Butler County Adopts Public Health Declaration

In response to Governor Kelly‘s Executive Order to “temporarily prohibit mass gatherings to limit the spread of COVID-19,” and to mirror the preventative actions being taken by the State of Kansas, the Butler County Commissioners held a special meeting on Thursday, March 19 , at 8 AM to discuss the adoption of a Public Health Emergency Declaration and closure of Butler County facilities to the public beginning Monday, March 23rd through, Friday, April 3rd.

County Administrator Will Johnson stated, “With the closure of State offices, school closures and the expansion of travel restrictions occurring after the County Commission meeting on Tuesday, it has become necessary for Butler County to adopt a Public Health Declaration allowing the County flexibility to provide the essential and necessary services required of County Government. The County Commission continues to be committed to the health and safety of our employees and citizens, along with delivery services necessary to carry Butler County through this crisis.”

Butler County Emergency Management Director, Keri Korthals, speaking to the commission about the need for the Public Health Declaration.
Meeting attendees sat with respect to the social distancing guidelines.

Essential services will be provided by appointment only. During the meeting, the Motor Vehicle tag office was cited as not being considered an essential service.

The Butler County Courthouse is among the public facilities to be closed to the public March 23rd through April 3rd.

Also, discussed was protocol for employees affected by a limited shutdown because of the pandemic. Primary among the concern is childcare for essential staff. “Family First” is the motto shared by Johnson. 

Johnson said “Childcare for staff will be provided in some fashion by the county.”

According to Jamie Downs, Director of Public Health, the number of available childcare workers in the county is down 733 providers with the coronavirus outbreak.

Johnson informed the Commissioners that employees are mandated by the state to quarantine immediately upon return from international locations and cruise ship travel as well as California, Colorado, Florida, New York and Washington. This currently affects three Butler County employees.

Board of Commissioners discussing the resolution presented by County Administrator Will Johnson.

Additionally, Johnson said fearful employees considered “non-essential staff” will be allowed to take this time off.

The Motor Vehicle office is one of the non-essential offices to be closed to the public. All essential business will be conducted by appointment to limit the number of gathered individuals. 

Commission meetings will also be closed to the public but will be available through live stream on the Butler County website (www.bucoks.com)  to comply with Kansas Open Meetings Act. 

The one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Butler County, along with two exposed individuals have been quarantined and are being monitored by the Butler County Health Department. 

In a recent report by the National Institute of Health (NIH), many have wondered if they couldn’t simply protect themselves by avoiding people with symptoms of respiratory illness. 

“Unfortunately, the answer is no,” the report went on to state, “A new study shows that simply avoiding symptomatic people will not go far enough to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s because researchers have discovered that many individuals can carry the novel coronavirus without showing any of the typical symptoms of COVID-19: fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. But these asymptomatic or only mildly ill individuals can still shed virus and infect others.

“This conclusion adds further weight to the recent guidance from U.S. public health experts: what we need most right now to slow the stealthy spread of this new coronavirus is a full implementation of social distancing. What exactly does social distancing mean? Well, for starters, it is recommended that people stay at home as much as possible, going out only for critical needs like groceries and medicines, or to exercise and enjoy the outdoors in wide open spaces. Other recommendations include avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people, no handshakes, regular handwashing, and, when encountering someone outside of your immediate household, trying to remain at least 6 feet apart.”

With journal studies, as well as evidence from asymptomatic patients testing positive for COVID-19, proving it is possible to test positive for Covid-19 without symptoms, it is unethical to act otherwise. 

While there is no need to panic, this reality underscores the need to strictly adhere to social distancing, self quarantine and increased diligence to personal hygiene for the welfare of public health. It is necessary. It is about saving lives and protecting loved ones. We must all take it seriously.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) and tests are currently restricted to medical personnel, first responders those who are symptomatic or known to be exposed to positive cases.  This is due to the low number of supplies available. 

The Butler County Health Department does not have test kits. All testing is currently being done at the state level. 

While there may be no testing done on asymptomatic individuals who have no known contact with a positive case, there is still room for the virus to travel freely for weeks unknown. 

Cavalier or dismissive attitudes do not change the facts. Ignorance in this case is not bliss. We are in a critical time and to establish and enforce strict safety measures in order to get ahead of the virus and help contain this pandemic. 

