The Hiawatha City Commission met on Monday night, and were joined by members of the Mount Zion Rustler’s 4-H Club, who were present to witness a proclamation declaring Oct. 6-12 as National 4-H Week. City Clerk Tish Sims read the proclamation, which will be signed by Mayor Bill Collins.

Jerry Gifford was present with a request for assistance in fixing a damaged alley behind an owned property. Mayor Collins reiterated what the commission’s stance has been on alleys — that the city maintains roadways, while alleys are left to citizens to maintain and repair.

The commission also approved bids on several projects, including the Hometown Heroes banners, with Rileighs Outdoor Décor winning the bid. Also approved was a bid of $182.99 per acre for the city’s farm ground lease, while a bid of $8,726 from Knapheid Truck Equipment was awarded for a v-plow snowplow. The commission also voted to approve a proposal for Substantial Completion of several sections of the Citywide Sales Tax Street Project and to decommission a police department computer.

Hiawatha Hospital CEO John Broberg was on hand to give a monthly update, noting that volume continues to be up from the previous year, with expenses down, which leaves the hospital at a 1 percent operating loss — down from 3 percent last year. Broberg did note that the hospital is still operating in the red, and also mentioned concerns over provider recruitment, and equipment needs — specifically mentioning that 2019 has seen a higher-than-normal rate of equipment failure. With that, Broberg spoke on the November sales tax vote, imploring voters to turn out to vote in favor of the tax, which estimates to a roughly $50 per year increase to what a person working an average salary would pay annually.

Wastewater Superintendent Dave Grimm brought to the commission’s attention a sewer problem near Quivira Court and said the work would need to be done soon. Mayor Collins urged Grimm to rent equipment and for city employees to complete the work rather than contractors.

Parks and Recreation Director Stacy Jasper was also present and requested to hire an instructor for a men’s fitness class that she is planning. Jasper’s proposed hire is Brianna Schmitz, who would teach for six to eight hours per week. Jasper also gave a brief summary of recent and upcoming events, with Pumpkin Palooza and the Great Pumpkin 5K Relay coming up next weekend.

In other business, the Commission approved the Consent Agenda, which included a $45,039.42 appropriation, a payment to Morrill Public Library of $11,435.62, a payment to Midwest Ready Mix for $1,309.00, a payment to Suez Utility Service Co. for $10,697.10, a payment to BG Consultants for $1,168.29, a payment to the Kansas Department of Labor for $87.18 and a payment to the Kansas Department of Revenue of $1,525.18.

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