Ellis council OKs funds for FHSU water festival

ELLIS — The city of Ellis and Fort Hays State University will team up for a water festival in the spring.

The Ellis City Council on Feb. 3 voted to spend up to $2,500 to help supply and market the event, which is designed to educate residents about the importance of water conservation.

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The funds will come out of the city’s water utility fund.

In other business at the Feb. 3 meeting, the council discussed options to help revitalize the downtown business district. No action was taken, but council members discussed the possibility of requiring a special-use permit for owners wanting to use storefronts for storage only.

Here are the compete unofficial minutes of Monday’s meeting of the Ellis City Council:

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February 3, 2014


Mayor Lyle Johnston called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. Present were Council members John Walz, Jolene Niernberger, Loran Gottschalk and Terry Redetzke.  Also present were Public Works Director Alan Scheuerman, City Clerk Amy Burton, Police Chief Taft Yates, and City Attorney Olavee Raub.  Council members Jeff Wolf and John Leiker were absent.



City Clerk Amy Burton noted that due to the impending snow storm, Bartlett & West Engineers will not be present; therefore, the Special Order item on Water Exploration will be struck from the agenda.


Buck Driggs, Ryan Augustine, Brian Raub, Sean Simmons, Ron Johnson, Glen Keller, David McDaniel, Gary Luea, John LaShell, Michelle Wiesner, Henry Wiesner, Jim Carthew, and Rene Norris.


Council member Jolene Niernberger moved to approve the consent agenda containing the Minutes from Regular Meeting on January 20, 2014, the Minutes from Special Meeting on January 27, 2014, and Bills Ordinance #1942. Council member Terry Redetzke seconded the motion. The Council approved the consent agenda unanimously.






Capital Improvement: Repair/Maintenance

Buck Driggs, Driggs Design Group, reported the City should hear in the coming weeks on USDA funding for the waterline improvement project, with construction to begin in Fall 2014 or Spring 2015.  With the waterline improvement project progressing, Mr. Driggs inquired of Council’s intent on moving into Phase 2 of the overall project – street improvements in the affected area.  Council member Jolene Niernberger moved and Council member Terry Redetzke seconded a motion to authorize the pursuit of Community Development Block Grant funds for street improvements.  Motion carried 4-0.

General Government: Special Project

Ryan Augustine presented a proposed site map for the City’s website and provided suggestions for additional pages not currently included.  Mr. Augustine also provided a summary of services offered and proposed fees.  Council took no action.

Sewer: Repair/Maintenance

Public Works Director Alan Scheuerman presented two bids for rehabilitation of the St. Mary’s lift station.  Council member John Walz moved to accept the low bid from Mayer Specialty Services in the amount of $8,792.30 with the hopes that mobilization costs of up to $1,500.00 may be deducted if scheduled in conjunction with other work in the area.  Funds for the rehabilitation will come from the Sewer Utility Fund.  Council member Loran Gottschalk seconded the motion.  Motion carried 4-0.


Water: Special Project

The City and the Fort Hays State University Leadership 310 Team plan to hold a water festival this spring educating residents on the importance of water conservation.   Council member Jolene Niernberger made a motion to approve funding for the water festival at an amount not to exceed $2,500.00 for advertising and supplies, with funds to come out of the Water Utility Fund.  Council member John Walz seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously.

General Government: Building Code

The Council discussed the downtown business district and what could be done to revitalize the area.  Council considered a special use permit for those owners wanting to use their storefronts solely for storage.  Current owners would be grandfathered in from obtaining a permit.  City Attorney Olavee Raub noted the City can require compliance with the environmental code but needs to be cognizant of the floodplain regulations as well.  No action was taken.


Public Works

Water: Repair/Maintenance

Public Works Director Alan Scheuerman reported that he has received correspondence from Utility Service Company regarding a question on if the painting of the exterior of the water tower is included in their current contract with the City.  He will forward the existing contract to City Attorney Olavee Raub for review.

Sewer: Disposal

Mr. Scheuerman shared with the Governing Body a memo from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment dated February 2007, regarding the possible relocation of the outfall of the Wastewater Treatment Plant to Big Creek.  Last meeting, Council questioned if the City’s wells would recharge more rapidly if the effluent water from the Treatment Plant was relocated to Big Creek.  In the referenced memo, KDHE was concerned that relocating the effluent water to Big Creek would cause the nutrient levels to increase, causing algal blooms and render the creek unsafe for fishing, wading or boating.  Mr. Scheuerman does not feel at this time the City is capable of reducing the nutrient concentrations to an acceptable level.

Sewer: Special Project

Public Works Director Alan Scheuerman reviewed the Energy Assessment on the Wastewater Treatment Plant prepared by Wichita State University.

