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Pawnee Rock hears fire department needs, seeks to electrify the Rock
nnew vlc image for Pawnee rock story
Violinist Allison Boyt will perform a concert with string ensemble at the pavilion on Pawnee Rock over Labor Day weekend, thanks to the work of one of Pawnee Rocks newest residents. A committee has been formed to identify improvements the city would like to see made to the park. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Other items of discussion and actions taken at the Pawnee Rock City Council meeting included:

     Discussed proposal from John Henderson concerning future hourly and project billing.  Henderson’s contract is up for renewal, and he currently maintains the city’s website and fills in for the City Clerk as needed.  
    Approved a request by Marla “Twink” Johnson to shut off Santa Fe Street from Rock Street to the alley on July 4 from noon to midnight for lighting fireworks. The approval comes with two contingencies:  Johnson is responsible for clean up and there is no burn ban in effect and fireworks are authorized in the county.  
    Determined the city has no known damage from recent rains.  Amy Miller, Barton County Director of Emergency Management, requested notice in order to determine possible grants needed.   
    Approved Maintenance Director Shane to attend a free training session in Lyons July 8 on building stewardship and excellence in small water systems.  He will provide his own transportation and will receive reimbursement for mileage and a per diem for lunch.
    Discussed need to move forward with cleanup on several properties in town for which owners of record have not responded to the order of the Municipal Court.     The council approved hiring part-time summer help by the Maintenance Department to complete the work.  
    Tabled further discussion on landscaping changes at the city offices.  With the heavy rains of the past few weeks, the bushes are showing growth.  The topic will be revisited in the fall.
    Examined options for new city letterhead.

Monday night, Pawnee Rock’s City Council met and received a clear picture of the status of the fire department, along with many helpful suggestions from its new fire chief.  A proposal, presented by new resident Basil Dannebohm, also provided a vision for how the city could put its greatest attraction to use.  While it became clear the city has many needs, changes made over few years are beginning to build momentum.  

Council President Deb Bader reported that Randy’s Auto Repair in LaCrosse is ready to accept the city’s new firetruck at any time.  She will meet with him and with Pawnee Rock Fire Chief Heath Tuesday to finalize the schedule for phase one of the switchover.  Some supplemental work may need to be done, and the council authorized Bader to approve up to $1,000 in additional work.  
Following the initial work on the truck, the city will have a new tank installed on the truck.  One has been located in Garden City, and the council approved purchasing the tank for $1,199 and delivery for $250.  The council approved a bid from Aarons Repair for the labor involved in installing the tank.  

Fire Department update
Newly installed Pawnee Rock Fire Chief Heath Dil presented his first report to the council.  He described a department in desperate need of updating and attention.  Heavy rains over the past month produced no fires, giving the new chief an opportunity to meet with firefighters, conduct a full inventory, and organize and assess equipment.  He discovered the bunker gloves were in unacceptable condition and removed them from the gear.  Until new ones arrive, the department will be limited to distance attacks, Dil said.  These and other equipment are available at no charge to the city through the Excess Fire Equipment Program.  A new generator is one item Dil found and has asked for.  The generator could provide emergency power to both the fire department and the city offices.  He will coordinate with the Maintenance Department when it arrives, he said.
Automatic garage door openers and third-party basic vehicle maintenance contracts are among items Dil has identified as needs for the department, and promised to supply quotes for these items at the next meeting.   He noted that after checking oil and fluids in the fire department vehicles, some were low on oil while others had too much and needed to be adjusted.
He also reported the fire station was in immediate need of a flammable storage cabinet.  Things like gas cans for powering on-site generators should be stored in such a cabinet according to OSHA requirements, he said.  The council approved a purchase of one such cabinet from Global for $296.  
In addition, the council approved the purchase of a new laptop computer for the department, which will come from the department’s own budget.  The current laptop is not capable of running the new programs used by the similar stations throughout the state.  The new laptop, an Acer Aspire model, will cost the department $250.  
Dil has also consulted with Great Bend Fire Chief Mike Napolitano concerning fire department grants, and has identified a list of potential grants he will apply for.  One would provide free fire alarms for residents of the city.  There are also grants available for training and equipment, both of which the department is in need of, Dil said.  He will work on these and present them at the next meeting.
Mayor Linda McCowan praised Dil for his efforts so far, and reminded him to consider local sources for purchases and remain open to help from the community whenever possible.  
Dil would like to increase volunteer fire fighter meetings to twice monthly, which would allow more flexibility for those who can’t make a meeting for one reason or another.  This proposal was met with approval from the council.  Council members also suggested the fire department offer to host a Second Saturday coffee and donuts from time to time.  
Power to the Rock
Basil Dannebohm, introduced to the council at the May meeting as Pawnee Rock’s newest resident, returned with a proposal.  First, he clarified that has retired, and has no desire to “upset the apple cart or step on toes.”  
As part of his latest philanthropic project, he has arranged for a concert violinist, Allison Boyt, to provide a benefit performance at Pawnee Rock on Labor Day weekend.  Boyt’s concert, “Violin for Vasculitis,” will include music and information about her personal struggle with vasculitis.   She will perform with a string ensemble.  While the planned performance will be acoustic, Dannebohm suggested other events, like picnics and concerts, could be possible in the future with the addition of electricity to the park.  He shared with the council that the state could be persuaded to provide the needed service if it received a letter of support from the city indicating it is in favor of the power supply.
It has also come to his attention that while he has received approval from the city to move forward with the event, he also needs permission from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.  Again, a letter of support from the city is needed, he said.  
In addition to Violinist, Dannebohm said the Marshall Bailey Band is willing to perform that day too.  He suggested this could be a one night event, starting in the mid-afternoon and ending in the evening.  Parking would be an issue, he said, and suggested arranging shuttles for attendees to the park from town.
Discussion ensued, and the council determined it would be in favor of having power supplied to the park, provided it could be turned on as needed.  The council agreed to have McCowan write the two letters of support, and a committee was created, to be headed by Councilperson Chris Mead, to examine other updates the city would like to propose to the state for the park. These included widening the entrance gate and replacing a picnic table that was removed for unknown reasons.   Dannebohm accepted a request to represent the community on that committee.  

Municipal Court
McCowan asked that the council enter into an executive session for the purposes of discussing legal and personnel issues.  The session lasted for 15 minutes.  Upon returning to open session, McCowan announced that due to the fact certain Pawnee Rock property owners had not responded to the Municipal Court process, the city would need to move forward with cleanup actions and would be hiring part-time maintenance help in June for that purpose.  
“I am happy to report there are many in town that are responding well,” McCowan said.  “The town is starting to shape up nicely, and people are starting to show pride in what Pawnee Rock is.”  

Kudos to city employees
McCowan also commended city employees Cathy Grover and Shane Bowman for their excellent service over the past year and entertained motions for raises for each employee.  Councilperson Phyllis Agee made a motion for and the council approved a raise of $1 an hour for Grover, but when Councilperson Vicky Alsup made a motion to provide Bowman with a $1 an hour raise, Bowman interrupted and asked that the council accept his thanks for the thought, but a raise was not necessary.
“I work for the city because I have pride in the place that I live.  I don’t do it for the money,” he said.  “I wish you would not (give a raise).”
Instead, he indicated he would be happy to get donuts or baked goods from time to time.  With that, the motion died for lack of a second.  The meeting then adjourned.
The next Pawnee Rock City Council meeting will be held July 6 at 7 p.m. at the city office.