GREG LOWER

Chanute city commissioners voted to extend the existing agreement with the Chanute Recreation Commission Monday evening, which included approval of the current tenants.

At a work session earlier this month, both the city and rec commissioners reached a consensus that a new agreement would not require significant changes. The current agreement expires May 31, and Monday’s vote extends it to that date in 2021.

Commissioner Tim Fairchild said they still needed to review utility rates for the agreement. The CRC pays a flat utility fee and both the rec center and aquatic center operate from a single meter.

Commissioner Phil Chaney brought up several items about which he had questions, including defining roles, Todd Newman’s positions as city parks director and CRC director, and agreements with USD 413.

The commission also reorganized for the coming year, with Sam Budreau stepping down as mayor after two terms.

Jacob LaRue and Tim Fairchild were nominated for mayor, and Fairchild suggested LaRue take the mayor position since he has been vice-mayor. Attorney David Brake said he was not sure the commission ever had a “joint ticket” suggested.

Returning commissioner Kevin Berthot was nominated as vice-mayor, and Fairchild won the position 3-2.

On the committee assignments, Berthot said he would take the position on the Parks Advisory Board, but said he had no experience to use in the vacancy on the Airport Advisory Board. He agreed to take the position after Community Development Director Ryan Follmer said the airport board has nearly been phased out.

LaRue and Fairchild will take positions held by the mayor and vice-mayor on the Economic Development Committee and Main Street Chanute.

In other business, the commission approved the use of a total of $13,600 in Transient Guest Tax funding for four Chanute tourism projects administered by the Chamber of Commerce. The TGT fund has a balance of approximately $200,000.

One of the projects is to place a Google Earth sign near downtown for tourists who want to take their picture with the emblem that is in a major intersection.

“It’s a little hard to stand in the middle of Main and Lincoln,” Chamber Director Jane Brophy said.

City Manager Jeff Cantrell said some groups seeking a picture have needed police traffic control.

Instead, a vinyl on aluminum sign nearby will provide a backdrop for visitors’ photos to prove they have been at the “center of Google Earth.”

The city tourism committee also requested $2,500 to start a grant pool to help small organizations promote local events, and $6,600 for three videos, one of 60 seconds and two of two-to-three minutes, which would be used both by the city and chamber/tourism to promote Chanute.

The remaining funds will replace a billboard on southbound US-169 north of the Cherry Street exit.

Commissioners approved resolutions to find properties at 909 S. Lincoln, owned by Dakota Patton; 909 S. Forest, owned by David Small and Yolanda Bloemer; and 1117 S. Evergreen, owned by Home Team Properties, in violation of city code.

Fairchild asked if any of the properties were owner-occupied, and said he would like to know if that is possible. Many times, properties in violation of code are rentals whose previous owners are deceased and the families live outside of Chanute. Fairchild said he would like to be able to assist low-income owner-occupants.

In his report, Cantrell said delineator traffic signs at Royster Middle School that needed to be replaced have been struck by school buses. He said new signs are placed outside of the turning areas.

He also updated commissioners on repairs to 35th Street and on flashing crossing lights on Cherry Street near a school.

Fairchild reported the Depot Management Committee has met and discussed replacement heating, ventilation and air conditioning which could cost up to $1 million. He also reported to commissioners about a program in Meriam that pays up to $500 for a portion of exterior residential improvement.

Chaney reported that he has received comments from constituents who complained  about neighbors being confrontational. He said the situation needs more civility.

“I’m not saying we ought to get together and sing Kumbaya,” he said.

He also said people need to be aware of the procedures to follow when utilities are shut off and who is the proper official to contact.

 

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