Adam Catlin
Wellington Daily News
The new council members stepped up to the plate last Tuesday night for their first full-length meeting.  Council member Kip Etter was sick, but all others were present and accounted for.  
In their opening remarks, Jim Valentine singled out Fire Chief Hay, saying he “does an incredible job,” and telling the audience and fellow council members to “thank them (fire department) in your heart.”
Joe Soria used his time to express his concerns about the work being done at the intersection of 12th and Washington to redo the water line.  Soria noted that it was the “third time they have been there.”  Still, he appreciated their work, saying his “hat is off to the street department.”
Soria also enquired about who was responsible for ice removal for the roundabout.  Jeremy Jones said it “was the city’s responsibility.  There is a new technique we have not implemented yet.  Brine spray.  It calls for rain first, so we have not had a chance to do it yet.  If it just snows, we can take care of that.  KDOT did some sanding and salting for some of it.”
Kevin Dodds took his turn to mention that it was cold on New Year’s Day. He noticed a neighbor had ice on the curb, and that the meter was full of water.  He gave a “shout out to the water department for coming out.  They had been out since 4 a.m. the previous morning.”
Dodds also had the privilege of attending his first airport advisory meeting.  He “learned a lot.”  He “hadn’t been out to the airport for a long time.  It was nice getting out there and seeing it again.”
In her own remarks, Mayor Hansel asked to pass along “how much we appreciate all city employees  who are doing their work out in the cold.”
City Manager Shields spoke on the runway project, said “it is going well.   The sewer system is being worked on.  We have not been able to pressure test due to the cold weather.  However, it is behind schedule due to the cold weather.  We are a few days behind.”
The council quickly tackled the issue of the two vacant houses that were on the agenda.  Jeremy Jones reported that the property at 624 W. Third is currently owned by Clayton Sprague of Caldwell.  He had been given six months to bring the structure up to code, but the city has not received any further contact.  No interior inspection has been possible, but the roof, siding, and foundation do need repaired.  There had been a tax sale that occurred in late 2016/early 2017.  The property has not been active for utilities since August 2014.  A letter was sent to Sprague in October, attempting to notify him of this hearing.  It is unknown if he received this letter.  
Attention then moved to the property at 824 S. C.  Jones mentioned the utilities have not been active since July 2015.  There are back taxes and a number of code violations for the outside property condition.
There was an interior inspection done in October 2015, finding a leaky roof with plenty of water damage.  There was no further communication after this date.  Required letters have been sent, along with newspaper announcements, but no one has stepped forward to communicate.  
The council moved swiftly to pass a resolution giving a fixed time of 30 days to have the owners make the structures safe.  If they are not fixed within that time frame, bids would be set to have the structures demolished or removed.  All council members voted to approve the measures.  
In other business, the council also approved the purchase of an ambulance at a cost of $209,200.  This was budgeted for this year and is replacing a 2008 model. Fire Chief Tim Hay said the one being replaced is having to have a lot of repairs made.  He said this is a planned purchase and part of the strategic plan. The city gets $243,000 each year from the county as a subsidy for the fire and ambulance service based on population. They are purchasing the ambulance from Osage Ambulance of St. Louis, Missouri.
Valentine said “We can’t skimp on public safety.  It is a good investment.  We need to go with this.”
The city also passed a resolution for financing part of the purchase, choosing to go with a local bank at a slightly higher interest rate. Bank of Commerce was given the bid for financing all but $50,000 of the cost. Over a five-year period it will cost the city $151 more, or about $2.50 a month, to go with the local bank.