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Chicken Issue Readdressed at Lyons City Council Meeting


By Lucky Kidd


LYONS, Kan. — The Lyons City Council Monday approved a fleet management agreement with Enterprise that will allow for replacement of 12 vehicles, with six for the Police Department approved earlier. The city has been in discussions with Enterprise for the past couple of months as a means to update the city’s vehicle fleet which in many cases is old and in relatively poor condition.

Two of the vehicles will be for the Park Department, with one for the Cemetery, one a staff vehicle at city hall, and the remaining vehicles for the Public Works Department. Total annual cost under the lease cost under the agreements comes to $206,424 for the first two years, and $228,732 for years 3-5, with the 2024 cost to be somewhat less due to starting mid-year. The Council also agreed to add maintenance services to the agreement, authorizing up to $150,000 for 2024 expenditures under the agreement.

The issue of Chickens came back up during the public comment portion of the meeting when a petition with 125 signatures was submitted by Brooks Clark of Lyons asking the council to reverse a decision made at the April 5th meeting to not approve an ordinance to allow chickens to be kept in Lyons.

In prepared remarks, Clark said the movement to “buy local, grow local and eat local” has become increasingly popular, especially given the current economic situation where a dozen eggs costs around $3 a dozen. He also reviewed some past history about people growing eggs, which during World War I was actually considered a patriotic duty.

In addition to addressing some of the concerns raised about chickens, Clark also questioned the motivation of Cal-Maine Foods, whose concerns about disease was a major factor in the Council’s decision. Clark, who said there has only been 20 positive cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza over the past two years, just one so far this year, asked if their real motivation is they are scared to lose their stranglehold and near monopoly, as he put it, as the nation’s leading egg supplier.

As per the Council’s usual procedure, no action was taken on the request.

The Council accepted a bid from Wray and Sons Roofing of Hutchinson for roof repairs at City Hall.

Wray and Sons submitted the only bid for the project at $12,690, which involves replacement of all scuppers on the roof to aid in drainage, which will address a leakage issue in the city administrator’ office where carpet and ceiling tiles have been discolored.

A $15,000 bid was accepted from Johnson Roll-Off LLC of Lyons for demolition of structures at 215 West 3rd and 415 East Lauderbach. Johnson had the lowest of three bids submitted, all coming from Rice County firms. The Council also accepted a bid from Justin Holliday for mowing of vacant lots and those where weed abatement notices are not dealt with. A second bid was also received, but there was concern about whether the bidder, whose proposal was much lower than Holliday’s bid, realized what was really involved in doing this work.

The Council accepted a quote from LED Lighting Solutions from Temecula, California of just over $14,000 including freight for purchase of four new solar-powered pedestrian crossing signals. These signals are of the rapid flashing type and are push-button activated.

These will be located near Park Elementary School, at the corner of Main and West Avenue next to the City Hall/Library complex, at Grand and Taylor and Grand and Washington. This purchase is being funded through a grant the city was awarded from the Rice County Community Foundation, with plans to also replace lights in school crossing zones.

The Council agreed to a proposal to replace the hardware mounted on light poles in the downtown area on which Veterans Banners are displayed. Mr. and Mrs. Pat Briggs have offered to fund the installation of new mounting brackets to allow two banners to be hung from each pole rather than one as is now the case. They would be similar to the banners used in McPherson and would allow more banners to be displayed.

On a 6-1 vote with Debbie Metzger opposed, the Council denied a request from former Council member Cecil Burdette to waive meter fees for a water line to a dog park he developed, and for which an RCCF grant was awarded for a drinking fountain. Council members expressed concern about setting a precedent by approving the request, along with concerns about future maintenance.

In his report, City Administrator Eddy Truelove said the city has been notified by the Environmental Protection Agency an administrative order regarding the city’s Water Emergency Plan has been rescinded based on information provided by the city.

Annual evaluation of city employees has been completed by department heads, with the department head evaluations done by Truelove and Mayor Dustin Schultz. The city’s 2024 budget allowed for an overall merit pay pool of three percent, with an annualized pay increase of around $27,500, or approximately $18,000 for the remainder of 2024.

Truelove discussed with the Council a situation that has arisen with the Boy Scout Cabin, which is on city property and was constructed by the Kiwanis Club in 1948. Truelove was notified recently the insurance on the building is not being renewed. He noted it’s not completely clear who exactly owns the building, but he has been in contact with the city’s insurance carrier to look at options to make sure there is some coverage on the building with the storm season coming up.

A presentation on issues with the Wastewater Treatment Plant is expected to come to the Council at one of their May meetings. Truelove said when that happens will depend on when a consent order is issued from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. In the meantime, there are some steps in the works to address issues with the plant, which went “septic” in the fall of 2022.

The Council approved four proclamations during the meeting, one of which was for Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month. Speaking in support of that proclamation was James Iverson, who presented a similar proclamation in 2023 and noted Celebration Centre promoted it on their signage along US 56. Iverson, who was recently named to the Board of Directors of the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, noted the increased use of motorcycles, including by younger persons and observations he has made about their safe riding practices.

Other proclamations adopted were for Child Abuse Prevention Month, which gained added attention after a trial last week in Rice County District Court; for Fair Housing Month; and for Arbor Day which is part of the city’s Tree City USA designation.

At the conclusion of the meeting the Council had a discussion on code enforcement activity, and claims by some citizens that enforcement has only happened since the city contracted with a firm to provide inspection and other services. It was noted that what is being enforced are codes that have already been on the books.