The Hiawatha City Commission met on Monday evening and heard from City Attorney Andy Delaney and City Administrator Mike Nichols about the issue of the un-appointed City Fire Chief.

The commission failed to make a motion to appoint Ryan Shockley to the position at a previous meeting, leaving Gene Atland in the interim role until an official appointment was made. Nichols said that in 2016 a change to code was made moving the maximum distance from city limits allowed for an appointed position from 2 miles to 5 to accommodate the potential of bringing Shockley on, but that he has recently learned that due to Kansas Statue 14-1502, that change should never have been allowed. Nichols apologized for the oversight, but stated that the legislation makes it clear that no one outside of 2 miles beyond the city limits may be appointed to a city position. Delaney suggested that the commission take a vote at the next meeting to officially fill the position.

In other business:

The commission also approved a request from Delaney to officially re-open City Municipal Court starting Tuesday, June 2. Delaney informed the Commission that the City Judge had signed off on holding court and a docket had been put together for the day.

Mary Ananzeh was present at the meeting and gave a brief update on progress at the Hiawatha Inn.

The commission heard from Police Chief John Defore and voted to accept a bid from Kustom Radar. Defore was also approved to de-commission the current radars and give them to the Doniphan County Sheriff’s office, as they use the same units and like Hiawatha, are currently unable to purchase parts when repairs are needed. Defore was also approved to solicit applications for a police officer position, as Officer Fee has decided to leave the department to pursue other career opportunities. Also approved for the Police Department was a request to begin demolition on the break room and records storage rooms and solicit bids for renovations, which will allow the department greater ability to store records that must remain in a locked room, and a request to seek opinions from contractors on the state of the department’s roof.

Defore also announced that the National Night Out will be canceled this year, as the only reschedule date is the evening of court, but noted that he plans to bring the activity back bigger and better next year.

Parks and Recreation Director Stacy Jasper presented a request on behalf of the HHS Junior After-Prom committee, which was approved by the Commission, to close Utah Street between 6th and 7th Streets on June 26 for a Prom walk. The event will allow students to park their cars, walk along the courthouse for pictures and to pick up After-Prom prizes.

Jasper also discussed with the commission her plan to leave the Fisher Center closed to the public accept by appointment until at least the next commission meeting on June 15. Individuals may contact the Fisher Center offices with any requests for gym use during the interim.

City Clerk Tish Sims addressed re-opening City Hall, and noted that precautions are being taken but that she would like to continue being open by appointment only for the time being. Sims also brought forward the idea of hardship applications for late utility bills. The commission agreed to the plan.

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