Category Archives: News

Help Needed to Put Flags Out at Cemetery

The American Legion Auxiliary is seeking help to put out flags at Riverview Cemetery. Please meet Friday at the cemetery at 6 :00 p.m.

 

Karlissa Little Crowned “Miss South Barber”

South Barber junior Karlissa Little was crowned “Miss South Barber” Wednesday afternoon, May 9, in one of the most entertaining and competitive pageants in recent memory. Karlissa will represent her school at various events throughout the coming year and will also compete next fall in the “Miss Cinderella Pageant” held during homecoming festivities at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva. Other junior girls competing for the title were Kathleen Martin, ReAnna Dunlap and Haylie Drake. See this week’s newspaper for more photos.

 

Council Votes to Hold Special Election July 10 on Term Limits, Pool to Open on Schedule

By REX ZIMMERMAN

Kiowa voters will head to the polls Tuesday, July 10, to decide whether or not the city should have term limits for the mayor and city council elected positions.

A petition presented in April to the council was determined to have enough valid signatures to bring the issue to a vote, and council agreed at its May 7 meeting to call a special election on July 10 to allow voters to determine the issue.

Kiowa had operated for several years with a limit of two terms for elected officials, but earlier this year the city council passed Charter Ordinance 18-018 eliminating the term limits, citing among other things the difficulty finding candidates to run for vacancies when they became open.

The question voters will be asked on the July 10 ballot is whether the charter ordinance eliminating term limits should go into effect or not. Registered voters in the City of Kiowa will cast ballots at the Kiowa Community Building. Estimated cost of the special election is $3,500 – $4,500.

Council president Bill Watson conducted the monthly meeting as Mayor Ron Rohr was under the weather. Other council members present were R.L. Simpson (by speakerphone), Tom Wells, Brian Hill and Russ Molz.

Accusations on Social Media

After approval of the agenda, previous minutes and bills for payment, council heard from William Wilburn, owner of Kiowa Construction, who informed the group of false accusations going around town and on Facebook that he felt were trying to destroy he and his family. At first, he said, he thought it was a member of the council that had spread the rumors, but after talking with that member he realized it was not him and apologized. He said he has acquired an attorney and is “going after” the person or persons he feels are responsible for the false statements.

Also under public comments, Christina Duvall asked about the sidewalk around the corner of 7th and Main, which are in bad shape due to the settling of the ground where the former bowling alley building was located. Council confirmed that the city now has control of the property and a plan is being devised for the sidewalks when the ground becomes more stable.

Annual Appointments

Mayor Rohr had prepared a list of annual appointments that were presented to council for approval, and all passed unanimously. Those appointments are: Municipal Judge, Rich Befort; City Attorney, Laurel McClellan, City Treasurer, Rex Zimmerman; City Clerk, Trish Brewer; Fire Chief, Bill Duvall; Asst. Fire Chief, Roger Robison. No Chief of Police was appointed as the city is still accepting applications for review.

Barber County United

Council next heard from Donna Williams, Aimee Williams and Judy Schrock from Barber County United, which is a new organization designed to help county residents with such things as mental health issues, drug addiction and abuse, and other issues to help improve the quality of life for citizens.

The group has received a $254,000 grant from the Kansas Health Foundation over a two-year period and is now working on setting up a non-profit organization. It hopes to set up offices in both Kiowa and Medicine Lodge. The group evolved from a survey by the Barber County Health Coalition that found a need for these services in the county.

Donna Williams said the group wants to give people a “real hand up, not a hand out” to improve the quality of living and health for county residents, and she encouraged a member of the city council to attend their next meeting, June 7, 10:30 a.m. at Grace Bible Fellowship. Council expressed its support for the organization and its goals.

Building Committee Plans

The Building Committee appointed by council to develop plans for remodeling of the new and current city offices presented their overall plans for council’s review. Most members felt the plans were well thought out with City Clerk Trish Brewer answering questions from the group.

The Building Committee and Council will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, May 15, at 8:00 a.m. to review final plans and get them ready to put out for bids.

