The Newton City Commission met at 7 p.m. Sept. 12 at Newton City Hall.
1. Mike Estep
Mike Estep, a member of the Newton Fire/EMS team, was recognized for his work in disaster recovery in the Houston area following Hurricane Harvey.
Estep was one of 42 swift water specialists from Kansas who went to the Houston area. Estep and his group performed water search and rescue of Buffalo Bayou. The group worked 12-hour shifts, searching 4,000 structures and evacuating more than 100 people.
“It was very humbling, it nugged on your heart a little bit being there with the people,” Estep said. “… People appreciated we were there, and that was very humbling.”
Returning on Sept. 4, Estep noted there were a lot of thumbs up, hugs and hand shakes of gratitude on the way back and while he was just happy to do his part, after seeing the situation first-hand he knows there is much more that could be done.
This was the first time the Kansas team, of which Newton is a member, deployed out of state.
2. Put the events policy into effect
This fall the city created and passed an events fee policy — establishing fees that will be paid by event organizers for events serving alcohol, requiring security and private events asking for city services.
When the policy was initially passed, the commission did not set a date for the policy to go into effect. The commission set that date as Jan. 1, 2018.
3. A federal
City staff is applying for a grant, with the assistance of the Newton Police Department, to purchase radios for two new members of the Drug Task Force.
The grant would, if approved, be for up to $11,000 from the Department of Justice to purchase the radios. The project budget requests about $380 from the city to cover uncovered expenses of the radio purchase.
The county currently does not have enough radios to issue new ones for the task force. The commission approved moving forward with the grant application.
4. Boy scouts
A Newton Boy Scout troupe showed up in number and in uniform, receiving a welcome from the Mayor and a mention by commissioner Leroy Koehn.
The boys were working a communications merit badge and watched the city commission meeting as part of that work.
5. Eminent domain
The city of Newton is moving forward with land acquisition to construct a new water tower on West First Street, replacing the oldest water storage tank owned by the city.
This week the city commission approved filing condemnation papers for tracts of land owned by BNSF and NorTrack — an attempt to cut through bureaucratic red tape with the railroad as the city attempts to negotiate the purchase property and create access easements.
For more on the water tower replacement and eminent domain, see the Sept. 14 print edition of the Kansan.