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McPherson City Commissioners Take Oath of Office for New Terms, City Appoints Britta Erkelenz as Interim City Administrator


By Lucky Kidd


McPHERSON, Kan. — The McPherson City Commission has approved the start of the process to hire a new fire chief. This action comes after Chief TJ Wyssmann was placed on administrative leave; an action made public late last week. Division Operations Chief Seth Graham and Division Chief Matt Kangas are overseeing the fire department until a new chief is hired.

During Tuesday’s meeting the Commission appointed Britta Erkelenz as interim City Administrator effective January 8th, to take over when Daniela Rivas leaves to become City Manager in Newton. Rivas has been filling that role since the departure last fall of Nick Gregory to become City Manager in Maize. Commissioners Gary Mehl and Larry Wiens took their oaths of office for new terms at the start of the meeting.

Commissioners gave approval for the final $2,300 design payment to Hutton for work related to a new police station and approved the annual payment for software used in the Police Department through Caliber Public Safety Colossus for just under $42,000. Also approved was the annual payment to McPherson County covering the city’s portion of E-911 dispatch services, phone systems, and other maintenance and operational costs for the Law Enforcement Center.

Replacement of another shelter house at Lakeside Park was approved. This is the fourth shelter house to be replaced in the park and is being purchased from Happy Playgrounds of Tulsa at a cost of just under $117,000, which includes separate contracts for installation, construction of a concrete slab and footings for it to go on, electrical service, and removal of the existing shelter.

The commission approved purchase of 23 trees from a Wichita firm for Lakeside Park as part of a tree master plan adopted last spring. Johnson’s Garden Center’s $5,000 bid was the lowest of four received, $2,000 of which is being paid for through memorial donations. Allocation of funds was made to purchase merchandise for resale at the Turkey Creek Golf Course clubhouse and start of the hiring process for seasonal staff at Turkey Creek, the Water Park, and for parks and the cemetery.

The Commission Tuesday approved purchase of a new mower from Hometown Outdoor Power of McPherson for the public lands and facilities Department. The Grasshopper mower is being purchased at a state contract price of just $19,611. This will replace a 2019 mower which will be disposed of via online auction. Commissioners also approved payment of a nearly $4,700 invoice to Jim’s Plumbing and Heating for plumbing repairs and assorted maintenance in the bathhouse of the Water Park.

Multiple items related to operations at the Wastewater Treatment Plant were approved, including annual contracts related to required annual and quarterly testing along with those connected with farming operations on WWTP land including disposal of biosolids. The commission also accepted the resignation of an operator in training at the plant and the start of the hiring process for a replacement. Commissioners also approved the 2024 sidewalk maintenance program and purchase of cold and hot mix patching and paving materials.

Revisions to the 2024 fee resolution adopted last week were approved. This involved some slight adjustments to golf course and water park fees from what was originally approved. The Commission also set labor and equipment rates for Public Works for this year, with minimal changes made from 2023 rates.

Commissioners heard a report on five visitor attraction grants approved by the Convention and Visitor Board, four of which are for events this month and one in April.

The Commission also approved a change in the meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 16 to Monday, Jan. 15.

Lucky at Jan. 2 City of McPherson Meeting
During the public input session, Ad Astra Radio’s Lucky Kidd shares Jan. 4 will be the 75th anniversary of 1540, (what is now KMCP). Ad Astra Radio is hosting the weekly Chamber Connection at the office located at 411 E. Euclid St. at 9:30 AM. (Screenshot from City of McPherson Local Gov. Facebook)