There was a changing of the guard at the Dec. 3 Wellington City Council meeting with a new mayor and three new city council members being sworn in.

Near the end of the meeting, newly elected city council members Robert Hamilton, Guy Leitch and Mike Westmoreland were sworn into office by Wellington City Clerk Carol Mericle. Longtime city council member Jim Valentine was sworn in as the new mayor, assuming the office formerly held by Shelley Hansel. 

Hamilton, Leitch and Westmoreland are filling council seats formerly held by Kip Etter, Kelly Hawley and Valentine. Etter and Hawley, neither of whom ran for another term, were not at the meeting. Valentine had served the maximum amount of terms as a city council member.

Hamilton, in his first comment before the council said, “I’m looking forward to listening and learning. I don’t come here with an agenda,” adding that he wanted to make all decisions objectively.

Council member Joe Soria advised the newly sworn council members to visit every city department and to see how they operate and what their needs are.

“It’s a good education for the new members,” Soria said. “It will open your eyes.”

Outgoing Mayor Hansel thanked Susana Salter, who was the first elected female mayor in the United States in 1887, serving in Argonia. Becoming emotional, Hansel said, “I was the first female mayor of Wellington.

“Leadership is an activity. It’s not a position. Thank you for letting me be your mayor.”

Prior to the transitions in leadership, the council held a regular meeting. Most notably during the meeting, the council approved a resolution authorizing the City Manager Shane Shields to sign an agreement with Wichita State University for the development of a strategic plan for an amount not to exceed $27,300.

WSU’s Public Policy and Management Center (PPMC) will develop the five-year strategic plan, which Shields said is “to give the city and staff goals to work toward the future.”

The city council would like to appoint a Strategic Planning Steering Committee. The committee will consist of seven or nine individuals and meet approximately four times through the development process of the plan, which is estimated to be completed around May of 2020.

Anyone interested in serving on the committee is asked to contact the City Manager’s office by Dec. 13. The phone number is 620-326-3631. The email address is shaneshields@cityofwellington.net. A list of citizens willing to serve will be presented to the City Council at its Dec. 17 meeting. From there, members will be appointed to the steering committee. The committee’s first meeting will take place shortly after the new year.

In other business:

The council approved a resolution authorizing the City Manager to sign a purchase and sale contract with BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) Railway Company for the replacement of First Street property from approximately Fair Street to Cherry Street. 

“The relocation is necessary for BNSF to accomplish an expansion of the BNSF railroad yard,” Shields wrote in a memorandum to the mayor and city council.

The council authorized the city manager to execute an agreement with Cleary Building of Wellington for the design and construction of a new shop and office for the Cemetery Dept.

The existing buildings are old and need a lot of repairs, Wellington Director of Public Works Jeremy Jones told the council.

Bid requests were sent to 10 contractors and only three bids were received - all of them over the $150,000 budgeted for the project in 2019. Jones explained that the cemetery reserve fund would be “zeroed out” but additional money could be taken from other funds.

The council authorized the city manager to execute an agreement with Cillessen and Sons, of Kechi, for the permanent striping of the Eighth and G Street intersection at $22,842.

The board elected Soria council president. Kevin Dodds was voted to serve on the Memorial Auditorium Board, Leitch nominated Hamilton to serve on the Park Board, and Westmoreland will serve on the Alcohol and Drug Advisory Board. By state statute, Valentine, as mayor, will serve on the Wellington Public Library Board.