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Wilson talks trash

POSTED: August 17, 2012 7:00 a.m.

By LINDA MOWERY-DENNING
Ellsworth County I-R

WILSON — About a half-dozen residents attended a meeting of the Wilson City Council Monday night to complain about what they said was a stench and possible health hazard from an overflowing garbage truck and containers in their neighborhood.
“I’ve got to say, enough is enough,” said Jeremy Hlad, who acted as spokesman for the group.
His concerns were echoed by a council member.
“The stench really is terrible,” said Linda Bushnell, who said every few days she drives through the alley behind the lot where the garbage truck is parked. 
The property on 23rd Street is used by the city’s refuse hauler, KC Enterprises. The city, which has a contract with the company through December 2013, has fielded complaints about trash pickup and other issues at previous meetings.
At the July 16 meeting, Jane Galliart, a member of the Wilson Board of Health, reported KC Enterprises had two full dumpsters at 2212 Ave. E for five days. One was moved by the council meeting, but the second dumpster remained on the property, she said.
Hlad suggested the city enact an ordinance to prohibit trash from being held for more than 24 hours.
No action was taken on the suggestion; however, Criswell asked city attorney P.J. Kasper to investigate Kansas Department of Health and Environment regulations. Officials want to know if KC Enterprises is working within the boundaries of its permit, specifically is the company allowed to treat the property on 23rd Street as a transfer station? And can the city implement an ordinance to stop the trash transfer?
KC Enterprises advertises its territory as Wilson and the outer reaches of Russell County.
Kasper, however, warned city officials they can’t override the authority of the state.
“This is a multi-faceted issue. It’s just not one thing,” Criswell said.
Hlad said the city is working to clean up eyesore properties; however, having the trash dumpsters stand untouched for days at a time also is a nuisance.
Wilson earlier received a $400,000 state grant for demolition and rehabilitation of houses in west part of town. Lori Thielen of the Beloit-based North-Central Regional Planning Commission, grant administrator, said six house demolitions and four rehabilitations are in the works for this month.
The City Council now is considering making application for a second grant to include the eastern part of town. Thielen said the Kansas Department of Commerce has modified the rules since  Wilson received its original grant. 
“Leverage and pre-application are key,” she said.
Thielen said she expects to have a budget and application prepared by Monday. The final document will be presented to council members at their Aug. 20 meeting. Application deadline is Aug. 30.
In other business:
• Fire chief Larry Langerman said the city’s newer siren continues to rotate, but it doesn’t make a sound because the control board no longer works. He said city representatives have talked with Wilson’s insurance carrier because the board stopped working after a storm passed through the region. A new board is expected to cost at least $1,700.
• The council approved not more than $75 to pay for parts to repair the garage door opener at the fire station.
• Alice Killian’s appointment to the Lang Memorial Library board was approved by the council.
• The council also okayed the distribution of $4,300 to the Wilson Economic Development Corporation.
• Council members decided to move forward with a letter regarding the condition of the house at 615 25th St. The house has been vacant for about 12 years since the owner died and the ceiling in the back of the house is falling in. A relative has continued to pay the taxes.
Police chief Bob Doepp, who received a report of people in the house, said he didn’t see evidence of such activity, but called the property “an attractive nuisance.”
• In his report, Buehler said the city continues to maintain adequate water levels in its wells. At the same time, he encouraged residents to conserve water as much as possible so the city won’t face the issues of Ellsworth and other nearby communities, where water restrictions are in effect.
“You never know when we’re going to play out here,” he said.
• Police chief Doepp said the Czech Festival went well, with the exception of a couple of minor incidents that were quickly resolved.
“People were on their good behavior overall,” he said.
Mayor Criswell praised the efforts of volunteers, businesses and other involved in the festival, which for the first time was under the umbrella of the city instead of the Wilson Chamber of Commerce.
“I think as a community we put on a good festival,” Criswell said.
• Council member Leland Francis stood on his soap box for several minutes to defend the work of city employees. Francis said he had received complaints from residents and he was tired of it.
“We have competent people to get things done. We don’t need citizens spying on them,” he said.
“All I wanted to do was say, I support the people we hire.” 

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