Hoisington City Manager Jonathan Mitchell, in his letter to the city council which accompanied the agenda for Monday night’s meeting, offered these thoughts on the community’s response to the tragic death of Iviana Lewis last week:
“The past week has been a challenging one for our community. In times of tragedy, you can see the true character of a community. I am proud of how our community has come together and worked collectively toward a common goal.
When a young child went missing, our community responded. We found the child and have begun the process of healing. This healing will not take place overnight but many steps have been taken that were necessary to start the process.
“I am proud of how our first responders, residents and regional partners came together during this process. Everyone involved with the investigation should be commended for their response. Without the help of so many partners, we would not have found the child and we would not have found the person responsible for this tragedy. Thank you for your support and encouragement during this difficult time. We are blessed to have an incredible group of first responders here.
“Every member of our local law enforcement community played a significant role in this process. The Hoisington Police Department worked closely with the Barton County Sheriff’s Office, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Hoisington Fire Department and Hoisington EMS to search for the missing child and find the perpetrator. Countless residents and agencies shared their time and talents during the process.
“This event is difficult to process and is something that you never expect to happen in Hoisington. Without the commitment and dedication of so many, Iviana may have never been found and a suspect may still be at large.
“Throughout this process, parents were reminded to hold their children close and treasure their families. We are all mourning the loss of a young life but perhaps we will gain a renewed appreciation for the lives around us. Please take a moment today and tell someone how much you appreciate them.”
HOISINGTON — Hoisington Mayor Dalton Popp brought the Monday night city council meeting Monday night to order, following a brief opportunity for council members to examine a prototype for new metal art displays that the city’s power plant staff have been developing. It’s one way the city is helping the Hoisington Main Street organization to solve the problem of how to better protect the city’s iconic metal art currently displayed on utility poles along Main Street. A request from that organization for $5,000 from the Transient Guest Tax fund to go toward the project was part of the consent agenda which was approved.
During the time for patrons’ comments, where the public is given a chance to address the council on items not included in the agenda, Councilman Jim Morris commented on commodities distribution at the Masonic Lodge. Monday was the first time in many years that Hoisington residents who qualify could pick up their package of food items in Hoisington, instead of having to drive to Great Bend, Morris said. However, only four people came to the Masonic Lodge that day to collect, leading organizers to believe more needs to be done to get the word out. They also decided to offer the distribution on Tuesday to give others in need a chance. Morris explained that qualification is income-based, and seniors on fixed incomes are encouraged to sign up. The food has been provided on a nearly quarterly basis in recent months, he said. Now that distribution is provided locally, people residing in Hoisington can no longer pick up their package in Great Bend, so he asked for their help in getting the word out.
Barney Kruse, Superintendent of the Hoisington Electrical Generation Plant, has been involved with keeping the lights on in Hoisington for close to 15 years, City Manager Jonathan Mitchell told council members Monday night.
As one of his final projects, he has been working with his staff to prepare for the emissions tests the city must conduct every five years. These took place last week. His work has earned him the goodwill of members of the city’s power pool, who came to Hoisington last Thursday to wish him well in his upcoming retirement at the end of the month.
The Hoisington City Council and Mayor Dalton Popp also recognized his years of service to the community. Awarding him a plaque and.
Major premium drop
For many years, the City of Hoisington has purchased comprehensive liability and loss protection from EMC through Alliance Insurance of Great Bend. But, this year the Kansas Farm Service Agency of Hutchinson approached the city, and provided a bid from Midwest Public Risk of Missouri. Mitchell said both policies offered similar protection, for around $150,000, but the Kansas Farm Service Agency protection included an equipment breakdown policy. When this was taken out of the bid, that dropped their bid to $95,560. Mitchell went back to Alliance. The firm resubmitted EMC’s bid at $115,762. It was noted that EMC typically has provided the city an annual rebate of nearly $20,000 since few claims have been made. After careful consideration by the staff, they recommended the city stay with EMC and Alliance, because it was a known product and they already had an established relationship with it’s representatives. The council approved the EMC bid unanimously.
City Manager’s report
City Manager Jonathan Mitchell, in presenting his usual report, took a moment to talk about the recent tragedy the city experienced last week, when two-year-old Iviona Lewis was reported missing, her body recovered, and the perpetrator arrested. Mitchell commended Chief Kenton Doze, who shared that outside agencies, including the KBI an the FBI, who took part in the search felt the people of Hoisington did a good job and things went well.
“I don’t think we missed too many things,” he said. “It just didn’t have the outcome we wanted,” he said.
Mitchell expressed his pride in the performance of all levels of first responders, the community and volunteers in bringing it to a conclusion.
Other updates of ongoing projects included notice that the Barton County Commission has agreed to hold a hearing on the proposed fire district on May 14, and the required notices to the public would be in upcoming news publications; the new sign at the Hoisington Cemetery would be going within the week; a hearing has been set for the replatting of McKenna Meadows, and two families are ready to begin building as soon as June; the city has been approached by a company that sites communications poles, and the city is considering where one could be placed in the city and the financial gains that could be realized.
Mitchell also updated the council on progress made with contractors last week in consideration of ways to improve walkability in the city and pay for improvements with a $100,000 grant offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield and Clara Barton Hospital. The project could include new sidewalks along K-4 from Main Street east to the Town and Country Grocery store, and west to the Hoisington Walking trail, as well as signalized crossings in a few locations for those needing to cross the highway. The city would need to provide some sort of match, he added, which could come from a $5,000 gift from Be Well Barton County that could be spent on bicycling signs, and from the city’s proposed purchase of traffic calming devices.
Updates on the pool, the water softening project, participation in an upcoming E-community opportunity, were also provided.
Finally, he invited members to meet prior to the April 9 meeting at 6 p.m. to visit the current lagoon south of town and hear a presentation with an engineer who is working on a proposal for the project. This meeting is open to the public, he added.
Two executive sessions were requested for personnel matters. Each lasted 10 minutes and was for the discussion of an individual employee’s performance. Upon return to regular session, no action was taken.