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Remodel bid sparks council debate
Lowry interested in leasing The Long Drive
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Hoisington City Council members reset the hearing date concerning this property at 610 E. 7th St. The May 22 hearing will determine if the property is dangerous, unsafe or unfit for human use or habitation. - photo by Veronica Coons, Tribune staff

HOISINGTON — City Council members were uncertain how to proceed Monday night after they were presented with three bids for the construction and installation of new cabinets and counter tops for the city offices. In February, Hoisington City Manager Jonathan Mitchell said money had been set aside for a few years for the remodeling of the offices. Still, when he shared that office staff recommended the high bid, which was nearly 50 percent higher than the other two bids, eyebrows were raised.
Bids were solicited from five local companies, and three bids were received by the deadline. They included one from Mitchell’s Wood Furniture and More for $14,500, one from Crawford’s Custom Cabinets for $14,500, and one from Meitner Construction for $21,232.42. Council members noted they had seen and approved of work done by all three in the past. Mitchell and Meitner had both helped to develop the design for the cabinets that all of the companies used as a basis for their bids, Mitchell said. The recommendation hinged on the experience and reputation Meitner has built over several years.
Mitchell said he had talked with Meitner after all sealed bids had been opened, sharing with him the other two bid amounts. Mitchell said Meitner could not determine how the other two bidders could provide what the city wanted for that price.
Discussion ensued about the number of years each contractor had been in business, how accurate they were in estimating the time their projects would take, and their level of expertise in executing a complicated design. There was no question that Meitner’s work is high quality, and council members trusted his judgement in how long the project would take start to finish.
For council members Mike Aylward and Robert Bruce, however, the wide difference in price continued to be a sticking point. After some discussion, Karen Van Brimmer, the council president, agreed that in order to be good stewards of the city’s resources, they should get more information. The council asked Mitchell to invite both the low bidders to attend the next council meeting and explain how they came to their final bids before a decision is made.

Driving range
Mark and Kristi Lovett, current lessees of the city’s land east of Rotomix, have been operating a driving range, The Long Drive, for the past few years. When they announced they would be moving at the end of February for a new employment opportunity, the city learned of an individual interested in taking over that lease. That individual is Bill Lowry, also the superintendent of Hoisington USD 428 and Otis-Bison USD 403.
Mitchell reported Lowry proposes a five-year lease with the same terms as the Lovetts. The one change, however, concerns the annual city-sponsored extracurricular activity. Previously, the annual Hoisington Mud Run derby was held at The Long Drive, but the damage was time consuming and costly to repair afterwards, Mitchell said. Another proposal had been a circle track event, but that too could be damaging. Still, the council wants the city to continue to be able to have an event there. The matter will be revisited at a future meeting.

City manager’s report
Mitchell announced the city has chosen two pool manager applicants for 2017, and six applicants for lifeguard have also stepped forward. The city will continue to pay for certification for lifeguards.
The two managers who have been extended offers of employment are Mike Raimer of Great Bend and Seth Gruber of Russell. Both are college students who have experience managing pools and coaching swimming. They will share the salary for the position, Mitchell added, proportionately to the amount of hours they work.
Scott Christianson is working with the city to complete repairs to the Rotomix building.
At city hall, an information technology is underway and soon visitors will be able to identify cemetery plots using a touchscreen with zoom capabilities.
Earlier this month, Clara Barton Hospital was experiencing brown-outs, so the city has agreed to make some conversions to the existing city-side load, increasing the capacity of the system. Then, it will be up to the hospital to make any adjustments on their side to alleviate the problem, Mitchell said.
Finally, Mitchell provided an update on two projects that residents stand to benefit from. First, about half of the surveys for the CDBG grant have been collected, while some city staff continue to collect more. Mitchell asked that anyone looking for a flexible part-time position contact the city, as more help is needed. Second, a meeting has been set for April 5 from 2-8 p.m. to present and receive comments about changes to the Cow Creek floodplain map. Hoisington will see more people move out of the floodplain, with only a few properties being moved in. The map will be available at the meeting, along with a work stations and engineers, state officials and elected representatives will be on hand to answer questions.

Executive sessions
Three executive sessions were requested at the end of the meeting. The first was for the discussion of non-elected personnel, for 10 minutes, and included the governing body and city attorney. No action was taken. The second was again for he discussion of non-elected personnel, for 10- minutes, and included the city manager, governing body and city attorney. No action was taken. The third was for the discussion of employer-employee relations and negotiations, and included the city manager, governing body and city attorney, for 10 minutes. Again, no action was taken. Following these sessions, the meeting was adjourned.
The next regular meeting of the Hoisington City Council will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 13, at the Hoisington Municipal Complex.

Other items of discussion and actions taken included:
Approved Resolution 3-2017, to replace 2-2017 approved at the last meeting. This moves back the hearing date for a show cause hearing for 610 E. 7th St. for determining if it is dangerous, unsafe or unfit for human use or habitation. Previously, the hearing would have been at the April 24 meeting, but in order to comply with additional publication time frames, the new hearing date is May 22.
Mayor Clayton Williamson shared a correspondence received from Melissa Nech, director for the Hoisington Public Library, announcing that Connie Seib will be stepping down from the library board at the end of her term in April. The board recommended Lois McLeland to replace her, and council members approved the appointment as part of the consent agenda.