Florence PRIDE receives state grant for park

Community hits the jackpot a second time


News editor

With obvious excitement PRIDE committee chairman Sue Klassen shared good news Monday evening with Florence mayor and council members. For the second time in a month, the city has found itself on the receiving end of a large grant. Florence Fire Department received a $44,000 grant in January.

A letter to Klassen from Kansas Department of Commerce announced the department's intention to offer PRIDE an $84,000 grant to complete work on Veteran's Park in downtown Florence. PRIDE will need provide $41,000 of its own as a match, but that amount does not all need to be in cash.

"They will allow us to use in-kind donations," said Klassen. "Volunteer labor, postage or supplies from the city or chamber, that kind of thing all can be used toward the matching money.

"And we have to get the project finished in a year," she added. "We are very excited to have been chosen for this."

Klassen said a representative from Kansas Department of Commerce will come to Florence to review the regulations and requirements with PRIDE members. She hoped city officials also would be willing to attend.

Klassen said PRIDE has several fund-raising plans to present soon. The committee currently is selling bricks to be used in a sidewalk at the park. They hope to get all Florence veterans to put in an engraved brick, but the effort is not limited to veterans. Anyone can purchase one.

Klassen reminded officials and the audience that order forms for the bricks are available at the city office.

Mayor Greg Winn congratulated PRIDE members and said, "We appreciate the hard work and effort you all have given this project. Please come see us if there is something we can do."

Council members heard from Marion County Planning and Zoning director Bobbi Strait about the failure to comply by Larry and Karen Hastings regarding the city's demand they secure the former school buildings they own on Doyle.

"The 96 hours are up. In fact they were up days ago," she said. "I suggest Phil (Baldwin) weld locks to the doors, they be padlocked shut, and you send the bill for materials and labor to the Hastings."

Strait also noted that she entered the brick building again and took additional photos. A CD with the photos on it was given to police chief Conroy Miller.

Strait instructed city clerk Janet Robinson to send Larry and Karen Hastings a "failure to comply" letter.

She also agreed to look into having the county attorney proceed with the case on the city's behalf.

In other business, the council:

— heard from councilman Trayce Warner that a list of city equipment had been reviewed for insurance purposes. The Toro mower needed to be added to the list and then the list forwarded to Bill Hendricks, the city's agent.

— denied a request by Michelle Avis of the Hillsboro Free Press to install a web cam in the council room so she can continue to cover city meetings for her publication. Avis has moved to Kansas City. The council voted 4-0 to deny the request.

— heard from Baldwin that a plugged sewer on Marion Street was resolved only after hiring a firm from Goddard to come in with special equipment to clean it out. Baldwin said he asked the company to schedule an eight-hour day at $165 an hour to work on several problem areas in the community.

Baldwin also told council members the company had taken a copy of the sewer line map and would make a new one, dividing the city into three grids which they would maintain and service on a three-year rotating plan. Baldwin will address the council about the plan when he has more information.

— instructed Baldwin to contact Troy Moore for the correct location of boundary lines from Eighth Street to U. S.-50.

— approved the purchase of four new tires for a police car.

— heard from Robinson that Westar franchise fee is up for renewal soon and a representative will be present at the next meeting to review the city's options. Funds from the franchise fee are returned to the city.

— heard from Warner that Doyle and Fairplay townships will meet in March. Warner will attend and address the need to increase funding from those townships to Florence Fire Department.

— instructed councilman Bryan Harper to get in touch with Charles DeForest about the city's lease on the spring that supplies water for Florence.

— heard from Winn that a meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 15 in the ambulance room for the purpose of finalizing the city's emergency preparedness plan. Winn invited anyone interested in helping to attend. He hopes to have a final plan ready to present to council in late March or early April.