Power Purchase Agreement

Council next approved Ordinance No. 18-287 for future purchases of electricity from the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency (KMEA). The city currently purchases electricity through KMEA and when its current agreement expires at the end of 2020, it plans to purchase power with NextEra Energy Marketing, LLC, also through KMEA. This agreement will begin in 2021 and will lock in the city energy prices for six years at a very good rate for both regular usage and peak usage. This will allow the city to budget expenses knowing what its electric costs will be for those years, and will also help city electric users by helping keep rates and property taxes stable. It could also help the city attract new residents and businesses, as the city’s rates are already some of the lowest in the region.

Council unanimously voted to pass the agreement.

Third Grade Request

For the second year, the city administrator has been helping teach Becky Buckle’s third grade class about the workings of city government. Mr. Leone told students that there are five ways citizens can participate- by voting, organizing petitions, calling their elected representatives, going to meetings, and talking with professional staff members to help resolve questions.

He said he wanted even third graders to know that “everybody has a voice” and to that end, the third graders made a special request of the council. They asked that council consider installing a trampoline park, and council respectfully took their request under consideration.

Administrator’s Report

City Administrator Lou Leone noted in his report that the Library roof is now fixed and looks great, and a crew from Caterpillar was scheduled to come last week and find and fix the problems with the new generator, which had water in the fuel that did damage. It is all covered by warranty.

He also received permission to hire temporary summer help, subject to recommendation by Street Supt. Gary Johnson, and also received approval from council to put the old police cars out for auction on Purple Wave, a website where police and other vehicles are bought and sold.

Pool To Open On Schedule

Mr. Leone also said the Kiowa Swimming Pool will open on schedule on Memorial Day, May 28, even though the new pool house may not be completed by then. Negotiations with the city’s insurance company delayed progress this winter but the new pool house will be brought up to ADA standards and be better then ever, all paid for by insurance. The foundation for the new shade area on the northwest corner of the pool will also be poured at the same time the pool house foundation is poured.

Also during the meeting, the city administrator showed videos and pictures to council from recent meetings he has attended, and also a video of the poor shape the Police Dept. building was in following the dismissal of the former Police Chief.

In other action, council:

  • Voted to sign a contract with Blue Cross/Blue Shield for health and dental insurance coverage for city employees for another year with no changes in coverage. The premiums are going up 12.6%, the city administrator said, but the city had budged for up to a 20% increase.
  • Designated May 20-26 as Public Works Week and approved a proclamation for the mayor to sign.
  • Discussed check signing procedures with City Attorney Laurel McClellan.
  • Were told that Bob Hays has reimbursed the city for $6,352 for 18 new aluminum tables and carrier for the Community Building. Council thanked Mr. Hays for his generosity.
  • Discussed the recent passage by the Kansas Legislature of a bill to create a Task Force to review the internet grid in Kansas and find area that need improvement in quality and availability, especially in rural areas like Kiowa. The city administrator was one of several persons who had testified before the legislature on the need for such action.
  • Were informed that the city has received a reimbursement from EMC insurance company, which covers the city, for over $9,000 which will be put into the General Fund.

After an executive session, council voted to temporarily expand city employee Ronnie McKitrick’s duties to include animal control, with financial compensation based on the city administrator’s recommendation.

Commencement Sunday for South Barber Seniors

By REX ZIMMERMAN

Thirteen seniors will receive diplomas on Sunday, May 13, as South Barber High School holds Commencement Exercises in the high school gymnasium.

The proceedings get underway at 2:00 p.m.

Honorary junior conductors, Savannah Hughbanks and Taylor Pollock, will lead the seniors to their seats during the Processional, played by Donita Ragan. Ushers will be Haylie Drake and Morgan Polson. High school Principal Brent Shaffer will welcome the students and guests to graduation. He will be followed by the Class President’s address by Slater Blick.

A vocal solo, “The Prayer”, by senior Joseph Bowden will be followed by the Salutatory Address by Idallis Shaffer and the Valedictory Address by Trae Rathgeber.

An entertaining slide show of the senior class throughout their school years will be shown, and Principal Shaffer will then present the class for graduation. Diplomas will be presented by USD 255 Board of Education members Mike Miller and Deb Helfrich.