Alternatively, running to stores and clearing shelves of food and supplies, including toilet paper, has increased the hysteria and panic.  This behavior only serves to perpetuate the fear surrounding the coronavirus, as well as preventing people who need to purchase basic necessities from having access.

Using common sense, thinking of your fellow man and following the guidelines established by national, state, local authorities will help us stay ahead of the virus. In six months, we are going to look back at this time and say, “We overreacted” or “We didn’t do enough.” 

The resolution, approved 4-1 with Myers in opposition, recommends the following:

  • Recommended no gatherings greater than fifty (50) people through May 10th, or until the situation changes, in line with CDC recommendations.
  • Recommended the County Administrator follow KDHE & CDC protocols for recommendations related to County services and employees.
  • Encouraged County residents to utilize web-based or mail-in services instead of visiting
  • County facilities in person.
  • Cancelled all 4H Building rentals along with activities through May 10th.
  • Cancelled the Department on Aging’s Spring Fling event in May.
  • Cancelled all Commissioner Senior Center visitations and luncheons through May.
  • Cancelled all out of state travel through May 10th.
  • Required County employees to quarantine for fourteen (14) days if they had traveled to any restricted areas, as outlined by the CDC.
  • Restricted County employee personal travel to CDC restricted areas.
  • Discontinued any new vacation requests for Public Safety employees or critical essential employees (Health, Sheriff, 911, EMS, Emergency Management).

Butler County Property Values to Increase

Debra Studebaker from the Appraiser’s Office appeared before the Board of County Commissioners to inform them of the results of the required annual valuation to all real property in Butler County. 

It is required to mail a change of value notice to each property owner by March 1 of each year.

All change of value notices will be mailed on Friday, February 28th, in compliance K.S.A. 79-1460. as required by the Commission.

Hearings will begin on Monday March 9, 2020.

Changes that property owners will see this year:

55% of commercial properties will see increases

76.4% of residential properties will see increases

91% of farm home site properties will see increases. These are properties that have both residential and agricultural classes.

Vacant land properties will increase 23%

The complete Appraiser’s Office Report to the Commission is available for viewing.

 

 

73rd Annual Mayor’s Dinner

Representatives from less than half the cities in Butler County, attended the 73rd Annual Butler County Mayor’s Dinner, hosted by El Dorado Mayor Bill Young.

The dinner was held at the El Dorado Elks Lodge on Tuesday, February 18th.

In attendance were Butler County Commissioners Woydziak, Murphy, Myers and Wheeler along with County Administrator Will Johnson; Representative Will Carpenter; El Dorado Commissioners Guthrie, Lewis, Badwey and Wilkinson; City Manager David Dillner; City Clerk Tabitha Sharp; representatives from Andover, Augusta, Potwin and Towanda; BCC President Dr. Krull and El Dorado High School Principal Bruce Lolling.

Mayor Young said it was his desire that the gathering would provide them an opportunity to meet, form relationships and build collaborative partnerships across Butler County.

After welcoming guests, Young kicked off the process sharing informal updates.
Carpenter welcomed questions before he headed back to Topeka.
Potwin’s long time Mayor, Dean Schmidt, has held the office for 33 years.

City Service Awards

In one of his final acts as Mayor, Vince Haines had the privilege of doing one of his favorite jobs – recognizing city employees who have 10 or more years of service with the City of El Dorado.

Neil Boyce was presented his award by Kurt Bookout.

Debbie Smith received her award from Chief Curt Zieman.

City Clerk Tabitha Sharp was presented her award by City Manager David Dillner.

Brad Meyers presented to proud Marine Dad and snake lover, Scott Jones, his award.

Officer Sarah Hagen received her award from Chief Zieman.

Officer John Thompson received his award from Chief Zieman.

City Engineer Scott Rickard presenting to Amanda Stalnaker.

Michelle Linson received her award from Kurt Bookout.

Passing the Torch 

After a touching rendition of the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance led by the Flint Hills Rock and Rollers, outgoing Mayor Vince Haines was recognized for his two terms as Mayor of El Dorado, during the City Commission meeting held December 2, 2019.  

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Outgoing Mayor Vince Haines, left, receives a plaque from City Manager, David Dillner, right. 

He was presented with gifts from city staff and his fellow commissioners, before handing the gavel to incoming Mayor, Bill Young. 

In one of his last statements as Mayor, Haines shared his underlying vision when he took office four years ago. 

