Ownership of school buildings in Florence was once again a matter of discussion Monday night for Florence Mayor Greg Winn and Florence council members.
Winn announced that city attorney Marilyn Wilder had given a go-ahead to a contract between the city and Marion County Special Education Cooperative for the purchase and subsequent leasing of the gymnasium. Winn said the co-op also was holding a Monday night meeting and reviewing the contract.
He expected the agreement to be accepted and signed this week.
Winn also noted the future of two former school buildings once again up for grabs.
Former owners Larry and Karen Hastings of El Dorado sold the buildings to James Willoughby, also of El Dorado in 2007. Willoughby then found a buyer who agreed to keep someone on the premises to reduce vandalism, keep the property mowed, tear the buildings down, haul of the salvage material and fill the property.
However, Winn told the council that the buyer never followed through with any of his promises and Willoughby is now looking at other avenues to divest himself of the properties.
Winn said an auctioneer was in town during the past week to view the buildings and find out about the city’s position.
Winn noted that nothing official yet has come of the visit.
Council members discussed piles of dead trees at the former football field on Eighth Street. Local firefighters tried to burn the piles a few weeks ago, but they were covered in mud from being pushed together into piles. Firefighters were unable to keep the fires going because of the dirt.
City superintendent Phil Baldwin reported that John Siebert spent a day working two piles with a skid loader. Siebert estimated it would cost the city $8,000 to $9,000 to pull the trees from the piles, shake off the mud, and restack them for burning.
After discussion, council members agreed to look more closely at an offer by a volunteer to do the work.
In other business, the council:
- approved a resolution to adopt an identity theft program to be integrated into the city’s billing program. City clerk Janet Robinson will administer the program. The State of Kansas mandated that each municipality have such a program in place by Nov. 1.
- heard from John Swarm that his proposal to repair the roof on the former city building would include Swarm supervising the job. A Tonganoxie roofing company will do the work at a cost of $4,000. Swarm assured the council that the roof would last six to eight years.
- authorized the purchase of additional cold pack crack seal for city streets.
- heard from Mary Jane Grimmett the fall festival will be Nov. 1 at Grandview Park rather than at Stringtown as previously planned.
- approved purchases by the fire department for two batteries for the Hummer at a cost of $165 each, two radio batteries at $75 each, and a radio charger for $63.
- heard from Baldwin fall cleanup went well. Winn had sent a letter to residents prior to the cleanup telling them there would be a $25 charge for pickup of construction and demolition material. (Last spring the city was stuck with several hundred dollars in charges to dispose of “C&D” material residents threw out.) There was no such material placed at the curb during the recent clean up.
- heard from Baldwin that Marsh Buggy will be in Florence around Dec. 1 to break up log jams on the Cottonwood River. The city will get FEMA help to pay for the cleanup.
- agreed to provide two more loads of rock for the cemetery lanes.
- approved the purchase of a bullet-proof vest for police chief Conroy Miller and heard a report of police department activities and calls for the past two weeks. In a related issue, councilman Bryan Harper commended Miller on the department’s performance. “I haven’t heard any of the old complaints about our police department,” said Harper. “In fact I haven’t heard any discussion about them. I figure if no one is talking about a certain group, they must be doing things right.”
- requested a budget update from Robinson so they could examine which departments are still within their budgets as the city approaches the end of the year.
- heard that cement had been poured in Veteran’s Park and the end of the project is getting closer.