Monthly Archives: September 2017

Barber County Man Sentenced to More Than 19 Years in Prison for Child Sex Crimes

MEDICINE LODGE – (September 26, 2017) – A Barber County man was sentenced today to more than 19 years in prison for sex crimes against a child, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.

Robert E. Livi Pruitt, 26, pleaded guilty in July to one count of attempted rape, one count of aggravated intimidation of a victim and one count of contributing to a child’s misconduct. Judge Francis Meisenheimer sentenced Pruitt to 231 months to be served in the Kansas Department of Corrections. The sentence is to run consecutive to the Jessica’s Law life sentence Pruitt is currently serving.

The crimes were committed in May 2012, before his Jessica’s Law conviction. The charges stemmed from an investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Assistant Attorney General Lyndzie Carter of Schmidt’s office prosecuted the case.

Council Continues Work on Water System Grant, Passes Ordinances, Employee Handbook Changes

By REX ZIMMERMAN

THE CITY’S planned water system replacement project and ordinances topped the agenda of the Kiowa City Council Monday evening, September 11, as it met in regular session. All board members were present- Bill Watson, R.L. Simpson, Russ Molz, Tom Wells and Brian Hill- along with Mayor Brandon Farney.

Public Meeting

Prior to the regular council meeting, a public meeting was held as part of the city’s process to hopefully receive funding from USDA to help replace the water system in Kiowa, especially the 14 miles of piping from Kiowa to the city owned wells near Sharon.

City administrator Lou Leone explained that the grant being sought is for Phase I of the project, which would replace the 14 miles of water line along to the north water tower and improved water lines in the north half of the city. He said if the federal funding is received, there would not be a need for a water rate increase.

A couple of council members, however, felt that the projected $107,000 yearly payments for the city’s part of the project was just too much for a small town to handle – until they were reminded that the city at present spends around $70,000 a year just to maintain the pipeline along TriCity Road to Sharon. The city “can absorb the $107,000,” the city administrator said.

The city’s water pipes are also very clogged and corroded, and he showed the council examples. If Phase I of the project is approved and completed, Mr. Leone said USDA is encouraging the city to continue into Phase II, which would complete the loop of water lines around the city, replace old, clogged lines, and link both the north and south water towers. This would improve water pressure throughout the town as well as possibly help businesses and residents with their fire insurance coverage rates.

Ordinances Approved

Council adjourned the public meeting and began the regular session with approval of the agenda, previous minutes and bills for payment.

Next on the agenda was Ordinance No. 445, which involves how the city would respond to a water shortage or emergency situation. It was approved unanimously.

Ordinance No. 446 was also approved, which relates to insurance payments and ensuring home and business owners who have insurance use it to cover costs of cleaning up after a fire, storm, or other calamity or reimburse the city if it is forced to step in, such as was the case with the old bowling alley building. It updates the present city ordinance concerning the issue bringing it up to current standards.

A third proposed ordinance which would prohibit residents from parking their vehicles in their yards, particularly their front yards, was quickly rejected by council members.

Councilman Russ Molz noted that the city already has ordinances on the books to deal with some of these issues, but he said they aren’t being enforced. “We don’t enforce the ones we have now,” he said. “If we’re not going to enforce them why have them?” he added.

Surveyor for 12th Street

Council next approved hiring a surveyor to redraw the property lines along 12th Street. In 1895, the city allowed a railroad to be constructed along 12th Street and part of 11th Street by the Missouri-Pacific Railroad. It was abandoned in 1999 with the property reverting back to the city.

The property lines were never updated and has hampered the city’s desire to construct drainage ditches along the original 12th Street to help with drainage in the city. It will also aid property owners along the street to determine the exact boundaries of their properties.

Cost for the surveyor was quoted at $7,000.

Employee Handbook Changes

Council approved changes to the Employee Handbook, including changing the overtime rule from anything over 8 hours per day to over 40 hours per week. Changes were also approved to the sick time policy and the use of purchase order numbers. The changes go into effect October 1.

In a related item, council approved the purchase of software that would change the punch card system city employees now use to an electronic system of tracking employee hours. Cost is $3,140 for software and training plus a $300 per year fee.

Software to help track purchase orders was also approved at an initial cost of $1,600 plus a $200 annual fee.

Police Report

Council discussed two new patch designs proposed for police department uniforms and allowed Police Chief Steven Johnson to select his favorite. Cost is $2.67 per patch.

