Osage City Council discusses drainage issues after recent rains

OSAGE CITY—The Osage City Council addressed citizen’s concerns following recent significant rainfall events. The first happening prior to the May 24 meeting.

“We had a 4.5 inch of rain in a short part of time,” said Fred Hallowell, street superintendent. “It seems every 10 years of cycle, we have a flood like this.”

Hallowell said the problem most recently arose in 2007, prior to last month.

“I went ahead and got some pricing from a contractor for concrete ready-made boxes to set in,” Hallowell said. “Basically, each bridge is around $75,000. You figure E Street, C Street, 15th, 14th, Brant – we’re over half a million dollars.

“Being as it’s a flood plan, you have to have an engineer to do it,” Hallowell said. “Between cleaning the ditch, bridges and all, if you get an engineer involved, you’re probably talking about $700,000. Before you build them, and send all that water downstream, you’ve got to have it stamped. You’re probably looking at $160,000 in engineering.”

Clyde Jackson, resident of northeast Osage City, known as Dog Town, commented on the issue.

“I’ve been there 44 years, and it’s been a problem for the last 20,” Jackson said. “They put a tube at the airport and that drains the airport and the army reserve. That just about doubled the water down there since they did that.”

Jackson noted previous studies, which he provided to city.

“Kramer’s studied this 20 years ago, and nothing has been done the last 20 years,” said Rod Willis, city manager. “They spent a lot of money on it. If something had been done every year, a little bit, we wouldn’t be in the area we are now.”

Quentin Robert, mayor, noted that the issue was also tied to several other issues before the city.

“It’s not that this isn’t important, there’s lots of demands for the same period,” Robert said. “When you go through a dry period, it slides back, because it’s not happening. Now we’re probably heading into a wet season again.”

“Is there anyway we can work on things, as a city?” Rowe said. “When we get time, pull some gravel out of the ditches, we cut some stuff when it dries a bit.”

“We can do some of that, sure,” Hallowell said.

“We need to look at something, start at the lowest point and work our way uphill,” said Dale Schwieger, council member. “Whatever the city has to do to minimize the effect. We need to start someplace. There’s more problems than just there.”

“I think it’ll have to be a group effort between us, township, county, the airport,” said Bruce Schoepflin, council member.

He asked about city’s legal responsibility.

“You’re going to try and correct something that has fairly flat ground, that’s doesn’t have flowage until there’s high water, that’s going to have to be tough,” said Rick Godderz, city attorney. “You’re going to have to have an engineer to design and control that.”

The council directed Rod Willis, city manager, to speak with the county commission.

“Could you reach out to them and see if we could start a conversation?” asked Robert.

Hallowell said crossings downstream were operated by the county and townships.

“If it’s over 25 cubic foot of outlet, then the county get’s involved,” Hollowell said. “It’s all money. It’s a lot of money.”

“Unfortunately, we turned away a lot of money with the trail project that was going to address some of that drainage issue down there,” said Becky Brewer, council member. “There went a pile of money we could have used for that.”

“Is that money still available?” Gail Lohmeyer, councilmember, asked.

“No,” Schwieger said. “We’d have to reapply.”

“Could that be a possibility?” Lohmeyer asked.

“Possibility, but probably not,” Robert said.

The council continued to discuss engineering and issues.

“I understand the problem, I’m not making light of the importance, but we also have a $2 million sewage collection problem, a $6 million sewage treatment problem, how many miles of road…it’s not mathematically possible to keep up with the roads. I want to be aware, I want to be cognoscente, I want to do what ever we can do, but I don’t want to put a false home out there. The sewers are every single day, twenty-four-seven. The streets are used daily.”

“I think if Fred and the guys can address some of the issues, especially if there’s buildup,” Schwieger said. “Just to help alleviate the issue of holding water.”

“We need a comprehensive plan,” Robert said.

The council again directed Willis to talk to the county, and Hallowell to continued to look at what improvements could be made.

