Archive for Thursday, December 7, 2006

A century of power is noted

December 7, 2006

A birthday of sorts was celebrated at Monday's Baldwin City Council meeting. The city's electrical utility department has been in operation for a century.

Diann Buress of the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency was at the meeting to present a plaque commemorating Baldwin's plunge into electrical service in 1906.

"I'm very privileged to be here tonight to present this plaque to the city for 100 years as an electrical utility," said Buress.

She noted that in 1906, the average life expectancy was 47 years, 14 percent of households had a bathtub and the average wage was 22 cents an hour.

"Those statistics make you realize how insightful the city fathers were to establish an electrical utility," she said. "In the late '70s, the utility departments in cities saw the need to band together and that's what started KMEA.

"Baldwin City was one of our early, early members," said Buress. "Baldwin City has been an important player in our organization."

City Administrator Jeff Dingman explained that in 1905, a citywide vote showed residents were in favor of building their own electrical power plant by a 3-1 margin. In April of 1906, the city council approved the construction of a $1,250 electrical plant. Construction began that fall and the plant was placed in service on Feb. 5, 1907.

A complete history of Baldwin's electrical production can be found on the city's Web site at

As for Sunday's 90-second electrical outage, Dingman said it was a problem with KCP&L, not with the city's system.

"The outage was on our feed from KCP&L, not internal to our system," said Dingman. "The reclosures are intended to automatically reset the feed when a trip happens. They usually operate within 45-60 seconds, so when an outage occurs, I generally count the seconds until it comes back on. If it takes about a minute or so, it's usually something on the KCP&L feed, which causes me a lot less stress."

Rob Culley, electrical superintendent, checked on the problem.

"I called KCP&L to find out what may have caused it," said Culley. "Apparently it was either wind, or that something actually got into the the west Gardner feed and caused a trip. The reclosers had to operate twice for it to hold."

One of the more interesting items of business at Monday's meeting concerned the rezoning request for two parcels of land in the FireTree Estates subdivision. The two lots are north of the Baldwin City Market and east of Vintage Park. They are currently zoned commercial, but owner Jerry Donnelly requested a change to residential for the development of duplexes. The request went before the planning commission first and several residents of the area were in attendance. The planning commission recommended it.

"It's going to tie in well with what is going on there," said Tina Rakes, head of the codes and zoning enforcement. "The neighbors were in attendance (at the planning commission) and were in favor of it. It's something that blends into the area."

The council approved the first reading of an ordinance for the rezoning 4-0. Council Member Doyle Jardon was not at the meeting.

Dingman also informed the council of a meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Ottawa Country Club concerning the Gardner Intramodal operation which will establish a huge railroad shipping yard near the Johnson County community.

"It will, without a doubt, affect us," said Mayor Gary Walbridge.

Council President Amy Cleavinger also brought up a letter that council members had received from a resident regarding four streets in Baldwin that are not paved.

"I just feel like overall we need to ask ourselves why we have these like that," said Cleavinger said.

The item will be placed on the agenda for the council's next meeting.

In other business Monday night, the council unanimously approved:

  • A resolution declaring that the financial statements and financial reports of the City of Baldwin City be prepared on the basis of cash receipts and disbursements as adjusted to show compliance with Kansas law.
  • A resolution authorizing application for State Revolving Fund loans for a proposed sanitary sewer project and designating Dingman as the authorized signatory/representative.
  • A resolution authorizing affiliation with the KP&F Optional Life Insurance program for those employees transferring affiliation from KPERS to KP&F effective Jan. 1.
  • Authorizing the city administrator to execute a lease of city property to the Baldwin Golf Association for the year 2007.

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