Ongoing drainage issues discussed in Scranton

SCRANTON — The Scranton City Council continued discussion of drainage issues with residents during its March 7 regular meeting.

Ladonna Lee, resident, attended the Feb. 21 meeting of the council, requesting the city address damage to her property, which she alleged took place during the water project. Council members and city staff were to meet Lee at her residence on Dogwood Avenue in the west part of the city.

“There was supposed to be two people from the council, but they didn’t meet us down there,” Lee said. “I just want to know what happened and when it’s going to be fixed.”

Council members said they missed the meeting, but visited the property the next day. James Palacio, city maintenance supervisor, also looked at the culverts and water project work at the property.

“Tubes need unburied,” Palacio said. “They stuck a valve right in the middle of a ditch, like they did everywhere. We have to find tubes first. I found the end of the one at the end of the driveway. I can’t find the end of it. I haven’t had a chance to get back over there to do any more digging.”

Lee discussed with the council that the drainage issues are common in the area, and that work would need to be done at several properties to fix the problems.

“Is that something that happened because of the water project, or the way it’s been for years?” asked Randy Ming, council member.

“I’d say both, but a lot of it was the water project,” Lee said. “The reason you can see some of the culverts now is it has settled over two years. Some you still can’t find. I think it’s out of years of neglect of not cleaning out the ditches and culverts. The ditches used to be so deep, you’d have to be careful on your riding lawn mower. Now it’s level.”

Council members discussed valve and hydrant placement throughout the city.

“There’s a value in the middle of the ditch?” asked Amy Miner, council member.

“All over town,” said Bobi Morris, city clerk.

“That is a BG problem? A water project problem?” Miner asked.

“Yes,” Palacio said.

Gary Burkdoll, mayor, suggested calling in representatives from BG Consultants, the water project engineers, and Wyatt Streetscapes, its construction manager.

“I would call in both BG and Wyatt, so we know what’s going on,” Miner said. “I’d like to see them both. There’s two sides to the story, and in the middle is where you find the truth.”

“Let’s invite them both to the next meeting,” Gary Burkdoll said.

“We’re going to invite the engineer and the contractor to some of the next meeting,” Miner said. “Figure out what’s going on, and why the shut off value’s in the ditch. I’m not an engineer. I don’t understand what’s going on. Maybe I’m just an idiot.”

“It’s not us whose idiots,” Lee said.

In other business, the council:

• approved a request from Ken Croucher, Scranton fire chief, to join area agencies in assisting with mutual aid for brush fires in western Kansas.

• discussed landscaping bids for additional drainage work around the county. The council considered seeking bids for the area.

• approved a request for up to five members of the department to attend four days of training next week in Shawnee County for $25 per person.

• discussed the status of a trailer at 433 East Street, with Clint Whitney, owner of the property, who requested an extension to repair the property. Todd Luckman, city attorney, had previously sent a letter indicating the trailer needed to be removed by March 19.

• approved the annual insurance rates with Integrity Insurance agent Mashall Madill, Topeka, who gave a short update on the rates.

• conducted a 10-minute executive session to discuss non-elected personnel. Upon return to open session, the council began vague conversation about equipment.

“If we have an issue, that’s not in the budget, how do we go about paying for it,” Miner asked.

After several questions from Morris, the council revealed they were discussing a new police vehicle. Jennifer Burkdoll explained the needed repairs for the vehicles would cost more than the cost of the vehicle.

Gary Ming said they were looking at a cost of around $20,000. Ted McDaniels, police chief, said that was the approximate cost for a used Dodge Charger from the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Morris said the vehicles could be purchased with a lease purchase through an area bank. The council then tabled the item.

• discussed selling decommissioned fire hydrants and other items through PurpleWave.

• discussed inspection of the city’s bucket truck. Palacio suggested foregoing inspection if the city expected to purchase a new truck. The council agreed by consensus to have the truck inspected.

“Hopefully it passes, because I’ve been using it,” Palacio said.

• approved $507.46 for electrical supplies from Stanion Wholesale Electric Company, Inc., Pratt. Palacio said he would also need a lock-out tag-out kit, which the council approved up to $300 for the item.

• approved advertising for maintenance help.

"I’d like someone qualified for water,” Palacio said. “I’ve got a lot of work to be done.”

Upon question from Myrick, Morris said the council had received no new applications.

• heard from Morris, who noted at the current rate, Ted McDaniel, police chief, would be out of hours in June.

“He’s part-time certified,” Morris said. “He can only work 1,000 hours per year.”

• approved a request by Countryside Church to host revivals from 4 to 5:30 p.m. April 22 and June 17 at locations in town.

• conducted a 10-minute executive session to discuss non-elected personnel, regarding a “former employee and his latest action.”

• heard that a recently approved maintenance employee declined the position.

During the Feb. 21 meeting, the council:

• approved $1,023.69 and $685 to make repairs to the fire station, $684.75 for a culvert for W. Boone Street, and $500 for a walk-through door at the city shop.

• approved hiring Thad Carpentier for full-time maintenance at $10.50 per hour, reducing Wesley Wright’s pay to $14 per hour, increasing the salary for Morris to $21 per hour, and waived the probationary period for Palacio.

• conducted a total of 65 minutes in executive sessions to discuss non-elected personnel.

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