The Chetopa City Council chose a new member early this month.

During a regular meeting on Nov. 3, the council selected Ashley Brown to serve the remainder of the term of Carthen Nash, who resigned on Sept. 15 after moving out of town. Brown is a Bill Thompson Insurance employee.

Brown joined Scherrill McConnell and Bob Boyd at the meeting as candidates for the unexpired term. Two other Chetopa residents, Pam Campbell and Randy Erb, also had expressed interest in joining the council but were unable to attend the meeting.

The council allowed Brown, McConnell and Boyd to introduce themselves and asked each why they wanted to serve on the council and how available they would be for meetings.

Council member Gary Bryant then moved to appoint McConnell to the board, but his motion died because of a lack of a second. Mayor Tammy Bushong then asked to reinstate Bryant’s motion and seconded it. She and Bryant voted for McConnell, but council members Juanita Kepner, Geraldine Castle, Ernie Wulf and Linda Seaman voted no.

The council then unanimously elected Brown to the position. City Clerk Toni Crumrine swore her in, and Brown took a seat at the council table for the rest of the meeting.


Sewer project

Also in the Nov. 3 meeting, the council learned that the Osage Nations has requested that a cultural resource survey be conducted before a pending sewer project.

The city plans to repair the wastewater system to hopefully solve a problem of too much water leading to the sewage treatment plant. Stormwater infiltrates 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 has applied for a grant to repair or replace the broken wastewater lines. The project is estimated to cost close to $3 million.

Grant administrator Carey Spoon notified the city by email about the Osage Nations request. The Osage Nations submitted a list of archaeological consultants that they preferred and a list of consultants that they prefer not work in Osage ancestral territory. Bruce Boettcher with BG Consultants is checking into the request. Spoon and Phillip Fishburn with Midwest Assistance Program have said they would help with the survey.

Crumrine wanted the council to be aware of the potential added cost to the project if the survey is required.


In other business the council:

— Heard Crumrine report on the purchasing of items using COVID-19 relief funding and that Labette County has requested that all purchases be made by mid-November. Any remaining money not being utilized would be returned to the county the first week in December. The county must spend all of its money by the end of the year or return it back to the state.

— Agreed to renew Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas medical and dental insurance for city workers for 2021. The council also agreed to a 4% increase for the city’s Freedom Claims Management Inc. insurance coverage. Freedom Claims covers the city’s health care costs up to the BCBS deductible, allowing the city to carry a high deductible from BCBS. Scott Day with Day Insurance Solutions LLC said BCBS had increased the deductible to $7,000, so FCMI would have to increase rates to maintain the claims account to pay monthly insurance claims. 

— Extended the deadline by 60 days for Lenora Humphrey to complete the fencing around her vehicles.

— Heard Sherry O’Neill discuss the prowling, burglaries and dogs running loose around Belmore Apartments. She asked the council to consider extra patrol coverage at night or hiring a security guard. Police Chief Feagan reported that evening-shift officers have been patrolling more and walking around the facilities. He also asked that the manager call him to discuss the issues. It was explained that the Belmore board would be responsible for hiring a security guard as the city does not own or operate the apartment facility.

— Heard that Bushong was advised to have the city attorney write a letter to the Kansas Department of Transportation concerning the bridge buildup debris that is eroding the bank along the Neosho River.

— Agreed to have an employee Christmas party and to allow Nash to spend $2,000. Nash, the former council member, volunteered to cook the meat and buy prizes from local businesses for the party.

— Heard from Crumrine that there have been fraudulent unemployment claims filed and that the city has only had two claims submitted.

— Heard Crumrine discuss two handicap-accessibility issues. The city needs to pave a handicapped parking spot at the city building and level a lip on a door to allow wheelchairs to enter the building.

— Heard that Crumrine gave permission to Falcon Roofing to put door hangers on doors.

— Heard that the administrator of the company remodeling the old Chetopa Community Clinic had asked if the city could put rock in the parking area west of Chesnutt Park. Crumrine said the company did not own the Chesnutt Park lot. The council agreed that no rock should be placed until the clinic is open. Boa Vida Healthcare is the management company for the Oswego Regional Hospital, which is the working name of the former Oswego Community Hospital. The company plans to reopen the hospital along with clinics in Oswego and Chetopa.

— Heard that the flags at Veterans Memorial had been replaced.

— Heard that Mike Tyler, water plant supervisor, is in the process of finding a new testing lab. Samples will be sent to the new lab beginning in December. The city had been notified that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment would no longer accept analysis of samples by University Hygienic Laboratory of Iowa.

— Removed the filling of the city helper position from the agenda. The council will consider hiring a city helper next year.

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