South Barber Class of 2018 members are: Kadin Allen Banks, Slater Eugene Blick, Joseph Benjamin Bowden, Kobe Alan Carey, Justin Barry McLeod, Eric Costelli Paozin,

Trae Alan Rathgeber, Idallis Shaquiel Shaffer, Kaleigh Lynn Velasquez, Dakota Ray Vickers, Cody Gates Weber, Glenna Maxine Williams and Kylee Brooke Wright.

Be sure to view the Senior Page this week’s print edition.

City to Hold Special Election July 10 on Term Limits

The Kiowa City Council voted 5-0 Monday night to hold a Special Election on Tuesday, July 10, to decide the question on whether the city should have term limits or not. A Charter Ordinance passed earlier this year eliminated the two-term limits that had previously been in place for council and mayor positions, but a valid petition was presented to the council demanding a vote on the issue. Cost for the special election is estimated by the County Clerk’s office to be between $3,500 and $4,500.

Council also approved the mayor’s annual appointments, agreed to join a new group to purchase electricity beginning in 2021 that would lock in the price the city pays for six years, and voted to have city employee Ronnie McKitrick handle animal control duties matters along with his other duties.

Check next week’s newspaper for complete story.

Big Weekend in Kiowa with Pioneer Days, Big Kansas Road Trip and Lots More!

By REX ZIMMERMAN

Kiowa will be buzzing with activity this weekend as the community celebrates Pioneer Days on Saturday along with several other events, including the “Big Kansas Road Trip” scheduled for Thursday through Sunday. While nobody really knows how many travelers from across the state will make it down to Kiowa, the town is ready with lots of shopping opportunities and great restaurants.

Kiowa Chamber of Commerce representative De Coyle also plans to the at the Statue Park at the corner of 4th and Main to present visitors with a replica Land Run Certificate in recognition of the 125th anniversary of the Cherokee Strip Land Run of 1893.

Tennis Tournament Friday

Friday will also find visitors and athletes from across western Kansas coming to Kiowa to attend the 3-2-1A Regional Tennis Tournament, which kicks off at 10:00 a.m. on the local courts. In addition to South Barber, other teams competing are Chaparral, Cimarron, Colby, Meade, Scott Community and Wakeeney-Trego County.

Busy Saturday

There will also be lots of activities downtown on Saturday highlighted by the annual Pioneer Parade at 11:00 a.m. down Main Street. It’s always fun to watch the cowboys drive their herd of steers down the street. For those wanting to watch a bunch of cowboys do their thing, team roping action begins at 1:00 p.m. at Miller Arena, located in the southeast edge of town.

The Pioneer Skit follows the parade at the corner of 7th and Main and is always a lot of fun. Kiowa’s very own “Ropeman” Buddy Williams will also be on hand to teach young and old how to make a rope the way the Pioneers did.

The Kiowa Historical Society will hold a Bake Sale at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Chief Theater. If you are a baker, please help donate items for sale. Drop them off at 9:00 a.m. Historical Society memberships will also be sold that day.

The Kiowa Museum will be open Saturday after the Pioneer Skit. Tickets for the Henry Gold Boy rifle raffle will also be on sale by the Historical Society.

A Model Horse Show will be held Saturday at the Kiowa Senior Center beginning at 9:30 a.m. Model horse lovers are invited to decorate their horses and drop them off Friday evening at the Center from 5-7 p.m. or before 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. Judging will be completed by noon and ribbons will be awarded for Best in Show, Halter Class and Western Class. For more information look up Breyer Model Horse Shows for fun ideas on how to display hour horse or contact De Coyle (580-829-3297) or Amanda Stauffer (580-748-1832).

And if all the above isn’t enough to keep everyone busy, Kiowa is hosting a large Youth Soccer League tournament on Saturday at the high school. Youngsters from throughout the area, along with their parents and grandparents, are expected to attend and hopefully will make it downtown to enjoy the day as well.

It should be a great weekend to enjoy the simple pleasures that life in a small town can offer.

