Archive for Thursday, August 18, 2005

Council to eye Sunday liquor sales

August 18, 2005

Although the agenda for Monday night's Baldwin City Council meeting didn't have much meat on it, it turned into an interesting -- but brief -- meeting.

It quickly headed down that path during the opening segment of the meeting during the public comments and question section. Normally, no one participates. But, Steve Larrick, owner of Cool Cat Liquor on U.S. Highway 56, had a question.

"What I was wanting ask the council is if you'd agree to the ordinance on liquor sales for Sunday," said Larrick, explaining that the ordinance would have to be published twice in the Signal to allow for a protest period. "If there's not any protest, it would become effective 60 days after you approve it."

The council told Larrick that Frank Foye, owner of Santa Fe Market, had been to the last council meeting making the same request. New legislation allows for the sale of Cereal Malt Beverages at convenience stores, as well as liquor store sales on Sunday where approved. Currently, Lawrence liquor stores are open on Sundays.

"We did discuss this," said Council Member Ted Brecheisen, Jr. "I would propose adding this to the agenda (tonight) for first reading."

It was then approved for addition to the agenda. City Administrator Jeff Dingman was ready to ask for the same, based on Foye's request before, which had been left off the original agenda.

"I really have not heard any opposition to this," said Council President Amy Cleavinger, who was presiding over her first meeting in the absence of Mayor Gary Walbridge.

"Let's allow people who are opposed to it to speak up," said Council Member Tony Brown.

Later in the meeting, the council approved the ordinance on its first reading. Second reading will be at the Sept. 6 regular meeting, which is a Tuesday instead of the usual Monday, because of the Labor Day weekend.

There were other "unscheduled" items for the council. That included a report on electricity in addition to the action item where the city approved entering an agreement with KMEA for energy sales. It was just a matter of housekeeping. The city has been doing it for years, but it was discovered by KMEA that there was no agreement.

But, during that discussion, it was revealed by Utility Director Terry McKinney that the city's new power plant saved the day during a hot stretch and the BPU Nearman Plant went off line. In 1999, the Nearman Plant -- which supplies 2,500 Kw of the city's summer power -- was shut down. It was during a stretch of 10 100-plus degree days in a row. Power was at a premium and the city ended up spending $300,000 to purchase power during the stretch. There were also outages.

That didn't happen this time around. On July 30, KMEA notified the city that the Nearman Plant was again down and that 2,500 Kw wouldn't be available. This time, because of an additional agreement with GRDA to supply power and the city's ability to produce up to 6,330 Kw from the new plant south of town, there wasn't a loss of power nor hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost.

"We had to do some scrambling for power," said McKinney. "We had to generate all of our power Monday after KPL curtailed us. It was nice to be able to generate our own."

Cleavinger and the rest of the council was pleased to hear of the savings from the city's investment in the new plant.

"The money is one thing; not having the outages was really good, too," she said.

In the only action item of the evening on the agenda, the council unanimously approved a bid of $56,132.14 from PB Hoildale Co., Inc., of Chanute to install a fueling station at the 1100 Orange St. complex. It will be used for the city's entire fleet of vehicles and equipment and will have tanks for gasoline, on-road diesel fuel and off-road diesel fuel. Currently, tanks are at the downtown complex and can't be monitored.

Department heads will be able to monitor fuel usage and keep tabs on where the city's fuel is being used. It will aid in budgeting.

"This will let Jeff (Dingman) and Peggy (Nichols, city clerk) keep track of where everything goes," said Brecheisen.

Dingman also wanted to make the council and the public aware of an upcoming meeting concerning the two downtown improvement projects that will be started soon. One is a revitalization of the downtown area with a $1 million-plus price tag. The other is the restoration of the "Women's Bridge" on High Street between 10th and 11th streets that is just under a million dollars. The state is picking up 80 percent of the costs on both.

"Our design engineers (EB&H) will be presenting information on timeline and schedule, and possibly answering some questions about how business access will be affected, which will hopefully be not much), that sort of thing," said Dingman. "It will focus really on how long design should take, when we can go out for bids on the work, when construction should start and how long it should last. There will be opportunity to comment on design at a later date, before we send the final design to KDOT for approval."

That meeting will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 15 in the American Legion Hall.

The council met for 30 minutes in executive session. Following the session, the council voted unanimously to extend Dingman's contract through 2010. The contract calls for a 5 percent raise to $72,765.

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