ERIC SPRUILL

HUMBOLDT – The City of Humboldt has decided to reopen its swimming pool on June 29 after much discussion at its city council meeting on Monday night. 

The council will continue to watch the COVID-19 numbers for Allen County, which are still at zero.

“We all know at least one person in Allen County has had it (zero cases reported so far), they were probably just asymptomatic. The reason this was such a big decision is all it would take is just one COVID-19-positive person that visited the pool, and we could have a huge outbreak,” Humboldt City Administrator Cole Herder said. “The same goes for Chanute. We have been fortunate not to have any positives yet, and there in Neosho County, you have had very few. But all it takes is one to spread it to so many people. We’ve been fortunate so far, but in the back of our minds, there could be an outbreak that could be devastating.”

Herder said they already have eight lifeguards and two managers lined up to watch the facility. 

“Our problem wasn’t necessarily having lifeguards. I think a problem most towns had was discussions were held too early and we were all scared of the virus. Now that we ‘think’ we have the virus under control people are beginning to think we can go on as normal,” Herder said. “And I hope that is the case.”

The city hopes to hold a soft opening of the pool on June 29, and asks that people from out of town not visit the pool at that time, while they try to get a grasp on how to go about things.

Humboldt may hire a ninth lifeguard to screen visitors upon their arrival.

“Eight has always been the perfect number for us. If we have too many visitors, we may become overwhelmed. We are thinking about hiring a ninth lifeguard to ask, ‘How are you feeling? Have you been sick recently? Any trouble breathing?’ These are all non-foolproof questions. But I don’t know how we can take the temperature of a kid who has just rode across town on their bike,” he said. “That’s not fair either.”

Humboldt received its 2019 audit from Jarred, Gilmore & Phillips, and was told the results were favorable.

Herder, who took on the role as City Administrator six years ago yesterday, said his goal was always to get the budget where it needed to be.

“I’ll be honest, when I took over my main goal was to not transfer money from other accounts to make the budget turn out the right way,” he said. “It’s been a long process. Gas is always going to bring in revenue, but we are starting to see revenue for the first time coming from electric and water. Our streets are an issue. The swimming pool will always be a loss, but here in nine years, we will not have to make that lease payment. Of course, we just got finished with a $6 million sewage project that we will be paying for several years. But this is the first year we have been able to go through a year without transferring funds.”

Also up for discussion was condemning property located at 404 S. 7th. Herder said he would work with the property owners to get the home up to code.

“We don’t want to condemn the house. The main problem is the condition of the house on the outside and some debris and other items outside of the home,” he said. “We will do all we can to come up with solutions for the property owners.”

Humboldt is following the Ad Astra Plan and began Phase III on Monday. 

“City Hall will open back up on June 22. This COVID-19 thing, I don’t want to say it has been stressful, but it has changed our everyday life,” Herder said. “I remember back in mid-March going over to Opie’s to have our Mayor Nobby Davis sign some papers and looking down 8th Street and seeing no cars. After about a minute of standing there, I heard a dog barking in the distance. That was an eerie feeling. 

“Things are beginning to return to normal, but I hope everyone remains cautious and looks out for the safety of everyone they come in contact with.”

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