A Sedalia community center has come closer to reality with a Sedalia City Council vote Monday evening. 

The meeting’s agenda contained a limited number of items, but what few votes the council made packed a significant punch, including a start on community center plans and refurbishing at city hall. 

Council members approved the assignment of a contract for a design-build project from the Boys and Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri to the City of Sedalia and John K. Kroeger Construction. This project involves plans for a future community center in Sedalia. 

City Administrator Kelvin Shaw said both the city and the Boys and Girls Club have been involved in developing plans for a community center, as the building would include facilities for the after-school organization. 

“The Boys and Girls Club have been working on a joint project with us to pull together a concept of a community center,” Shaw said. “This will allow us to assume that contract and continue with that project and pull together a concept.” 

The city will retain the services of Robert Rollings Architects for the design-build project as it moves forward with John K. Kroeger Construction. Shaw and the council didn’t discuss any further details of the community center, such as costs, location or facility features. 

The council took a step toward a long-awaited project at city hall by approving a $64,449.33 agreement to furnish a renovated Sedalia City Council Chambers. City officials have been planning remodeling to the room for more than a year in tandem with the construction of the Sedalia Police Department Headquarters. 

The same budget for SPD Headquarters includes funds for refurbishing council chambers, which hosts council meetings and the Sedalia Municipal Court. The project will improve the room’s functionality for presentations and add more audience seating. The council authorized the agreement with Grooms Office Environments to purchase furniture for the new chambers layout. 

Audience chairs will seat 110 people and face the east side of the room instead of the northeast corner. The curved desk at the front of the room will remain with 14 seats. The desks between public seating and the front of the room will be removed as chairs are adjusted. 

Plans for the remodeling will include two monitor screens, one on the east wall and another on the north wall. This will make the room friendlier for public presentations that both the council and the audience can see. 

The council then moved on to a strategic planning session to prepare for the Fiscal Year 2019-20 city budget. 

Public Works Director Brenda Ardrey introduced a presentation on the Fleet Maintenance Department with Mike Shankles, superintendent of the division. 

The Fleet Maintenance Department provides maintenance and repair of all city-owned vehicles and equipment, including fire trucks, police cars, garbage trucks and various department cars. 

Shankles said he hopes to increase citywide efficiency by reducing fleet down time and speeding up the process of repairs. The department is in the process of adding a second emergency repair truck, which the council approved in the current city budget. 

The department has a goal of adding equipment and tools for the second truck and an on-vehicle brake lathe, Shankles said. He also proposed the idea of hiring another mechanic, especially as fleet maintenance is taking on vehicles from two more departments, the Sedalia Parks and Recreation Department and the Sedalia Water Department. 

Adding new computer software would allow staff to diagnose mechanical problems in the field for vehicles with Cummins engines, further reducing vehicle down time. 

Shankles suggested buying equipment to accommodate the new automatic side-loading garbage trucks and to add a new air conditioning refrigerant service machine. 

He and Ardrey addressed a long-term goal of safe entry and exit from the fleet maintenance shop. The facility lacks parking and has limited room indoors for large trucks. 

“The problem is the size of the door and trying to fit them in the shop,” Shankles said. “Like fire trucks, for example, there’s some fire trucks that we’ve got to work on outside because they won’t fit inside the building.” 

Expansion or relocation of the shop isn’t imminent, Ardrey said. The Public Works Department hasn’t explored any solutions to the issue so far. 

Fire Chief Greg Harrell gave an outlook on the upcoming year for the Sedalia Fire Department. 

The council has already approved or planned for many of the coming major purchases, including a new pumper truck to arrive in 2019, a full-time training officer, and new reporting system and software. 

These purchases factor into Harrell’s goal of improving Sedalia’s Insurance Service Office rating from a Class 3 to a Class 2. Achieving a Class 2 rating will signify improvements in SFD’s fire protection capabilities, and it will lower fire insurance rates for city residents. 

Harrell warned that growth in Sedalia could affect the city’s efforts to improve its ISO rating. Evaluators will contrast city residential and industrial growth with fire station locations, the number of firefighters and available equipment. 

“Our community is growing; alarms are going up,” Harrell said. “The city has continued to grow and encompass more square miles, and new buildings are being built daily. 

“At this time, I won’t speculate on outcomes, but I feel I need to make the council aware of this issue.” 

Harrell also announced SFD’s Firefighter I and II academy would connect with a new degree program at State Fair Community College. 

SFCC is working to develop an associate’s degree in fire science and could award 12 hours of college credit for completion of Sedalia’s fire academy.

This partnership would allow access to student loans and other programs for the academy. SFCC could also contribute advertising of the academy and list Firefighter I and II in its course catalog. 

“It’s not complete, but we’re close,” Harrell said. “We have support of staff, we have support of administration at the college, and we feel this will definitely be a unique program, one of very few programs in the state that will tie a municipal fire academy to a college campus.”

The council adjourned to a closed-door session for legal advice; lease, sale or purchase of real estate; and personnel matters.

Mayor John Kehde was absent from the meeting.

City Reporter

Nuria Martinez-Keel is the city reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering local government and various city departments. She can be reached at 660-530-0146.

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