Archive for Thursday, June 19, 2008

Prepared for disaster?

June 19, 2008

Is Baldwin City prepared for a natural disaster, such as the vast amounts of tornadoes that have hit all over Kansas this year? Tony Brown doesn't think so.

Brown told fellow Baldwin City Council members at Monday's meeting that the safety committee, which he chairs, will address the issue and he'll report back.

"The safety committee needs to get more serious about being prepared for any environmental disaster," said Brown. "I fear we are unprepared. I hope to come back next time with more detail.

"Heaven forbid we will ever face this kind of disaster, but we need to be prepared," he said.

Brown got to thinking about it after several people brought it up to him, especially after the Iowa tornado that killed four Boy Scouts. Former Council Member Nancy Brown put together an emergency plan several years ago when she headed up the safety committee.

But, such a plan needs to be reviewed often and changes made when there are changes in city positions, locations, etc., he said. That's what the safety committee, which N. Brown still serves on, will do.

"What would happen if Baldwin City was hit by a tornado?" said T. Brown. "Nancy Brown came up with a plan, but we need to be more diligent about it."

After the initial plan was developed, key players had a "table-top exercise" where an example of a disaster was used and the group discussed what would be done. One key element was missing from that, which will be addressed this time.

"The university wants to be involved with the next one," said Mayor Gary Walbridge, who is director of the physical plant at Baker. "If it affects Baldwin City, it affects Baker."

The city does have one storm shelter set up. When there's a tornado warning, Baldwin City police will unlock the gymnasium area of Baldwin Junior High School. The safest area there is in the locker rooms.

T. Brown didn't relegate his comments to just safety during a meeting that was brief, with only one item of business.

"I'd like it to be in the minutes that the city council is appreciative of all the people that have done everything for the June events," he said, mentioning Thomas the Tank Engine, City-Wide Garage Sale, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and the upcoming City-Wide Clean Up that is Saturday. "The efforts of individual people to make this community what it is, is greatly appreciated. People are amazed at what we do."

The council unanimously approved a bid for $244,438.80 by Heartland Midwest, LLC, for the Sixth Street sanitary improvement project. The sewer line from roughly High Street south will be replaced and relocated out of the street, which is another project that will be done this summer.

"This project is one we'll do in advance of the county doing the road work," said City Administrator Jeff Dingman.

Public Works Director Bill Winegar explained the project and also how the bidding process worked.

"We had 11 bidders," said Winegar. "I was very, very pleased."

The bids were all over the place, as noted by Council Member Ken Wagner.

"There is a 52 percent difference between the low and the high," said Wagner.

"All I can figure is the economy," said Winegar. "There are people out there that are hungry."

Council President Amy Cleavinger asked if there were any local bidders, noting that the council likes to shop at home. She was told none of the local contractors or any from Douglas County bid on the project.


ibelieveinmapleleaf 9 years, 10 months ago

Let me assure you, this city would fall apart in the event of a natural disaster. I've been involved in recovery efforts for a suburb of Wichita that was hit hard by a tornado 17 years ago. Their city staff worked night and day to process things as simple as demolition and building permits to make sure there were no delays in getting construction going just as soon as possible.

Cut to present day Baldwin City. This staff can't even issue a building permit to the new hardware store for an approved project because they just haven't yet gotten around to it. Say your prayers if we ever get hit hard by a tornado, because at the rate it's going, it'll take 17 years for you to be able to knock down your damaged old house, and probably another 17 before you can begin building your new house.


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