will change the city employee residency requirement. The city had to publish the ordinance twice and now must wait 61 days after the final publication for the charter ordinance to become effective. The city previously required city employees to live within city limits. The new ordinance will allow workers to live within 10 miles of the city limits.
— Heard that a utility installation ordinance had not been completed.
— Heard from attorney Robert Myers that Shane Adamson could be available for the next meeting. Adamson, who normally serves as the city attorney, has been absent from meetings because of a health condition, and Myers has been filling in for him.
— Heard from Roberts that the only way to change the allowed use of property in the Hornet Addition would be to have the Chetopa/St. Paul USD 505 board, the city council and all property owners in the addition agree to the change. Ron Seaman has offered to buy a lot next to his house to build a garage, but a covenant on the property wouldn’t allow that. Crumrine said the council planned to discuss the issue on Tuesday.
— Heard discussion on the purchase of a police truck to replace a Dodge Charger. A new truck purchased through the Kansas Highway Patrol would cost $28,150 and could take up to 240 days to receive.
— Agreed to contact Casey Doyle for an updated quote for removing the stained-glass windows at the former city building. Wayne Hester wants the city to give up ownership of the windows because he has a buyer for the building and wants to sell it without liens.
— Confirmed Bushong’s appointments of Midgett as fire chief, Justin Nading as assistant fire chief and Kenny Underwood as secretary/treasurer of the Chetopa Fire Department. The fire department members had elected the three. The council also confirmed the fire department roster, which consists of Midgett; Nading; Capts. Ryan Darnell, Joey Midgett and Nathan Blackledge; Lts. Kenny Underwood, Zach Lawellin and Tait Johnson; firefighters Steve Blackledge, Jerry Midgett, Brock Banzet, Lane Rathjen, Kyle Darnell, Carthen Nash, Philip Moses, Lane Kabrey, Josh Moore, Bo Sharp, Jeremy Bates and Colton Vanatta; and junior firefighters Wyatt Vanatta and Dakota Pease.
— Agreed to have cattle panels installed at a park until other options could be considered. Midgett also told the council that he contacted the Kansas Department of Transportation regarding bank erosion and debris on the bridge.
— Heard from Midgett that a Chetopa High School senior had asked if he could ride on a fire truck to the school’s prom, which was on June 20. No one had objections.
— Heard that applications were still being taken for a mowing position.
— Received information regarding special assessments levied on two parcels of the old mill property.
— Heard an explanation of Bushong’s approval of a purchase of a new Bush Hog. The cost to repair an old one was not cost-effective, so she approved the purchase of the new one so that the city wouldn’t get behind on mowing. Jim Blundell had inquired about the city’s old mowers, and the council agreed to take sealed bids on excess equipment.
— Heard from Castle that another travel trailer had been pulled in by Jim Hoggatt, possibly against the city’s building codes. She also said that the old Pepe Mexican Restaurant property needed to be moved and asked if a building permit had been issued for a resident making improvements to a house. Castle also asked if the council could start getting a report on the camping fees collected by the city because she has wondered if all money due was being collected.
— Heard from Midgett that a starter had been installed in a city truck and that the truck was being taken to Josh Moore’s shop for further repairs.
— Heard from Police Chief Scott Feagan that officer Michael Billingsly had passed a challenge test but not a shooting test and would need to attend two more days of training.