Chief Johnson also presented council with a letter discussing finances and noted that he and his family feel “blessed” that they are living in Kiowa and are very happy here.

Administrator’s Report

Lou Leone reported that paperwork for the USDA grant for a backup generator for the Community Building is completed and RSI has been notified to begin installing the Generac generator.

He also said that installation of the city’s second generator is scheduled to be completed this week. He said there would need to be one early morning power outage to hook up the new generator to the electric system.

Staff is consulting with the city’s insurance appraiser concerning the Swimming Pool damage and whether it should try to repair the existing pool house building or tear it down and build a new one. A grant application has also been submitted to South Central Community Foundation for $5,000 in an effort to seek more funding help for the project.

The city’s email addresses have all been changed over the toe “@kiowaks.org” extension, and the new water truck has been delivered to the Water Department.

Mr. Leone said that staff has been in contact with U.S. Congressman Ron Estes and State Senator Larry Alley to request a review of the city’s request for help with cleanup expenses after the two devastating windstorm the city experienced in late June and early August.

The city has made arrangements with the City of Pratt and the Heart of America group to provide a building inspector from time to time as needed.

FEMA will be updating the city’s floodplain maps in the next three years, he reported, Mr. Leone also gave a storm damage update and said that an additional 15-19 poles on the city’s newly acquired power line heading north are down. Plans are being developed to replace them with a better grade of poles hopefully before the end of the month.

He also gave an update for the public as to why the city needs a second generator (the present single generator won’t handle the entire city power needs and requires “rolling blackouts” to provide partial service to customers), and he also apologized to residents for any inconveniences they have endured due to power outages caused by the recent storms, which has delayed getting the second generator installed and running.

In other action, council:

  • Approved a request from the assistant water operator to be moved from part-time to full-time status.
  • Approved an updated contract for engineering services with BG Consultants after changes requested by the city were made. The engineering services are related to the proposed water line project and the city would not be liable for the $40,000+ cost if it does not receive the USDA grant or decides not to proceed with the project. The city should receive final word on the grant application in January, 2018.
  • Passed a resolution for payroll deduction.
  • Reviewed department head reports and approved purchase of a grapple hook to help with picking up large items such as tree limbs, etc.
  • Belatedly approved the annual “Burn Out” event held over Labor Day weekend
  • Approved a proclamation declaring the week of October 8 through October 14 as “Fire Prevention Week”.
  • Heard an update from city attorney Laurel McClellan on the former bowling alley property, who reported that the property should come up for sale soon. The city then can bid to purchase the property, or if someone else wins the bid those funds could be then claimed by the city to help pay the estimated $39,000 it cost the city to tear the building down.

In final action, council held an executive session to discuss employee evaluations.

Kiowa/Hardtner Methodist Churches Welcome Reverend Margaret Johnson

From KIOWA/HARDTNER UMC

On July 1 the Kiowa and Hardtner United Methodist Churches welcomed the Reverend Margaret Johnson as their new pastor. She was introduced to life in Barber County by the wind storm and power outage of June 30 and experienced first-hand the great community spirit here as people pulled together to clean up. She also participated in an encore performance on August 5 and 6!

Pastor Margaret was born and raised in Wichita, Ks. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Kansas and later obtained a master’s degree in adult education from K-State. After graduating from KU, she worked for more than 25 years as an executive staff member with the Girl Scout Council in south central Kansas where she held a number of positions including camp director, membership director, coordinator of program services, training director, and assistant executive director. One highlight was taking a group of high school girls to Europe. During this time she was also growing in her faith as a Christian and became actively involved in her church serving as lay person, singing in the choir, teaching Sunday school, chairing committees, and participating in a variety of mission and ministry activities.

After leaving the Girl Scouts, she took a position at her church as Director of Lay Ministries. Within the first six months, she realized God was calling her into ministry as a pastor. She continued working full-time at her church in Wichita while also attending Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Ok. She graduated with a Master of Divinity degree and was ordained as an Elder in the United Methodist Church. She has served as a pastor in Columbus, Ks and Parsons, Ks.

“I look forward to learning more about the community and getting to know the people here,” stated Pastor Margaret. “The traditions and culture may be different in each place I serve, but the deep desire for a fulfilling relationship with God, who loves us unconditionally, is universal. We rely on the church to be a place where we receive support and encouragement during those rough patches in life. I pray that the good news of Jesus Christ will be a beacon of hope for all who live here.”