“Collaboration and communication with staff and the Commission, along with having trust and spirited dialog, and then being able to leave each meeting with respect for one another was my underlying goal as Mayor.”

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City Clerk, Tabitha Sharp administers the Oath of Office to incoming Mayor Bill Young, right.

Bill Young was sworn in as the 38th individual to serve as the Mayor of El Dorado, during the City Commission meeting on December 2, 2019.

Young seems to embody the Teddy Roosevelt quote, “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” 

Young is employed at Butler Community College as the Vice President Digital Transformation with Information Services.  However, he is no stranger to politics. Young previously served on the Planning and Zoning Commission and has served one term as City Commissioner beginning in 2011. 

When asked why he decided to run as Mayor, he said it had always been a goal, but after serving as a City Commissioner, his daughter was at a place in high school where he wanted to be present for her.  

With his daughter off in college, he jokingly said, “I have to find something to do.” But in earnest he added, “It’s always been a passion of mine and a goal, and now it is the right time.”

Speaking to that passion, he said, is quality of life, mainly parks and recreation.  His focus on quality of life issues include encouraging people to move here. 

“I want people to realize that El Dorado is an awesome town. I know it’s an awesome town. I want other people to have the same experiences.”   

In addition to Young being sworn in as Mayor, Gregg Lewis and Kendra Wilkinson were both sworn into a second term as City Commissioners, following their re-election last month.  

You can listen to highlights from the meeting on the podcast.

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City Clerk, Tabitha Sharp, left, administers the Oath of Office to Gregg Lewis, right, while Kendra Wilkinson and Bill Young watch.

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City Clerk, Tabitha Sharp, left, administers the Oath of Office to Kendra Wilkinson. 

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The Flinthills Rock and Rollers performed the National Anthem and led the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the City Commission meeting.

 

Sam Binter Tennis Complex

The Ribbon Cutting and Dedication hosted by the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce was held Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at 5:30pm.

Among the guests in attendance was former Superintendent Sue Givens, along with current school board members and City Commissioners.  The tennis court project was a joint venture between the City of El Dorado and USD490.

Mayor Vince Haines and Superintendent Teresa Tosh shared remarks with the crowd before USD490 School Board President, Norm Wilks help Mayor Haines cut the ribbon.

Mayor Vince Haines and USD490 Board of Education President Norm Wilkes cut the ribbon at the dedication of the Sam Binter Tennis Complex located on North Main Street. 

Sam Binter, left, and USD490 Superintendent Teresa Tosh with the comparative plaque. 

City of El Dorado 2020 Budget Approved

El Dorado Boy Scout Troop #222 made a visit to the City Commission meeting to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

The City of El Dorado Budget for 2020 was approved Monday night. City Manager David Dillner explained to the Commission that the Total Budget Authority for the year is expected to be $32.9 million.

Jordan Buxton, El Dorado Chamber of Commerce Director, along with Sue Hoefgen of Augusta Chamber of Commerce, shared information on the Butler County Act Program.

The goal of the Butler County Act Program is to create an ACT ready community. ACT Work Ready Communities Program (WRC) empowers states, regions and counties with data, processes and tools that drive economic growth.

Commissioner Wilkinson stated, “As a former educator I appreciate it is not just the schools involved but the chamber as well.” Mayor Haines added that he appreciates the bridge between the workforce and schools.

A date of September 12th is scheduled to launch the program. To learn more contact Jordan Buxton at the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce or Sara Hoefgen at the Augusta Chamber of Commerce.

Also appearing before the Commission was the HollyFrontier Western Celebration chairman, Tabitha Sharp. She was joined by the newly crowned Miss Frontier 2019, Naomi Galindo. They shared information about the upcoming festival and invited the Commissioners to attend this year’s event.

The festival begins Friday, August 9 with Mutton Bustin’, the Extreme Bull Blowout, and a concert by Kyle Park.

Saturday includes a parade through downtown, the Kids Korral at East Park in partnership with the Butler County History Center and Kansas Oil Museum. A Junior Ranch Rodeo will be held at 1p on Saturday followed by the Butler County Ranch Rodeo and a concert with Jason Callahan.

The weekend rounds out with Cowboy Church on Sunday. Tickets are $10, can be purchased at the gate, and provide admission to the festival all weekend. The City of El Dorado is a sponsor of the HollyFrontier Western Celebration. The HollyFrontier Western Celebration is a committee of El Dorado Main Street.