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Nortonville Council OK's raise for trainee

The Oskaloosa Independent of Oskaloosa, Kansas

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The Nortonville City Council gave its consent to rewarding the City Superintendent-in-training with a slight pay increase when it met the evening of Oct. 13 at City Hall.

The move had the approval of council members Raymond Brown, Steve Belveal, Troy Frost, Brad Noll and Alan Barnes and came on the heels of a 15-minute executive session held for the stated purpose of discussing personnel matters relating to non-elected personnel. Present for the closed-door discussion, in addition to Brown, Belveal, Frost, Noll and Barnes, were Mayor Edward "Pete" Scott, City Clerk Barb Poison and City Superintendent Larry Pruett.

As a result of the council's action, having been on the job for more than 45 days now, City Superintendent-in-training Steve Pruett will be receiving an additional 50 cents per hour in compensation. Pruett, by the way, is Larry Pruett's son.

The executive session was one of two that took place during the meeting, which adjourned shortly before 9. The other had as participants Jayne Coleman, president and chief executive officer of Kendall State Bank, Valley Falls, Kristina Edwards, the bank's vice president and branch manager, and Jeff Weishaar, in addition to the council and mayor. Weishaar, who is not a bank employee, was allowed to remain in the room for the closed-door discussion, which ultimately lasted a total of 25 minutes and was ostensibly held to protect the confidentiality of financial information, in this case that of the bank.

In fact, the executive session was immediately preceded by the reading of the following words, "Confidential data relating to the financial affairs or trade secrets of corporations, partnerships, trusts, and individual proprietorships," by one of the coun-cilmen to provide a reason for the need for privacy. The same words, by the way, appear in "A Citizen's Guide to KOMA/KORA" in connection with the seven general topics that can be discussed privately by public officials under the Kansas Open Meetings Act. The 24-page publication was prepared by the office of the Kansas Attorney General.

KORA stands for Kansas Open Records Act.

During the discussion that occurred before the executive session, Weishaar was identified as being the former owner of the property at 522 Main that was damaged by fire in early June, as was the bank's branch office at 520 Main and Mimi's Main Street Restaurant at 524 Main. According to Coleman, Weishaar purchased the properties at 522 Main and 524 Main from Travis Ray and had the one-story structure at 522 Main torn down, then sold the vacant lot to the bank. She praised him for the move, a move she regarded as community-minded in nature, indicating that his actions put the bank in a position of being able to do something with the lot.

A check with the office of the Jefferson County Register of Deeds on Monday morning revealed that the warranty deed conveying the property at 522 Main from Weishaar to the bank was filed Oct. 7, six days before the council's scheduled meeting.

Coleman informed the council and mayor that the bank plans to construct a drive-through facility on the site. She also pointed out that a utility pole located in the middle of an alley, a pole owned by Topeka-based Westar Energy, would need to be moved so the project could commence. Finally, she expressed some concern over the drainage in and around that immediate area.

Poison advised Coleman that the bank would be required to obtain a building permit prior to adding on to its branch office.

Coleman told the council and mayor that the cause of the fire remains under investigation but that the bank has been given the go-ahead to have repairs made to the branch office as needed. She said she thought the bank would be ready to begin getting things back in order as much as possible by Nov. 1.

In a related matter, the city clerk reported that she had spoken with Ernie Noll regarding the status of the two-story brick building at 528 Main and he suggested that the city's attorney, John Kurth, get in touch with a man by the name of Pat Henderson. Aside from his name, she had no other information about Henderson.

Noll and his wife, Alice, operated The Hop, a restaurant, on the first floor of the building until the structure partially collapsed in early March.

Later in the meeting, the council asked the city clerk to contact the city attorney and have him make the necessary inquiries to learn more about the status of both the building at 528 Main and the one directly southeast of it at526 Main.

In reply to a question posed to her, the city clerk told the council that she had not received an engineering report on the building at 528 Main.

Poison gave the council and mayor a quick report on the city's financial situation three-fourths of the way through the year. "Everything appears to be status quo pretty much," she commented.

The city clerk reported that she had not received any additional money from the owners of the dilapidated houses at 422 Taggart and 520 Taggart that were demolished earlier this year, to reimburse the city, at least in part, for the expenses it incurred in removing the two structures.

In response to a question, the city clerk informed the council that she hoped to have "a rough draft" of a revised version of the city's code book in her possession by the time the council meets in November.

There was a brief discussion about possible uses for the money in the Ralph Gerety memorial fund, money donated to the city to help fund improvements to the city park. There is roughly $700 in the "pot," if you will.

Gerety, who died Feb. 7, was a longtime resident of the Nortonville area.

Filling in for Chief of Police Mike Henning, who was on vacation, police officer Tom Ryan told the council that he had conferred with Henning and was informed by him that he "had nothing to report."

Pruett's monthly report, on the other hand, had a little more to it. "We did get the streets done and I thought they (Mid-America Road Builders Inc.) did a really good job," he told the council.

The council and mayor silently reviewed the latest report from the Board for the Public Library.

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Original Publication Date: October 22, 2015

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