Archive for Thursday, April 10, 2008

Jayhawk game prompts quick council meeting

April 10, 2008

With visions of a national championship dancing in their heads, Baldwin City Council members wasted no time with Monday's meeting.

It was over in a half an hour, well ahead of Monday's NCAA title tip-off between the University of Kansas and Memphis. There were even two KU shirts being worn at the council table. When the meeting was adjourned, it was:

"Rock Chalk Jayhawk, go KU," from several council members.

Everyone dashed out the door of the American Legion Hall just as quickly, headed for various television sets around Douglas County. Of course, it helped that there was little on the agenda and only two action items - approving the closing of streets for the Maple Leaf Festival and proclaiming April 24 as Arbor Day in Baldwin City.

But, there was still some time for updates on several major items, including a report on a meeting between safety committee members and the Baldwin City Volunteer Fire Department last week. The firefighters had attended the last council meeting to voice displeasure regarding the newly created full-time fire chief position.

"Several of us from the safety committee met with the firefighters," said Council Member Tony Brown, who heads the committee. "My feeling was it was a very positive, frank discussion. I think we left feeling that we could talk about everything.

"They understand us a little bit better and we understand them a little bit better," said Brown. "We will continue to keep communication open."

Council President Amy Cleavinger, another member of the committee, added that the firefighters would be included in choosing the chief.

"Where we left it was trying to involve a representative of the fire department to be involved in the hiring process and have a voice in it," said Cleavinger. "They are interested in meeting some of these candidates."

Mayor Gary Walbridge and City Administrator Jeff Dingman also attended the meeting.

"They are not the deciding factor," Walbridge said of the firefighters choosing a chief. "Jeff and the city council are. There was a pledge of support for the position."

Council Member Doyle Jardon, a member of the utility committee, updated the council on a proposed recycling center that could be built at the power plant.

"At the utility committee, we talked about the new location," Jardon said of the plan proposed by Roger Boyd, who heads up recycling efforts at Baker University. "There were multiple concerns, multiple possibilities. We've got some more research to do. We don't want to put the cart before the horse. That's still in the process. That ball is still rolling. I think we're definitely moving in the right direction."

Council Member Ken Wagner brought up the 50 cent charge each month that residents are charged by Ottawa Sanitation for the recycling bin at the Midland Railway Depot.

"We need to make sure we can get out of that contract," said Council Member Ted Brecheisen, Jr., another member of the utility committee.

That surcharge could go toward the project, which was first proposed at around $10,000, but is likely to go up because of the need to use a hard surface, i.e. asphalt, instead of the original rock base.

"I'm glad you guys thought about the funding deal," said Wagner.

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