Eudora Mayor Tim Reazin, Commissioner Ruth Hughs and Ben Terwilliger
At the Eudora City Commission meeting on Monday night (September 14), Eudora Mayor Tim Reazin honored his colleague Ruth Hughs, for her accomplishment serving as the first female Mayor in Eudora, Kansas’ history. Mayor Reazin presented ex-Mayor and current City Commissioner Hughs with a picturesque shadowbox commemorating Hugh’s tenure as Mayor. The shadowbox contains a lovely gold inscription, a photo of Hughs and the gavel used by Hughs during her tenure as Mayor from 2013-2014.
The shadowbox was next presented by Mayor Reazin to Ben Terwilliger, the Executive Director of the Eudora Community Museum. The shadowbox has been added to the museum’s historical collections and is already on display in a prominent location in the Eudora Community Museum as a means to honor Hughs’ achievement. Based on the historical records owned by the Eudora Community Museum, it is estimated that Hughs was Eudora’s 48th Mayor. That means all 47 Mayors before Hughs were men. Hughs’ tenure as Mayor reflects a changing society where more and more opportunities are becoming available for all people. Hughs is a groundbreaker, a pioneer because she was the first female Mayor, and it’s safe to assume, she won’t be the last either.
Close-up of the shadowbox
Assistant to the City manger Barack Matite and Parks & Rec Director Gary Scott hold the ribbon in place for the ceremony dedicating the new walking trail along Church Street. Cutting the ribbon are (l-r: Sunflower Foundation Program Officer Elizabeth Sewart, School Board members Joe Hurla, Belinda Rehmer, Joe Pyle, and City Commission members Jolene Born and Tim Reazin. Photo by Eudorareporter.com reporter Diane Chrislip)
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A group of people braved the brisk temperatures and occasional raindrops to attend the ribbon cutting for the Eudora South Trail, a paved walkway that winds gracefully along Church Street in front of the middle school and high school.
The trail was made possible due to a generous grant from Sunflower Foundation along with the collaborative efforts of the City of Eudora and the Eudora School District.
“This is a great start to our master park and trail plan,” said City Commission member Tim Reazin. “I hope this leads to a walkway across K-10 to connect the city north and south and provide a safe pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists.”
Eudora Mayor Ruth Hughs said the idea for a trail began in January 2012 when a committee began meeting to develop a recreation master plan. The input from the public indicated a great interest in additional trails and parks in Eudora. The Eudora South Trail is the result of efforts on the part of a multitude of citizens and city leaders. One of the goals in the master plan is to eventually have trails and sidewalks connecting all parts of Eudora.
Both Eudora District Superintendent Don Grosdidier and Eudora Recreation Director Gary Scott are struck by the number of people who already walk, jog or bicycle on the trail every day.
“Before the trail was even finished people were walking on it,” City Manager Mike Press said.
“It’s going to be very pretty,” Hughs said of the trail and the recently planted trees along it. “It will add to the aesthetics of our town.”
School board member Joe Pyle was especially impressed by the teamwork between the school district and the city.
“This trail will enhance the quality of life for all the citizens of Eudora,” Pyle said.
City Commissioner Jolene Born expressed much appreciation to Sunflower Foundation for the grant and for their support of healthy living. “Without them, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
Monday’s city Council meeting had a rather unique twist. Most of the time, the City Council and media members receive information about what is going to be discussed that night. This past Monday night on the agenda was simply the statement “Discuss Governing Body pay”. No further information was given to Council members or media members about this discussion, other than the fact that the Mayor wanted to have a discussion about this topic.
What we thought would be a discussion about the rate of pay, turned out to be about Governing Body attendance.
Eudora Mayor Scott Hopson began the discussion with the idea about tying council member pay to attendance at meetings. Currently, City Council members receive $200 per month and the Mayor receives $250 per month.
While Hopson did not have clear cut ideas on how to address the topic, he did eventually suggest setting up a policy for “excused and unexcused” absences and setting a benchmark for how many unexcused absences a Council member could have before any pay was docked. Councilman John Fiore did bring up the fact that some council members schedules may not be conducive to constant attendance.
“I’ve got a day job that is easy for me to be here by 7, but I know that at least two of our Council members don’t have that luxury with their schedule,” Fiore said referring to Councilmen Bill Whitten and Tim Reazin who are full time fire fighters in other municipalities.
“I don’t want to tell Tim or Bill, or Kenny or Ruth for that matter, or you (referring to the Mayor) because you had some terrible issues right when I started where you were out of town helping out with disaster victims and I don’t want to tell you ‘Hey don’t help those disaster victims because you have only so many excused absences’, Fiore added.
Councilman Reazin also brought up the fact that when the pay for the governing body was raised in 2011, the idea was that the money was not solely for attendance at Council meetings but to help reimburse council members for other outside meetings and their time spent preparing for the meetings as well as giving back to the community in the form of donations to various charitable fundraisers that occur regularly.
