CHETOPA — A substation switchover will result in a power outage on Wednesday night in Chetopa.

According to minutes from the Chetopa City Council’s Nov. 17 meeting, City Supervisor Bryan Midgett reminded the council members that Liberty Utilities — Empire District would be shutting off the city’s electricity on Nov. 18. The company, however, had to delay the shutdown while it waited for a part to arrive.

City Clerk Toni Crumrine said on Tuesday that the power shutoff is set to begin at 9 p.m. Wednesday. Electricity for the town will be off for four to six hours.

“Hopefully they’ll get it done faster than that,” Crumrine said.

The city has received many calls from people regarding the shutoff, but there is nothing the city can do about it.

Liberty Utilities will direct electricity to a new substation while the power is off.

Midgett plans to make some needed repairs to the city’s infrastructure while the power is off so that it won’t have to be turned off again. Police Chief Scott Feagan told the council on Nov. 17 that an additional officer would be on patrol during the time the power is off.

Crumrine said Melrose and Welch, Oklahoma, along with any other communities served by the Liberty Utilities substation also will not have electricity during the changeover.

Chetopa operates its own electricity utility, buying power wholesale from the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency, which must use Liberty lines for transmission. The city changed its wholesale supplier from Liberty to KMEA June 1 after Liberty informed Chetopa that its rates would dramatically increase under a new contract.

In other business in the Nov. 17 meeting, the council:

— Heard from council member Gearldine Castle that some items were blocking the alley between Plum and Mulberry streets. Feagan and Fire Chief Midgett planned to look at the alley. Castle also asked about the status of junk vehicles and about two mobile homes being stored next to the old medical clinic. Feagan planned to look at the mobile homes and provide an updated list of junk vehicles.

— Heard the employee Christmas party will be at 6 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Mae Lessley Community Building.

— Heard that Feagan and Midgett had met with an agent regarding life insurance for police officers, firefighters and Chetopa First Responders. They planned to have a meeting on Nov. 18 to give interested parties the opportunity to sign up for the policy. 

— Saw photos of the cleanup done by David Napier on lots on Main Street. Feagan asked if the work satisfied the city’s nuisance yard ordinance. The council had a lengthy discussion on the interpretation of the city code and decided that rotating vehicles every 30 days was in compliance with the ordinance and that the lots were sufficiently cleaned.

— Heard Mayor Tammy Bushong ask Feagan to give the police activity report that she receives to all of the council members. She also asked that a report covering Jan. 1 through the present be given to the council.

— Heard Bushong ask if a new testing lab had been selected to replace the Iowa lab that will no longer be certified for testing in Kansas. The city staff planned to ask the water plant supervisor about it.

— Received a spreadsheet detailing the purchases made with coronavirus relief funds passed down from Labette County. All of the money the city has received will be used for COVID-19-related expenses.

— Heard that Crumrine and Shane Adamson, the city’s attorney, will work on an ordinance revision to change the fee for excavating a sewer line from $100 to reflect the actual time spent digging. The council also was reminded that new sewer and water rates would go into effect in December. Sewer rates automatically increase by 1% each year and water rates by 5% unless the council acts against the increases.

— Heard that the library board requested that Virginia Davis be appointed to fill a vacancy. Davis had recently resigned but felt the reasons prompting her resignation had been resolved. Bushong questioned how the board recommendations were done and said the vacancy should be advertised to the public so anyone interested in serving on the board would be aware of it. The appointment was not made.

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