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Peabody City Council: End is near for some lingering issues

Marler appointed as permanent PMSA director

Staff writer

Closure to the sewer project continues to drag on as the city awaits notification of “no further action” from Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Interim city clerk Stephanie Ax said Monday evening she had received assurance that KDHE plans to issue the notice by mid-February.

Requests for bids have been sent to area contractors in hopes of having a contractor lined-up and ready to go when KDHE releases the project. The city hopes to have the demolition of the former sewer plant completed to accommodate planting grass over the area in the fall.

Bids were received from a number of contractors, but Ax said she was waiting for additional bids. The council wants to order the closeout of the project at the next meeting.

Union Pacific Railroad representatives were in town Friday to review the city’s claim of damages to Plum Street and several crossing streets when extensive railroad repairs was done in 2008.

The city filed a claim several months ago, but there was no action from the railroad. Ax requested information on the claim.

Councilman Larry Larsen, city employees Darren Pickens, Bruce Burke, and Ronnie Harms accompanied the railroad representatives as they viewed the problem areas highlighted in the claim.

No decision was made during the visit, but city officials hope to soon resolve the issue.

Another topic that has been in the works for some time was resolved when the city approved the memorandum of agreement between the city and Peabody Main Street. PMSA board member Susie Schmidt presented the document, which outlines the duties and responsibilities of each group.

After some discussion, city council members approved the agreement and then moved forward to approve a request by Schmidt to hire Shane Marler as executive director of PMSA. He has served as interim director since he replaced Kristen Gray in March of 2008.

A unanimous vote was cast for Marler.

In other business:

  • Mowing issues near the home of Richard Knauf on Plum Street were discussed. Council members agreed to review the properties and boundaries to determine ownership and arrange for mowing if necessary.
  • Amendment of the Standard Traffic Ordinance was tabled until the next meeting to give council members a chance to review the changes.
  • A directional sign at Ninth and Locust streets will be erected to guide visitors to Legacy Park.
  • A payment of $50 to Kansas Mayor Association was approved for annual dues.
  • A payment of one-half the cost of lodging for Kelly Cook to attend two days of firefighter training, the purchase of a refrigerator to store water and sewer samples, and annual subsidies of $900 each to the fire and ambulance departments were approved.
  • Council members reviewed preliminary 2009 budget information, heard about prioritized costs and needs for interior improvements to the new city shop, and discussed ownership of the Newton Outlet Mall sign on the FFA farm grounds and the responsibility of the owner, Clear Channel, to maintain the sign.
  • Tammy Whiteside presented an updated list of nuisance properties and the action taken to move toward abatement on each.
  • Ronnie Harms addressed the council and reported that complaints about watercolor and odor problems have slowed considerably. He attributed part of that to the change of seasons, saying some of the problems likely would resurface in warm weather. He and the Hillsboro water plant staff will continue to work on plans for improvement and a budget to accommodate some infrastructure upgrades.
  • Marler gave a report on Peabody Main Street, noting the “Shop Peabody” campaign has begun, the new benches are in and awaiting placement, another Operation Celebration is in the planning stages, Beth Eldridge has been named president of PMSA, Morgan Marler will be promotion committee chairman, and Susie Schmidt will head design.
  • Marler also presented preliminary numbers for costs associated with providing power and water to the industrial park north of U.S.-50 at Prairie Lawn Street. Westar provided an estimate of $225,000 to bring in basic electrical service. A six-inch water line would cost the city $500,000 because of the need to bore under the highway. Council members briefly discussed the information and moved on, taking no action.
  • The burn pit passed a KDHE inspection.
  • Literature about U.S. census bureau jobs soon will be available at the city office.
  • The IRS is planning to include cell phone usage by city employees as a taxable benefit because employees who are issued city phones often use them for personal calls. Precise records would have to be kept on each phone to accommodate the government. Ax is looking at other options for Peabody employees.

Last modified Feb. 11, 2009

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