Reazin and Councilman Kenny Massey both suggested that the idea that excused versus unexcused absences would lead to causing people to lie about why they were not in attendance.
“This is a commitment and you signed up for this when you put your name on the ballot,” Massey said. “I think if you get elected to these positions you should be here.”
Massey did also reiterate Fiore’s earlier comment about the fact that Reazin and Whitten have extenuating circumstances due to their full time employment, but said that members can somewhat plan their schedules and plan ahead for things such as vacation.
“I think it should just be X number of absences per calendar year and if you go over that, then you get docked,” Massey added.
While no formal decision was made, the consensus was that further discussions would need to take place and some formal determinations in a work session should occur in the near future.
We took a look at the minutes from each meeting in both 2011 and 2012 to verify the number of absences for Council members and the Mayor.
In 2011, there was 23 City Council meetings. Mayor Hopson missed the most with eight absences. Bill Whitten and Tim Reazin missed six meetings each with Kenny Massey, Ruth Hughs and John Fiore all missing one meeting apiece.
In 2012, to date, there has been 15 meetings with Tim Reazin missing five and Bill Whitten missing four, including this very meeting where the discussion took place. All other Council members and the Mayor have attended all 2012 meetings.
Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
The biggest story of the night from the Eudora City Council meeting was not the city budget (which we will report about in the coming days), nor was it about a new use for Nottingham School. It was about birds.
The City Council held a work session to look into allowing fowl to be raised at residences inside the city limits. Currently, city ordinances do not allow fowl of any type to be raised in the city. The City was looking into allowing certain fowl, including female chickens, ducks or quail.
The issue came to light when Jay Wilson, a local resident, was found to have several dozen quail on his property located in and near his garage. Wilson petitioned the City Council, per the current ordinances, to keep his quail which as he stated, were a hobby for him. Tori Gezel, another young resident of the city had also recently petitioned the City Council about raising three chickens on the property she lives at with her family.
Reactions were very mixed as to even allow it anything at all. Council members Kenny Massey and Tim Reazin were rather vocal in their opposition to allowing any fowl. Both agreed that administration of any type of ordinance allowing birds would consume city resources. Codes administration would be involved since they would have to approve any buildings built to house birds and likely police we need to verify and enforce any complaints filed by residents about someone having too many birds or not housed properly.
Council President Ruth Hughs, while not coming down on one side or the other, stated that she had some constituents say that they were afraid having chickens next door to them would lower their property values.
Councilman Bill Whitten’s line of questions through the session made it seem like he was in favor of some ordinance allowing fowl and Councilman John Fiore, while not speaking much on the subject, appeared to also support some type of resolution.
During the session, Hughs, Whitten and Fiore wondered how many people would even want fowl and what would the neighbors desire.
The big question that was asked by City Administrator John Harrenstein at the end of the session was if he and staff should do any further work towards writing proposed legislation. There was no resounding directive by anyone to work further. Massey and Reazin indicated that the topic should be dropped and not taken further.
This leads to our newest poll question: Do you think that citizens should be allowed to raise a limited number of fowl inside the city limits? It’s a simple yes/no answer. You can vote in the box on the upper right hand side of the web site. Simply click your answer and then hit “Vote”. Let your leaders hear from you and what you think. You can also use the comment section of this story if you wish to leave a longer answer
(l to r) Council Members Tim Reazin, Ruth Hughs, Gov. Mark Parkinson,
Mayor Scott Hopson and City Administrator John Harrenstein
While Eudora may be a first class city to many of its residents, the city has been designated a city of the 3rd Class since the state adopted the class system. Today, Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson, by official proclamation, designated the City of Eudora a City of the Second Class.
The class system for all cities in Kansas is based on population. Cities below 2000 residents are considered 3rd Class Cities and those above 15,000 residents are cities of the first class.
This change in designation, allows the city to do two things. First, if approved by the City Council and a vote of the electorate, the city can alter its form of government dividing into precinct wards and give the power for the mayor to vote in City Council decisions. The City Administrator can also be given, with City Council approval, additional powers to perform his duties.
Secondly, this allows the city to alter its taxation policies in regards to outlying areas. Both of these possible changes will be discussed in future City Council meetings.
City Administrator John Harrenstein, in an interview with Eudorareporter.com, said that these changes are being looked at by City Council members but he has not received any directives thus far to move towards changing the form of government.
Governor Parkinson in his remarks at the ceremony mentioned how he has been impressed by the growth in the City of Eudora. “About 20 years ago my wife and I almost moved to Eudora” Parkinson said. “My wife was up for a job in the Lawrence area, and we really liked Eudora. She did not get the position so we never made the move.”
Parkinson also went on to tell those in attendance that he thinks the cleanup of the old Farmland Industries property just east of Lawrence could help spur more development to the east and help Eudora grow even more.
Mayor Hopson added how with the completion of the Lawrence Memorial Medical Building and the possibility of further development on the Church Street corridor could also have a large impact on the town’s population.