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Lyons City Council Approves Employment Agreement with New City Administrator


By Lucky Kidd


LYONS, Kan. — A new city administrator could be in place in Lyons within two months or sooner. The Lyons City
Council last night approved an employment agreement with Eddy Truelove. Truelove would succeed
Chad Buckley, who resigned from that position May 1.

Truelove is currently City Administrator in Neodesha in southeast Kansas, a position he’s held since
2015. Prior to that he spent three years as City Administrator in Greensburg, before which he was Chief of Police
in Sterling for four and a half years.

Mayor Dustin Schultz said Truelove’s current contract with Neodesha has a 45 day notice clause to
leave that city’s employment. Schultz indicated there is a potential he could be released from his contract
sooner, but that is not certain though.

The contract with Truelove calls for an initial annual salary of $120,000. He would also receive a bi-
weekly health insurance allowance in lieu of receiving city provided health insurance as he has coverage with an
established premium as a military retiree.

Following a lengthy discussion, the Council voted to send back to the Planning Commission for further
consideration the recommendation last month to deny a zoning change requested by Jr. Briseno requesting a
change in zoning for a property on East 5th, adjacent to land to the south he owns in the city’s industrial park from
two family residential to industrial. Briseno is proposing to construct an RV storage facility on this property.

Several residents in the area objected to this proposal, claiming it would amount to spot zoning and
expressing concern about other uses that could be permitted under I-2 zoning, same as the property he owns to
the south. The general opinion of opponents is this property should retain residential zoning. One opponent who
owns a nearby property said he intends to build a home on that property, although that could be several years off.

During discussion, the Council indicated a desire for more specific reasons as to why the Planning
Commission on a 3-1 vote with one abstention and two members absent recommended denial of the request.
No reasons for the denial were stated in the minute of that meeting provided to the council.

The remand to the Planning Commission asked to specifically review the historical use of property in
that area, what houses currently exist, and to also consider economic development factors. They are also being
asked to consider potential benefits the zoning change would provide as it relates to having a place to store
recreational vehicles and such that the city is seeking to get out of other residential areas in the city.

Another item that was the subject of much discussion was related to the approval of street
closings and other requests connected with September’s Fair on the Square and Car & Truck Show. While the
requests were approved, it was with a condition that food trucks wanting to set up during the fair obtain required
permits from the city by Sept. 1.

Although this is a requirement in city codes, a number of Council members questioned whether this
would impact the many local non-profit groups that have food stands during the events. City Counselor Melissa
Miller was asked to review city codes on this subject.

The Council voted to rescind a $75,000 Moderate Income Housing Grant received from the Kansas
Housing Resources Corporation in 2019. After the grant, which was intended to provide down payment
assistance for builders of new homes on designated lots in the Quivira Heights subdivision was awarded, the city
was working with a developer to construct three homes under this grant.

It was shortly after this the COVID-19 pandemic began which led to a major spike in the cost of
construction supplies, which led the developer to back out of an arrangement with the city. At this point, grant
administration was set aside by the then city staff.

When Alicia Hommon became Community Development Coordinator last November, the MIH grant was
re-visited, and over the past seven months she has been in discussion with KHRC on how best to proceed. After
a July 17 meeting that included interim City Administrator Howard Partington, it was determined the best option
going forward was to rescind the grant and re-evaluate housing needs and construction cost trends.

In that discussion, it was also indicated there are new programs out there that might better address
housing needs in Lyons including moderate income housing.

The Council agreed to transfer ownership of a Land Bank-owned property at 523 West Avenue North to
an adjoining landowner who has been maintaining the property for some time. The property was at one time
owned by Habitat for Humanity of Rice County, which subsequently deeded it back to the Land Bank. In light of
the fact the adjoining property owner has been maintaining it so the city would not have to, the council agreed to
waive the usual fee for the property.

In other action items, the Council approved the grant agreement for a new hangar and related taxiway at
Lyons-Rice County Airport and approved bond payments due Sept. 1 for Quivira Heights infrastructure
and for the City Hall/Library complex.

Partington gave the Council an update on dangerous and unsafe structures. After a review of properties
that could meet that category, and a review of past actions by Miller, it was found required steps in the process
were not always followed in the past. With that, the city will begin from scratch the process, which will include
having inspections done by the company the city is now contracting with for building inspection services.

Partington also presented assignment lists for Council members and staff as part of the OPEN program
he presented at the July 17 meeting, where they will begin visiting businesses in Lyons to learn more about
what they do and get input on how the city can best support them, and reported on a review of the city’s
insurance coverage to ensure everything that needs to be covered is and at the proper level.

After Council members gave Mayor Schultz recommendations for a person to represent the city of Lyons
on a committee that will review community grants for Rice County Community Foundation’s new Community
Fund, Schultz said he will begin contacting those persons to see if they would be interested in serving on the
committee, with one of those suggested to be contacted first.

Park Superintendent Matt Detmer reported on the end of the 2023 pool season, which generally went
well. Detmer said plans are to paint the pool starting later this month. Work on the water slides and mushroom
feature will be delayed until he can identify and locate the proper paint to be used for those items. He indicated
the company that built the pool in 2010 is no longer in business.

Public Works Director Jared Jones gave the council a report on an inspection of the public water supply
system by KDHE July 26 in which no major problems were found and discussions on options to get better
usage and performance out of the oxigators at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Jones said work is beginning on the last sector of the city for cleanup from the July 14 windstorm, and
lower traffic control lights at the Main and East Avenue intersection damaged in that storm have been replaced.
Partington noted there is the potential, not certain at this point, that a number of recent severe weather events
could be combined to obtain disaster funding. Partington was contacted by State Senator Rick Wilborn about
this and discussions are ongoing.