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Hoisington swears in new mayor, council member
A new slate of Hoisington City Council members and a new mayor were sworn in Monday night at the first city council meeting of the new year. Hoisington City Clerk Donita Crutcher led the group through their oath of office at the beginning of the meeting. Pictured from left to right are Becky Steinert, Ward 1, Mayor Dalton Popp, Jim Morris, Ward 3, Chris Smith, Ward 4, and Michael Aylward, Ward 2. Aylward was elected to serve as 2018 Council President at the meeting. - photo by VERONICA COONS, Great Bend Tribune

Here’s a quick look at what happened at the Hoisington City Council meeting Monday night:

* Approved the consent agenda which included approval of minutes from the Dec. 26, 2017 meeting, recognition of Mayor Williamson and Council Member Donovan for service to the community, designation of First Kansas Bank, Wilson State Bank and Landmark National Bank as official depositories of the city, designation of the Hoisington Dispatch s the official newspaper of the city.

* Officially reorganized the Governing Body. Michael Aylward was appointed president.  Karen Van Brimmer announced she will be stepping down in February.  She will be moving out of Ward 3.  A new representative from that Ward will need to be appointed.  

* Introduced the new Executive Vice President of the Hoisington Chamber of Commerce, Karen Baldyga.

* Approved a request from Terry Nech, Hoisington, for $1,500 from the transient guest tax  fund to drill a well to ensure the kids fishing pond at the South Hoisington Nature Area maintains a consistent water level.

* Heard a report from City Manager Jonathan Mitchell.  

HOISINGTON — A new mayor and council member, along with re-elected council members, were sworn in by Hoisington City Clerk Donita Crutcher at the start of the city council meeting Monday night. This was followed by an official passing of the gavel from outgoing Mayor Clayton Williamson to newly elected Mayor Dalton Popp. Williamson was recognized for 15 years of service to the city. Councilman Gerald Donovan, Ward 1, was also recognized for his service to the city, which began in 2009. Becky Steiner, a write-in candidate, was elected and agreed to fill his chair.
The first order of business was to reorganize the leadership of the council. Ward 3 Councilwoman Karen Van Brimmer, president of the council for 2017, announced she will be vacating her seat in February following the sale of her home and her anticipated move to a different ward within the city. She nominated Michael Aylward for president of the council, and Chris Smith, Ward 4, seconded the nomination. Aylward accepted the nomination and the council was unanimous in its approval.
Van Brimmer was to serve through 2018, and a new council member will be sought and appointed from Ward 3. She anticipates closing on the sale of her home Feb. 12, so will be able to serve until then.
Another new face was introduced to the council by Scott Fleming, who will serve as the president of the Hoisington Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for 2018. Karen Baldyga fills the position vacated by Jessica Homolka, who resigned in October following a move from the area.
Aylward welcomed her on behalf of the council, adding, “Once you get through your first Labor Day, it will be a piece of cake.”
The council heard a report from Terry Nech concerning developments at South Hoisington concerning the kids fishing pond and potential inclusion of the area in the Wetlands and Wildlife National Scenic Byway (See related story).
City Manager Jonathan Mitchell reported that another delay in the installation of the city’s water softening system will push back the date residents can enjoy soft water by another couple of weeks. Specialized bolts required for the project were not included when the system was shipped, and installation will need to wait until the bolts are received. Delivery is anticipated by the end of January. Mitchell expressed frustration over the delay.
After looking deeper into the issue of improving the city’s Insurance Service Office risk rating, it is now clear the city will need to adopt the latest building codes in order to lower its rating from a 9 back to a 7, he said. Ratings range from 10 to 1, with 1 being the best.
“Other communities similar to ours have been resistant to upgrading their codes, and they are now considering upgrading to 2018 instead of 2015,” Mitchell said. He asked the council to consider what it wishes to do, as ISO needs to know if it will implement the 9 rating, or work with the city over the next year as it implements new codes. “There is a year to adopt, implement and train.”
Council members asked what the consequences of not acting would be. Updating the codes will require expenditures on new manuals and extensive training for city personnel involved in enforcing building codes. Mitchell said he has been informed if the rating is increased to 9, it could mean higher insurance rates for residents, but there is no way to tell what kind of increase that would ultimately be. Also, the only way to get the lower rating is to update the code.
“To go lower than a 7, a lot more staff is needed. Seven is probably the best we’re going to do,” he said. “More modern building codes mean a safer building, and that’s a big reason to do this. But no one can really say how much insurance rates will be affected if we adopt the new codes or not.”
Mitchell said when he reached out to contractors, he did not find resistance to adopting the codes. Across the board, he learned hey already operate in cities larger and smaller, and they work to the codes those cities rely on.
Finally, he reported that the city will meet with the City of Olmitz this month to present information about the fire district, and that it may grow as a result to include that city in addition to Hoisington and Susank. This is good, he said, because it would ensure the townships would remain part of the district. Fire chiefs, upon consideration, and seeing the district as a positive development.