190621_hwnews_work

By Joey May

Work began on the intersection of Utah and Sixth streets this week as the Seventh and Utah intersection opened back up to traffic. AHRS Construction has been working on the 600 block of Utah since mid-April and is a little behind schedule due to several weeks of rain. City officials just Monday night approved longer working hours for the crews working on this downtown area, as well as roads near the high school and on Miami Street, with a plan to be finished with those areas near the schools before classes are back in session. Work downtown around the square is estimated to be completed in July.

Due to language in their contract, AHRS Construction, who is performing the work on the City Streets Sales Tax project has been sticking to business hours to this point in the project, but with summer heat approaching and delayed by weather, the City Commission voted Monday evening to push the crew’s available start time to 5 a.m. to no later than 10 p.m.

The vote also included a provision to allow AHRS to work during regular business hours on Saturdays and holidays, in an attempt to move the project along.

Mayor Bill Collins said he was aware that the early start time would be inconvenient for some, but that sacrifice is sometimes necessary for progress. City Administrator Mike Nichols noted that he AHRS crews have been moving much quicker with the recent improved weather, and that the roads in front of the high school and elementary school should both be completed before school is back in session. Nichols also informed the commission that work on Utah Street is going well, with the brick completed and the intersection open on 7th Street, while the 6th Street intersection closed this week to continue work on that end.

The commission also heard from Chamber Vice President Joey May, who opened by presenting a check for $2,500 to the city to help with fireworks for 2019. May then updated the group on changes at the office, including the hiring of new Administrator Sarah Kleopfer, intern Randee Wisdom and Chamber Ambassador Linda Duesing, who had been filling the role of interim Administrator. May also said the Chamber would have new hours — Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

May was approved for several requests by the commission, as well, including setting up an area at the south end of the skate park for Flags for Forgotten Soldiers from June 29 to around 30 days later — an initiative to raise awareness for suicide in veterans, which plants 660 flags in the ground (the number of veterans who commit suicide each month). Also approved was for the Chamber to set up a tent to pass out water, glow in the dark bracelets and provide information near the Fisher Center, with the Community Jazz Band playing nearby as well as Mak’n Faces face painting by Gilberta Bindel. Also approved was the Chamber request to use the city’s Textcaster service to remind residents of upcoming events.

Chamber Ambassador Ryan Meininger also brought requests on behalf of the Chamber, asking for street closures for the Maple Leaf Festival. With the event continuing to expand, Meininger asked to close the entire of the square, including Oregon Street and Utah Streets from 6th to 7th, and 6th and 7th from Utah to Oregon from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 21. The plan will include half intersections on Oregon Street to allow traffic to turn, as well as enough space open on Utah to allow access to the mailbox.

In other business:

❯ The commission received a positive review from the Berberich Trahan & Company on their 2018 audit, and approved a lease agreement with John Deere Financial for a utility tractor, in the amount of $8,650.24, as well as a payment of $335,588.04 for the Citywide Street Sales Tax project.

❯ Katina Vonderschmidt was approved to seek bids for banners for the Hometown Hero project, which will allow production to begin once applications have been received and processed.

❯ The commission also voted to enter into an agreement for GIS software with gWorks at an upfront cost of $87,554.25, with an annual subscription of $12,000. The new software will add functionality and communicate with the City’s current financial software.

❯ The commission approved the Consent Agenda, which included an appropriation of $46,613.46, utility refunds of $542..38, a payment to CMT Engineering for Airport Development Plans of $13,000, a payment to BG Consultants of $1,112.13, a payment to the Morrill Public Library of $46,063.07, payment to Midwest Public Risk of $87,501.73, payment to the Kansas State Treasurer of $58,918.75 and payment to the Brown County Clerk of $5,677.05. Mayor Collins also expressed interest in implementing a Recreation sales tax.

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