Dr. Andi Williams Resigns as School Superintendent

U.S.D. 255 Board of Education held a special meeting today (Wed.) to accept the resignation of Superintendent of Schools Dr. Andi Williams, effective June 30, 2018. Dr. Williams has accepted a position as Executive Director of Public Affairs and Special Projects for the Wichita Public Schools system. The board also passed a resolution to employ the Kansas Assn. of School Boards to assist in the search for a new school superintendent.

Pioneer Days Rescheduled for Weekend of May 5

Kiowa Chamber of Commerce co-president Janet Robison reports that the Pioneer Days activities scheduled for this weekend. They have been rescheduled for the weekend of May 5. She reported that John Miller had an issue securing livestock for his rodeo events that were planned for Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The weather forecast also calls for rains Friday evening and all day Saturday, which also played a major part in the decision to cancel the celebration. The May 5 weekend will also be the “Big Kansas Roadtrip” weekend, and May 5 will also have Kiowa hosting several Youth Soccer League games, with both events expected to bring many out of town visitors to the community.

5K Run Notice

The Kiowa Labor Day 5K Race is looking for another Race Co-director. Any person(s) interested in this position is asked to call Kent at 309-219-2626.

 

City Council Discusses New Office, Petitions at Special Meeting

By REX ZIMMERMAN

UPDATED 4/4/18: The Kiowa City Council met in special session Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. to handle three items of business. All council members present were present- Bill Watson, R.L. Simpson, Russ Molz, Brian Hill and Tom Wells- along with Mayor Ron Rohr.

City to Join WEDA

In opening business, council approved joining the World Economic Development Alliance (WEDA) for a six month trial period at a cost of $2,900. The alliance, headquartered in Dallas, TX, has contacts throughout the country and world and is focused on promoting and working to find business possibilities for rural areas.

City Administrator Lou Leone said WEDA works as a “job/business broker”. He added that there are two areas he is already looking at- ammunition manufacturers and telemarketing. Councilman Wells said he has seen WEDA’s efforts in Dumas, TX and noted that it seemed to really work well for that community. The city has $14,000 budgeted for economic development since it no longer is a member of the county’s economic development group.

Mr. Leone also said that a new website program has been purchased out of capital improvements fund for the city that will present a better looking site for viewers, including prospective businesses, while making it easier for city staff to keep updated.

New City Office Update

Council visited with John Terwort about the new city office and plans for remodeling. Terwort, who sold the building to the city, said that the closing date on the purchase is April 18, but he requested that council allow him to begin remodeling work on the building immediately as he is scheduled to be gone beginning in mid-May. He hoped he could get as much work done as possible before turning the remainder of the project over to another contractor.

Council gave approval for Mr. Terwort to work with the city administrator on the project to get things rolling. Along with that information, Mr. Leone said that he has already contacted two banks that are interested in financing the purchase and remodeling of the new building as well as the repair and remodel of the present city office, and one more local bank has also shown interest. Council agreed to hold a special meeting on Monday, April 9, at 8:00 a.m. to review a final plan for the city office project.

Petitions Discussed

City Attorney Laurel McClellan next gave council an update on a pair of petitions that were presented to the city.

The first petition was in reference to Ordinance 18-450, which was passed by council in February. That ordinance officially put the hiring and firing of city personnel under  the . Previous to that, the mayor was allowed to hire or fire personnel at will.

Mr. McClellan said that since the ordinance passed by council was a regular ordinance, it was not allowed to be challenged by a public petition, as that method of requesting a public vote is reserved only for charter ordinances.

One charter ordinance that was challenged by petition, however, was Ordinance 18-018, which council also passed in February and does away with the term limit regulation for council and mayor positions.

The city attorney reported that the petition did not meet the proper language requirements. It was not known if another petition would be circulated that meets the requirements. The ordinance is scheduled to go into effect 61 days after its final publication in The Kiowa News, which was February 28.

The city administrator said that he could find no other city of Kiowa’s size (Class 3) that has term limits, and could find only six other cities in the entire state that still have term limits.

In final action, council was informed that health insurance would be a topic of discussion at the April 16 regular meeting, and that the city now controlled the vacant lot at the corner of 7th and Main where the former bowling alley was located, and that groups such as the Chamber of Commerce could now be allowed to use the property.