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Ellinwood moving ahead with community improvements
Wayfinding signs, brick uses, and mayoral power discussed
Ellinwood city offices
Ellinwood city offices. - photo by Tribune file photo

Here’s a quick look at what happened at the Ellinwood City Council meeting Monday night:
• Approve Bid Specs for the driveway entrance bridge for Corey Long at 1170 E Barton County Rd. The bridge is part of the city’s flood control project. Bids will be accepted by the city until 2 p.m. July 10, prior to next council meeting. Staff will review the bids and make a recommendation that night.
• Approved moving forward with a Proposal from Rob Dove to install wayfinding signs throughout the community at an estimated cost of $3,826.96.
• Discussed possible uses for the bricks removed during the recent Ellinwood street project that are being stockpiled by the city in case they are needed for repairs on existing brick streets. Council tabled the discussion pending further research.
• Discussed city-owned lot at 507 E 2nd. The property is zoned commercial, but because of an underground storm sewer, it is not a buildable lot. Komarek suggested the city consider dividing the lot in two and allowing it to be deeded to the adjacent property owners on either side, something both parties were approached about and willing to consider. It was agreed the property should be surveyed before a final decision is made.
• Reviewed the roles and responsibilities of the mayor.
• Approved the purchase of a new copier for the city office. Office Products Inc., Great Bend, will sell the city a Cannon Runner Advance C5535i copier for $8,470. In addition, the company will trade out the city’s old copier for a newer model that will be used by the police, fire and EMS departments.
• A 10-minute executive session was requested for the discussion of issues pertaining to non-elected personnel. The session began at 8:15 p.m. and at 8:25 p.m., the council returned to regular session and no action was taken.
• Komarek presented the city manager’s report, which included information on ongoing city projects including progress on the water main project, mowing, tree planting, weed spraying , concrete work around the power plant.
• Approved the appointment of Chance Bailey to the position of Police Chief.

ELLINWOOD — The city council meeting held Monday night included several meaningful discussion that showed progress towards transformation into a 21st century visitor-friendly community.
During the time allotted for comments from the public, one community member referred to a recent letter from the city included in a utility billing outlining several do’s and don’ts related to properties. He wanted to know if the city had a plan to ensure residents were accountable for complying with items on the list. To this, Chris Komarek, Ellinwood’s city manager replied the city staff have been instructed to report any complaints immediately to the police who will approach residents about compliance. He added the monitoring will be a high priority and the city will be stepping up efforts to improve compliance. This was satisfactory to the patron and others at the meeting.
Another community member, George Martin, returned to follow up on his inquiry in May about what is being done about the blighted property adjacent to his. Komarek replied the city has made contact with the family in charge of the estate, and expects to know what direction the city will need to go in within the next two weeks. Martin also noted that someone had mowed the lawn of the offending property, and expressed appreciation for the effort.

Council agrees wayfinding signs ‘make sense’
Ellinwood community member Rob Dove was part of a task force assigned to a 2016 community exchange with Cimarron. Both communities sent a delegation from their community to the other in order to gather impressions and suggestions for improvements that would make their cities more visitor friendly. The Cimarron delegation determined it would be difficult for visitors to discern what attractions or features the city contained, or how to get to key locations. Dove agreed to research appropriate signage and his presentation was the culmination of those efforts.
Dove visited communities from Barton County to Columbia, Mo. It was his conclusion that the style of Great Bend’s wayfinding signs were the best, and recommended Ellinwood go with a similar option for a series of signs designating where the parks, the Splash Pad and pool, cemetery, and other city buildings were located. He found sign companies online that could produce aluminum signs that would include “City of Ellinwood” at the top, along with the wheat shock image, and a directional for each feature. These signs could be attached to posts in key locations, which could be added to or subtracted from as needed in coming years. .
Dove also provided a cost estimate of $3,826.96, and noted that he was aware of an available $1,000 that could be accessed for the project, leaving the remainder for the city to provide. Following his presentation, council member Jon Prescott was prepared to move forward with the project, saying that it made sense. Council member Alan Brauer added that he liked the idea of uniform signs, and asked if the Ellinwood Chamber had been given any input, which Dove confirmed it had.
Komarek said he had earlier visited with KDOT, and depending on where the signs would be located, they would likely be approved. He added the project would likely qualify for funds from the Ellinwood Foundation and the city’s economic development fund. With that, Prescott’s motion was seconded and approved.

Brick use considered
More bricks have been collected following the replacement of a few blocks of city streets with concrete pavement than were originally anticipated. This has led some community members to reach out to City Manager Chris Komarek requesting bricks for patio or walkway projects at their personal residences. He asked the council if they would be willing to let some of the bricks go. While he and Fullbright were of the opinion this would be acceptable for Ellinwood residents by request, Prescott pointed out the bricks had a street value worth considering. He noted that there is a market for antique bricks, with at least one company cutting them into 1/2-inch thicknesses used to cover cement sidewalks and patios, and selling them for around $8 per square foot.
The discussion led to suggestions that some agreements and limits should apply if the city were to give the brick to residents, while others suggested the bricks be sold to raise funds for other city beautification projects. It was agreed further research to determine the best options was needed, and the discussion was tabled until a future meeting.

Mayoral powers discussed
The issue of what the actual roles and responsibilities of the mayrr include was raised by Prescott following comments he’d heard that indicated there are those in the community that did not understand the extent of power the mayor had concerning various functions of the city.
“It just worried me when I heard some people have gotten frustrated and started bragging about what they would do if they became mayor,” Prescott said. “That’s the wrong attitude.”
It prompted him to inquire further, and brought it to the council for discussion.
The power to hire or fire was the main concern. Primarily, according to the League of Municipalities governing body handbook, the mayor is not the employment officer of the city. It was confirmed the mayor does not have the sole power to hire or fire department heads, but does so with the approval of the city council. Also, the mayor cannot terminate a department head until the end of their appointed term without cause, this according to the Attorney General.
But there were some concerns over the powers to suspend. The discussion, however, was tabled at that point.