Noting it was just a matter of time before Great Bend feels the impact of the burgeoning coronavirus pandemic, City Administrator Kendal Francis Monday night assured the City Council plans are in place to deal with a possible outbreak, from common sense measures to shutting down city facilities to the public.
“We’ve been fairly silent on the situation from the city,” he said. “But, it doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy addressing covid-19.”
He addressed the council a matter of hours after Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly an executive order banning public gatherings of 50 or more people for eight weeks, based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease and Control. He said the city follow these guidelines.
“We will never know if we over reacted,” he said. “However, we will know if we didn’t act enough.”
The goals are to slow the spread of virus, keeping it to less than a 10% infection rate, protection of city staff and operations, and accurate public information.
The city’s action plan falls into two basic parts, the first of which is already in place, Francis said.
Current steps include following CDC and Kansas Department of Health and Environment guidelines and recommendations, and adhering to Kelly’s order.
And, there are the common sense measures,such as social distancing, hand washing, covering coughs, staying home when sick, and enhanced cleaning and sanitizing (including the purchase of building foggers).
The city has also placed a moratorium on staff travel and studying the possibility of working remotely when possible.
In addition, the city has a liaison to coordinate with outside agencies.
Francis said there is also a city COVID-19 Information Help Line. The number is 620-791-5035, and it is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
City website, www.greatbendks.net has public information as well.
“We’re still public servants,” Francis said. “And we’re going to do everything we can to serve the public,” even as this means keeping their distance and taking precautionary actions.
After some discussion, the council unanimously agreed that if there is a confirmed case of the covid-19 respiratory illness within 60 miles of Great Bend, a second tier of protocols would be triggered. These include:
• City Hall closed to public until further notice.
• Building Permits would be handled electronically
• Council meetings would not be affected, for now, although the city is looking at ways to hold via video with full city access and without violating the Kansas Open Meetings Act.
• Front Door closed to walk-in traffic until further notice.
• Utility Payments made only through the drive-up window, drop boxes (City Hall, Front Door and the Dillons store on West 10th) or online. There was some concern about customers who pay in cash, and the safety of those handling the money.
• All meeting room events scheduled within the next 60 days at the Front Door will be canceled. No new bookings before 60 days. Bookings that are cancelled as a result of this will have first opportunity to re-book for a future date.
• Events Center will be closed to the public until further notice.
All events scheduled within the next 60 days will be canceled. No new bookings before 60 days. Bookings that are cancelled as a result of this will have first opportunity to re-book for a future date.
• Brit Spaugh Zoo will close to the public until further notice.
• Wetlands Aquatic Center will be closed until further notice.
Other venues and facilities, such as parks and the Sports Complex, will also be impacted, Francis said. Many of the softball and baseball tournaments planned for the Sports Complex have already been canceled.
Francis noted that this is a very fluid situation. The situation could change and call for more severe action.
And, he noted, facilities could be opened back up as quickly as they are closed, should that be necessary.
Great Bend City Council meeting at a glance
Here is a quick look at what the Great Bend City Council did Monday night:
• Held a discussion on the impact of the coronavirus and the city’s planned response to it.
• Appointed Lindsey Krom-Craven to fill the vacant Ward 1 City Council seat. City Clerk/Finance Director Shawna Schafer administered the oath of office.
She replaces Jessica Milsap who resigned to take the job as president of Great Bend Economic Development Inc.
• Authorized Mayor Cody Schmidt to sign an agreement with Evans, Bierly, Hutchison and Associates Consulting Engineers of Great Bend for the engineering of the Sunflower Rod and Custom Association dragstrip for $51,000.
EBH proposed an agreement to provide both Design Services (to include survey, field checks, work drawings, specifications and bid letting) as well as construction services (which in part includes construction inspections), said EBH’s Joel Krosschell. The design portion is for $22,000 and the construction portion is a not to exceed $29,000, for a total project cost of $51,000.
• Approve partnering with Barton County for the KDOT Cost-share Program for an equal cost share not to exceed $120,000 for the mill and overlay of Airport Road (SW 40 Avenue).
In October 2019, Barton County Commission applied to use the Cost-share Program for the project, City Administrator Kendal Francis said. As at least half the road lies inside of the city limits, they requested the City split the cost of the local match.
The City Council approved he partnering with the county on the application last year, however their project was not funded.
Now, the second round of applications are open and the Airport Road project remains in the project pool for this spring, Francis said.
Barton County Engineer Barry McManaman estimates construction costs to be approximately $865,000. A 25% local match would equal $216,250. An equal cost share would equate to $108,125 apiece for construction.
In addition, a rough estimate for design fees would be around $20,000 depending on what KDOT requires. That would be an additional $10,000 apiece for that cost, meaning the potential amount for each party would be just shy of $120,000.
The actual final cost would of course be dependent on the bids received, Francis said.
• Approved the purchase of a brine maker and spreader unit from Varitech Industries of Alexandria, Minn., for $40,656.03.
The Street Department’s long-term goal has been to acquire the ability to pre-treat city streets with salt brine in advance of winter storm events, said Street Superintendent James Giles. Brining saves manpower, and equipment wear and tear as salt brine will melt up to two inches of snow fall.
Therefore, crews will not need to respond until three or more of actual snow fall has occurred, Giles said. The recent purchase of the used dump truck provided substantial savings which in turn makes funds available to purchase the brining equipment.
Staff requested bids for the brine equipment. Varitech Industries is the industry leader for this equipment and provided the lowest bid. This includes the loader adapter which is necessary to allow staff to to load and unload the unit from the truck, Giles said.
• Approved the purchase of two mosquito foggers from Clarke, Roselle, Ill., for $25,691.60.
Public Works performs an annual fogging program to help control the mosquito population. Currently, the city has two old units, Street Superintendent James Giles said. One is a 2002 model that was purchased used from the City of Ellinwood and the other is two older units (1978 and 1992 models) that have been combined to make one workable unit.
Giles said both are obsolete, very unreliable and need replaced. Staff received price quotes for the desired units equipped with Smart Flow technology that provides auto-calibration for more accurate chemical disbursement as well as records all spray statistics which we are required by law to report and maintain. Clarke provided the lowest and best bid for two units at $25,691.60.
Funds are available from the savings realized by the purchase of the used dump truck.
• Approved revised building code ordinances. The City of Great Bend is currently on the 2006 International Code Council codes, 2006 Uniform Mechanical Codes, 2006 Uniform Plumbing Codes and 2005 National Electrical Codes, Building Inspector Logan Burns said. In order to keep up with updated codes and construction standards, the Great Bend Fire Department and Building Inspection Department proposed adopting the 2018 ICCs, UMCs, and UPCs, and 2017 NECs.
Burns said they held a joint meeting with the Building Board and the Board of Construction, Trades, Examiners, and Appeals, and the proposed code adoption passed unanimously.
• Approved a requested resolution for unlicensed businesses to serve complimentary alcohol on their premises for the Art and Wine Walk event held from 4-7 p.m. Thursday, May 7. The request was made by Community Coordinator Christina Hayes.
• Approved a cereal-malt beverage license for Tosha Tanner with the Corner Market at 2337 Washington St. They are taking over the Presto Convenience Store.