Residents request reconsideration

Staff writer

At the Peabody City Council meeting Monday night, Peabody businessman Mark Whitney and Marion County Commissioner Randy Dallke addressed the council about the Peabody Main Street program during the time set aside for public comment.

Whitney read a prepared statement.

He asked that since the state of Kansas ended the Main Street program, each of the council members make a realistic evaluation of the Peabody Main Street program and end the program since, in his opinion, it is neither working nor needed.

Whitney accused PMSA of inflating the statistics, costs, and values used in the annual report.

“It is your duty as council members to disseminate the information and then determine the value of the costs of this program,” he read.

He asked the council not to be swayed by their personal relationships with those involved in the program, but weigh the values of the program with the need for infrastructure in the city.

“It is time for you to listen to the citizens of Peabody and not take the programs such as the Baker Loft project and basically shove down the throats taking hundreds of thousands of dollars with it,” he read.

“Let’s face it council, sometimes you need to cut your losses and the 1880’s were over 120 years ago.”

Dallke reminded council members that he had spent time sitting in the council chairs and had from time to time promoted the Main Street program. He said he “partly agreed with Mark.”

Dallke said that from his spot on the commission he sees economic development as a countywide issue.

“I think if you are going to have the support cut on something like the Main Street program, you probably need to re-evaluate,” he said. “It might be time to try something else.”

Dallke said the Marion County Commission in place before he came on board were interested in economic development and urged the incoming group to find a way to fund it and put it in motion.

“We were looking at attracting some kind of industry or business that would provide jobs countywide. That didn’t happen and we have tried to look at other options,” he added.

The council took no action on either statement.

Later in the meeting Peabody Main Street Director Shane Marler made his report to the council and the future of the program was discussed. Councilman Tom Schmidt made a motion for the council to issue a statement of support for the local program even though the Department of Commerce stripped PMSA of many of its economic development tools.

The council voted to stand in support of the local Main Street program and move ahead with the city’s economic development projects.

In other business:

  • Steven King of the Peabody Fire Department and Fourth Fire District presented information on the firefighters’ plan to replace about five radios at a cost of $700 to $800 each. He said that in five years, all the county departments will go to digital radios and those the local fire department wants to buy are combination analog/digital to cover communications now and when the changeover takes place. The fire department will need to place the order before the first of the year and will be asking for financial assistance to pay for them.
  • The council agreed to pay one-half the $150 registration cost to send Kelly Cook to the state firefighter convention next month.
  • Travis Wilson asked the council for a donation to purchase a new dog to serve in the county canine unit. Wilson’s current “partner,” Jax, will be retired from the unit soon. Wilson is responsible for personally paying for the new animal and estimates the cost to be about $12,500. The dog will be trained to do the necessary search work. Wilson will visit other Marion County communities for assistance with the cost. The council made no decision, but later in the meeting, Police Chief Bruce Burke said there would likely be money available in the police diversion fund.
  • City Administrator Mac Manning announced that fall cleanup would begin Oct. 8 and end Oct. 12.
  • Marler told the council that PMSA is planning a Halloween “Trick-or-Trunk” event downtown on Oct. 31. A request for barricades was approved.
  • Council members approved adoption of the Standard Traffic Ordinance that included a change that prohibits parking on Division Street from Plum to Locust at any time. The STO is approved annually.
  • The council also approved the Uniform Public Offense Code. The UPOC is approved annually.
  • Manning requested permission to order a water fund rate study that will be done at no charge by Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The previous rate study was done eight years ago. The council approved the request.
  • Manning also told the council that the city’s annual dog kennel license application was approved.
  • Council members received a list of the 26 dead-end water lines in the city. Public Works Director Darren Pickens provided a map of the city with the dead-end lines highlighted. The water committee agreed to begin meeting and try to plan for some grants or funding to begin replacing some of the lines in problem areas.
  • Burke said he anticipates the need for a new police car in the next year or two and asked the council if there was still a plan to purchase a car. The council advised him to begin looking at costs and options and bring the information to a future meeting.
  • Burke said there had been a request for the roosting cannon to be fired to frighten away birds in the downtown area recently. After shooting a couple of percussion rounds, the officers decided to stop because of possible danger to the front of the American Legion building. Burke said the cannon still is available for residential neighborhoods if it is needed.

The next meeting of the Peabody City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 8.

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