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Debbie Stevens Week proclaimed
Patrons unhappy with cemetery maintenance, lack of respect
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Hoisington Mayor Clayton Williams proclaimed June 25 - July 1 to be Debbie Stevens Week at the city council meeting Monday night. Stevens was commended for her work with Hoisington children through her organization, GPS Kids Club. Pictured in the background are councilman Robert Bruce and City Manager Jonathan Mitchell. - photo by Veronica Coons, Tribune staff

HOISINGTON — The tour of the utility billing office on the agenda for Monday night’s Hoisington City Council meeting was canceled to make time for a last-minute agenda item. Mayor Clayton Williams had a proclamation to make, honoring Hoisington citizen Debbie Stevens, who two years ago created GPS Kids Club, and has a long history of caring for and about Hoisington’s children.
“She’s very active, and has an army of young people helping her out this summer,” he said. “There are all kinds of things she is making sure these young people are exposed to, so the mayor and city staff got together and felt it would be appropriate to honor her contributions to our community.”
Stevens created GPS Kids Club and purchased the old church it is housed in from the county. She provides snacks and activities to keep children busy after school and throughout the day in the summer. She assembled a group of 47 kids to clean up the cemetery prior to Memorial Day and later returned with 22 kids to help install flags at the cemetery for the ceremony. For these reasons, according to the mayoral proclamation, June 25 through July 1 has been declared as Debbie Stevens Week in the City of Hoisington.
Stevens has more planned for the GPS Kids. Tuesday morning, June 13, they would be planting a tree in the park, Mitchell said.

Cemetery concerns
Council member Carol Nather shared feedback she’d received from people in her district concerning the lack of care being demonstrated by the people tasked with cemetery maintenance. They are unhappy with the excessive amount of overkill they are seeing around the stones, and the way headstones are being mown over. Many survivors have complained to her they feel offended and that the memory of their loved ones is not being respected.
Councilman Michael Aylward said he had heard similar complaints.
City Manager Jonathan Mitchell said the city had started spraying around headstones in an attempt to prevent damage, and that it was not an uncommon thing. But Aylward said the problem was the amount of overkill, that a little close to the stone was acceptable, but that wide swaths of it was not. The point being made, no action was requested.

City manager’s report
Mitchell provided the city manager’s report, noting that the city is only 300 surveys short of those required to take the next step toward securing a Community Development Block Grant to help fund a needed city sewer project. Also, each of the McKenna Meadows lots eligible for the Median Income Housing grants will be spoken for by the end of the week. One family is waiting for bank approval, and another is waiting to learn, as a result of that decision, what lot they will build on. Another family has also expressed interest.
Several other projects continue to move forward, including the transfer of city property to Rotomix.
The council, city attorney and city manager met in executive session for 5 minutes to discuss confidential matters related to non-elected personnel. No action was taken following the resumption of the regular meeting. The council will meet next at 7 p.m., Monday, June 26 at the Hoisington Municipal Complex.

Other items of discussion and actions taken included:
• Accepted the 2016 Audit Report - Craig Dassow from Clubine and Rettele.
• Teresa Owen Bruce invited the council to attend the benefit car show being held on Saturday, June 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hoisington Activity Center. It is a fundraiser for her Barton County Walk to End Alzheimer’s team.
• Discussed a request from Nick Lomas to lease a parcel of city-owned land. Lomas wants to provide a practice track for his son to prepare for flat-track racing. The council approved his request providing he collects a letter of support from neighbors and proof of insurance and proof the city would not be held liable.
• Mitchell reported the installation of the city’s new water softening system has been set back to Sept. 9, due to several repairs needed at the building where it will be housed.
• Reviewed a list of council priorities for 2018. Members had no changes to make, so Mitchell was advised to move forward with preparations for the council to formally set the priorities at an upcoming meeting.
• Mitchell reported one Hoisington police officer resigned earlier this month, and the full-time position has been filled by part-time officer Chelsey Hackmeister.
• The city’s utility billing office remodel completion date has been moved back due to a contractor delay. It is nearing completion.
• Heard from patrons concerning fireworks. (See related story.)