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Council gives nod to new employee handbook
Revisions cover wide range of city policies
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After tabling the matter two weeks ago, the Great Bend City Council Monday night approved a revised City of Great Bend Employee Handbook. The current handbook dates back to 2015.

“The revision touches almost every policy in some way; some changes were small, and some changes amounted to a complete re-write of a policy,” Human Resource Director Randy Keasling said. He and other city officials have spent that past year reviewing the policies and making the changes needed to bring the handbook up to date. 

Legal counsel from The Kansas League of Municipalities has reviewed the draft and made recommendations and changes as well, he said. 

This was presented to council on Oct. 7, and a motion was made to table until the Oct. 21 meeting to allow the council more time to review the handbook and changes.

Among the revisions, the city’s vesting schedule changed from six years to five, aligning with Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. Also, one dealt with doctor releases for employees wanting to return to work after a non-work related injury, and another tied the approval of extended periods of time off to Family Medical Leave Act events.

Keasling said copies of the new handbook will be distributed to employees next week. Signed signature pages must be turned in by Nov. 8.

Councilman Brock McPherson asked if employees had seen the new guidelines, and wondered if they should sign off on the changes first. “I don’t think the employees know what’s in it.”

But, council members Jolene Biggs and Cory Urban both said the matter is up to the council to decide. Besides, all departments heads have seen the document and offered input.

And, “we are more than willing to have discussions with staff,” Keasling said. Members of the city administrative team is willing to answer questions as needed.

But, the process is already in its second year. Going to each of the city’s 157 full-time employees would draw this out even longer.

Voting for the measure along with Biggs and Urban were council members Dan Heath, Dana Dawson, Jessica Milsap and Andrew Erb. McPherson was the lone no vote.

Wiley resigns and public works director

Great Bend City Council meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Great Bend City Council did Monday night:

• Following a 20-minute executive session, accepted the immediate resignation of Public Works Director Simon Wiley.

• Mayor Joe Andrasek named council members Jessica Milsap, Dana Dawson and Cory Urban to an ad hoc committee to review applications for the Great Bend Economic Development Inc. board.

• Approved a revised City of Great Bend Employee Handbook. The current Employee Handbook was approved by Council in December of 2015.

• Tabled action on vacating the east half of an alleyway between Harrison and Tyler. The First Southern Baptist Church had sought the vacation.  

The church wanted to close off portions of the alley  to construct a parking lot and provide better access to its buildings for safety reasons.

However, there were concerns from some landowners on the block about limiting access to their properties. Church officials suggested tabling the issue, noting they would meet with the other owners and reach a compromise.

• Approved a rezoning request from Wheatland Electric. Wheatland owns the 15 acres at 10th and Kiowa Road and asked it be rezoned from residential to light manufacturing.  

This would allow Wheatland to close on the purchase of the real estate, City Attorney Bob Suelter said. Once closed, Wheatland would build an office building, storage facilities and a storage (lay down) yard on the real estate. 

The company would then re-locate its offices to that location, including bill paying and the establishing of electrical hook-ups. The former location at Broadway and Morton would house Sunflower Electric employees. 

The storage facility at Second and Main would be used by Sunflower to store equipment and supplies for its operation. 

The Planning Commission heard the matter on Sept. 30, and recommended approval, City Attorney Robert Suelter said.

Wheatland is a cooperative and a member of the Sunflower cooperative.

• Adopted ordinances allowing propane storage tanks to be located in Commercial-2 zone at the request of Water’s Realty (True Value Hardware at 1649 West K-96).

Waters Realty asked propane storage tanks up to 1,000 gallons be allowed in a C-2 Zone. The City Staff has recommended approval of the request, City Attorney Bob Suelter said. 

The Planning Commission has also recommended approval of the ordinance modifying the zoning ordinance. 

In order to carry out this recommendation, the had to adopt two related ordinances. One amends the city’s zoning ordinance, and the second allows the fire chief to approve the placement of said tanks provided they meet required standards

The council also approved a conditional-use permit allowing Waters Realty to locate the tanks at the southeast corner of the property.

The company’s store in Salina has a similar set up, company officials said. The council was assured all regulations established by the Kansas Fire Marshal’s Office would be followed and the propane would only be dispensed by licensed personnel.

A C-2 zone is for general commercial district designed for general retail and service commercial land uses. The city also has zones C-1 (local commercial district – designed for retail and service commercial land uses which have a minimum impact upon adjacent land uses) and C-3 (central business district – designed for downtown office, retail and service commercial land uses). 

• Heard a report from Community Coordinator Christina Hayes via a pre-recorded video since she was attending the state tourism convention. She focused on the upcoming Explore Great Bend and holiday activities.

• Approved abatements at: 1318 Frey, 308 Fruit, 115 Becker Court, 1408 12th, all for motor vehicle nuisance; and 1036 Jefferson for accumulation of refuse.

• Approved a one-day cereal malt beverage license at the request of Tim Jacobs for a concert being held at the Great Bend Events Center on Nov. 9.