“It’s something we’re going to have to work forward for,” Schwieger said.

Osage City Fair

Representatives of the Osage City Osage County Fair visited the council to thank them for their support and provide information of the upcoming fair, scheduled for June 29 through July 2.

“This council does a fine job of supporting those types of events,” said Jeff Pearson, fair board member. “We have quite a few different events at the fair this year. We want to make it something for anyone and everyone.”

Pearson noted usual events and schedule of the fair, with 4-H registration beginning Wednesday and the start of the carnival Thursday.

“We have multiple events which have not been here before,” Pearson said. “Chef Alley from WIBW will be here for a cooking demonstration, which she will be making with produce provided through the fair. Saturday evening, we will, for the first time, be having a barn dance and beer garden in the Fredrickson Pavilion, followed by the fireworks.”

Review of April events

Council also heard reports from event organizers of the Smoke in the Spring Barbecue Completion and surrounding events.

“In spite of a 15 mile per hour wind that was blowing straight across the runway, we got about nine planes,” said Mike Handley, Wings in the Spring organizer. “They had about 34 riders for young eagles flights, and had at least three or four people that came from pretty far way.”

Handley said several pilots who visited took advantage of shuttles to the downtown car show. Jeanette Swartz, organizer of the Cruis’n and Cook’n car show, gave a report on that event.

“The interest has increased over the past few years,” Swartz said. “Our first show in 2005, we had 140 cars. This year we had 325. The spectator participation has increased, too.”

She also stressed the advantages of moving downtown, which has hosted the car show the past three years, both in providing asphalt for the cars, and crowds for downtown businesses.

“Moving downtown has been a great bonus,” Swartz said. “It’s been a positive aspect.”

Corey Linton, Osage City parks and recreation director, finished off with a rundown of the Smoke in the Spring contest, which is run and sponsored, in part, by the city.

“This year we had 110 total teams for the event, which was by far the most we have ever had,” Linton said. “On Friday, we had our Taste of Osage City, which had teams turn in over $21,000 in BBQ Bucks. There was a lot of food bought in a very short period of time.”

The event packed the Osage City fairgrounds for a night of public activities, followed by one of the largest barbecue competitions in the country.

“It was just a sea of people,” Linton said.

Linton ran down several parts of the event, including live music, vending, inflatable toys and local sponsorship.

“We had teams from 12 different states – Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin – we event had a gentleman come out and cook from New York,” Linton said.

He stressed the community aspects of the event, and how that draws teams to the event.

“Looks like it’s getting closer to breaking even,” said Robert, referring to past discussions of the event budget

“I got close to $5,000 additional revenue this year,” Linton said. “ I really was much more self conscious. I firmly believe in advertising, what you put into it is what you get out of it. We’ve been able to get the attention of Shawnee County.”

He said that increase attendance helps continue the success of the event.

Dale Schwieger, council member, commented on the weekend of events.

“An overall event for the city is a win,” Schwieger said. “To build on it and make it better is the best thing we can do.”

In other business, the council:

• presented Resolution No. 1001, recognizing the Osage City High School Class 3A State Championship Boy’s Basketball team.

• received an invitation to the chamber meetings from Swartz, Osage City Chamber of Commerce director.

•  approved $9,980 to upgrade from an oil bath filter to a dry-type element filter, in conjunction with a new silencer, catalyst upgrade for generator No. 4 at the power plant.

• lifted the moratorium on blight related housing issues in the city. The city previously addressed around four vacated houses per year, all of which were considered unlivable. Properties listed included to begin addressing including 638 Prospect and 230 Holiday, which were still condemned from previous proceedings. The council followed the city attorney’s advice to re-initiate the process on the existing properties.

• heard an update on the upcoming budget from the Katie Hodge, city treasurer.

• approve selling .94 acres near the Osage City Airport to the Kansas Department of Transportation for $2,053 dollars.

• conducted a five-minute executive session for the acquisition of property.

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