By Carol C. Neugent
In a narrow vote, city council decided to approve a letter that would have the effect of exempting the city from the provisions of the new concealed carry law until Jan. 1, 2014.
Council members Steve Crum, Daniel Benner, Bob Rardin, and Seth Konkel voted in support of the action. Council members Mike Kanaga, Russ Kessler, and Keith Pierce voted in opposition. Council member Pat Ewert was not present.
In April, Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law House Bill 2052, which is intended to open certain public buildings to concealed carry handguns. The bill requires cities to remove bans on concealed handguns unless a city can show that adequate security measures are in place.
The same law allows cities to continue banning concealed weapons through 2017 in cases where adequate security plans have been developed for their buildings. The first step in that process is to notify the Kansas Attorney General and local law enforcement agency of the city’s intent to exempt its buildings until Jan. 1.
Prior to the vote, Kessler said that he was not in support of sending a letter for exemption. He said that there currently wasn’t anything in the way of security measures to keep someone from carrying a weapon into a building and that the exemption would prevent authorized people to legally carry a concealed weapon.
“People who can legally carry weapons should be able to protect themselves,” Kessler said.
Kanaga echoed Kessler’s comments and voiced his agreement.
“I just don’t think that statistically there is any evidence that allowing people who have undergone the training and background checks involved with having a concealed carry permit…allowing them to carry their weapons…makes a place any less secure or any more unsafe,” Kanaga said.
City attorney Alison McKenney Brown clarified for the council that the exemption would give the city six months to conduct a security review and determine what, if any, security measures the city would like to implement. In the meantime, the status quo would exist in regards to any of the currently posted buildings.
Crum said he would have issues with allowing guns in the court and council rooms, considering situations where tempers could flare. He expressed the necessity to have the time to get proper security measures in-place.
Konkel requested that once a plan was researched and possibly developed, any recommendations be brought back to the council in enough time to thoroughly review and discuss the matter.
In other business:
• Mayor Bruce Armstrong thanked the PRIDE committee, the public works department and volunteers who helped with the city-wide clean-up activities over the last two weekends.
• Konkel addressed the council about additional concerns that were brought to his attention regarding the vote to keep the fireworks detonation times the same. Council members did not take any additional action.
• Kessler reported on the schedule of activities for the upcoming July Fourth celebration. He also announced that the recreation department was sponsoring the Playground Passport program. The program is a way for children and their families to explore all of the city’s parks.
• Crum discussed the summer programs available at the Haysville Community Library. He encouraged everyone to take advantage of the many activities for children.
• Pierce presented a citizen petition to Council. The citizens who signed the petition were asking that a way be found to slow traffic on the curvature of Fager Street. Staff will review the situation and present recommendations to Council at the next meeting.
• Wichita Roofing was approved as the contractor for the City Hall roof repairs with a contract amount of $17,371.80.
• Digital radio upgrades for the police department totaling $119,439.20 were approved. Council also approved the purchase and installation of emergency equipment for two unmarked police vehicles.
• Council approved a request to post Riggs Pond no fishing June 27 through July 4 in anticipation of the July Fourth fishing derby.
• Public works director Randy Dorner updated the council on the improvements being made to Turkle Street. Dorner stated the project remained on track for a July 4 completion date barring any further weather delays. He also discussed the East Grand resurfacing project and the utility relocations taking place.
“I guess what I’m trying to let everyone know is that East Grand is going to start becoming a debacle on driving with all these relocations,” he said.
• Chief administrative officer Will Black announced that the Hometown Market would open on Saturday from 8 to 11 a.m. He also announced that the PRIDE paper shredding is Saturday in the City Hall parking lot from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
• It was announced that the Household Hazardous Waste drop off was set for Saturday at the Vickers Building from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.