Sewer: License/Permit

Mr. Scheuerman reviewed with Council upcoming changes in the requirements needed for the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant permit.  Certain nutrient levels would have to be reduced in order to be compliant with the new regulations.  By September 30, 2014, the City must submit to KDHE a plan and designs of any upgrades necessary to the Plant to reduce the nutrient concentrations to an acceptable level.  Wilson & Company will meet with Council in March to review a draft of a proposed plan and cost assessments.

Water: Repair/Maintenance

Director Scheuerman reviewed the Comparative Water Report through December 10, 2013.  Layne Christensen has tested three wells and they appear to be working well, but Mr. Scheuerman is awaiting the full report.

General Government: Building Code

At the January 20, 2014 meeting, Council asked Public Works Director Alan Scheuerman to begin inspections on the downtown buildings.  Mr. Scheuerman assessed one block of the downtown area and reported that many of the buildings have environmental concerns and are unstable and in need of major repairs to ensure the safety of the occupants and pedestrians.  However, in this one block the property needs to be properly surveyed to determine the legal description for the owners.  City Attorney Olavee Raub will contact a surveyor to obtain a cost estimate to get the property surveyed.  The City would like to collaborate with the property owners to find a solution to address the safety and environmental concerns.  Council asked Mr. Scheuerman to inform the property owners of the areas that need addressed without citing them with a formal complaint at this time.  Attorney Raub noted the City should consider budgeting for blight structures if property owners refuse or are unable to make the necessary repairs in the future.

Personnel: Entry

Mr. Scheuerman would like to hire Tyler Watson for the vacant sanitation position.  Council member John Walz moved and Council member Jolene Niernberger seconded a motion to approve the hiring of Tyler Watson for the General Public Works Employee I sanitation position at a probationary wage of $11.84 effective February 17, 2014.  Motion carried 4-0.

Streets: Repair/Maintenance

Mr. Scheuerman informed Council that the 1991 Ford tandem axle truck is in need of repair.  If the engine needs replaced, early estimates put the repair upwards to $15,000.00.  To upgrade the truck to a newer model with 100,000-200,000 miles on it could cost the City on average $30,000.00.  Mr. Scheuerman noted the City does not adequately budget contingency funds in the case of equipment failures.  The truck needs to be fixed or replaced as it is vital to the City fleet, yet funds are not readily available in the Special Machinery fund.  It was the consensus of Council to have Mr. Scheuerman obtain a cost estimate on what repairs are needed to fix the truck


Police Chief Taft Yates presented the February officer calendar.  One addition to the calendar is training on the new Enterpol records management system on February 26, 2014.  Chief Yates also wanted to clarify that the annual Enterpol support fee of $1,900.00 would not start until March 2015.  Officer Jon Geiger has completed his field training and will attend the KLETC reciprocity class March 3rd – 7th.

City Clerk

City Clerk Amy Burton presented the December 2013 and 4th Quarter 2013 Treasurer’s reports.  The annual rabies clinic was held January 25th with thirty-one dog tags sold and immunizations administered.  Ms. Burton then inquired of Council’s intent on whether to open the municipal pool this year.  It was the consensus of Council to operate the pool in the 2014 season.  Council member Loran Gottschalk suggested exploring an option of bussing kids over to the Hays Aquatic Park in the future.  Ms. Burton reminded the Governing Body of the K-State Community Board Leadership Series later in February.  She also reported she has received an email from IdeaTek regarding their interest in obtaining a franchise agreement with the City for a fiber optic build within Ellis.  Ms. Burton then informed Council of Senate Bill 304 limiting the ability of cities to lease public facilities for the purpose of delivering telecommunication service to customers.  The hearing on the bill has currently been postponed.


Council member John Walz thanked Henry and Helen Fischer and the Alumni Association for allowing the City the opportunity to consider the vacant building on 2nd Street.  Mr. Walz provided a brochure to the Governing Body on the Kansas PRIDE program.  The focus of the program is to build community pride by meeting with residents to determine what they would like to see to better the community, and then collaborate with City organizations to take action.  Mr. Walz would like to schedule a separate meeting with interested parties to review the program.

Council member Jolene Niernberger responded to a resident’s concern at the last Council meeting that a previous Council had already approved the payoff of the fire truck.  Ms. Niernberger could not find evidence that a motion to that effect had been recorded in the official minutes for that time frame; therefore, the current Council did the right thing in taking action.  Ms. Niernberger also wanted to thank Police Chief Taft Yates for his recent presentation to a group of Vietnam veterans in Hays.


Council member Terry Redetzke moved and Council member Loran Gottschalk seconded a motion to adjourn. The motion carried unanimously.  The meeting adjourned at 9:27 p.m.

  • gomer

    what to do about the downtown…oh my what can we do?? how about support the businesses you have by shopping and utilizing the services they offer instead of going out of town? Ellis had many shops that are no more, clothing stores, jewelers,dry cleaners, several groceries, photographers, a dime store, restaurants, a bowling alley….. just to name a few. When folks go out of town for these services and products, you get an empty downtown.