PMSA director resigns


News editor

During that part of the Peabody City Council meeting reserved for public comment, Peabody Main Street president Mary Avery informed Peabody's mayor and city council that on Friday afternoon, she had received Kristen Hooper's resignation from the position of Main Street director.

Hooper's resignation indicated she was leaving the position for personal reasons.

According to Avery, Peabody Main Street board of directors met Sunday afternoon and agreed to offer an interim director's position to Shane Marler of Hillsboro. Marler accepted the position and will serve for a minimum of six months.

Marler has worked on the organization committee of Peabody Main Street for several years and has been active in fund-raising events such as the benefit auction and Christmas chuckwagon supper.

Most recently he approached the organization with a plan to honor World War II veterans with a special celebration during Memorial Day weekend. That plan currently is moving forward with Marler as chairman.

In a telephone interview with Avery at press time, she indicated the board felt Marler possessed strengths that would be a plus for the program.

"I have also spoken to the state people and they are pleased we were able to resolve this issue quickly," she said. "We will miss Kristen's dedication and talents, but being able to bring Shane in will mean a smoother transition for the program."

Although Marler lives in Hillsboro, he and his wife own property in Peabody. Main Street board members waived the residency requirement since he will be filling the position for a limited time period.

Marler was present at the council meeting and spoke briefly.

"I am excited about having a chance to work for the community," he said. "My wife and I have ties to Peabody and I am familiar with the Main Street program. I think it is a good program that fits the community.

"I'm anxious to get started and I look forward to working with all of you."

Marler will begin training for the position this week.

Public works director Darren Pickens introduced Gayle Abney from Mayer Specialty Services in Goddard. Pickens asked Abney to address the council with a proposal for cleaning and maintenance of the city's sewer system.

The city has 133 blocks in its sewer system. Only 14 blocks have been replaced, and some of those replacements are close to 30 years old.

"When your sewer system was put in, its life expectancy was 35 years," said Abney. "That was probably top of the line technology at the time.

"But its underground, it is out of sight, and as long as people are able to flush they don't think about what might be going on in the pipes underground."

Abney creates a grid map of the city, dividing it into thirds or sixths. The city may select either a three-or six-year rotation for cleaning and maintenance.

While Mayer Specialty Services does not repair or replace sewer lines, Abney contends that a maintenance plan can prolong the life of the system by removing blockages and keeping pipes free of debris.

The company uses a vacuum truck to clean out lines in the areas they are cleaning. Debris is pulled out at the manhole. It is not flushed on through to become a problem somewhere else.

Pickens reminded the council that much of what ends up in the lines causes a great deal of damage to lift station pumps sending sewage to the lagoon system. Cleaning and repairing the pumps has been more expensive than anticipated when the system was installed.

After extensive discussion, council members approved a three-year cleaning and maintenance plan at a cost of $11,862 per year. Abney was not certain when the project would start, but said he would work with Pickens and aim for a time in the spring when the company might be doing several communities in this area.

Council approved the expenditure on a 4-1 vote with councilman Steve Rose opposed.

In other business, the council:

— declared the property at 606 N. Vine free of nuisance conditions pending a final check by health and safety officer Tammy Whiteside.

— heard a report by city treasurer Stephanie Ax about collection efforts on problem accounts. The council also approved training costs for a workshop on city finance. The request was approved 4-1, with councilman Rose opposed.

— heard from Pickens that city employees have filled holes in city streets with gravel. More permanent materials will be used when the weather is warmer and drier.

— approved a request for training for police chief Bruce Burke. Burke also received permission to equip the new police car with a radar unit paid for from department diversion funds.

— approved a plan by Burke to begin installing yield and stop signs in the city. The project will have a total cost of about $3,000 and will be spread over a two- to three-year period. Burke asked for permission to begin ordering some of the signs so they could be on hand when city employees have time to install them in the coming months.

— approved a plan by Kansas Department of Transportation to have them do maintenance work on any connecting link properties. In a related matter, councilman Larry Larsen agreed to address the issue of county maintenance on connecting links it maintains with the city. He will bring information back to the council about formally addressing the county commissioners about the issue.

— approved city administrator Jeff Benbrook's attendance at a budget workshop.

— heard the city has been served a summons to appear in small claims court on a complaint by Wayland Carson about the cleanup of his property at 213 Plum.

— heard from Benbrook the comprehensive plan surveys will be included in the March 1 water bills. The Kansas State University students working on the comprehensive plan will host a public meeting in March to reveal the results.

— approved a proclamation declaring April Fair Housing month in Peabody.

— approved a resolution of support for additional passenger rail service in Kansas by Northern Flyer Alliance, a group dedicated to the expansion of rail service between Kansas City, Mo., and Dallas, Texas.