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Morning Sun
  • Ketterman delivers State of the City

  • The City of Pittsburg is not immune to the economic hardships that face many cities across the United States, but it is a busy, progressive city that is headed in the right direction.

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  • The City of Pittsburg is not immune to the economic hardships that face many cities across the United States, but it is a busy, progressive city that is headed in the right direction.
    That’s the message mayor John Ketterman conveyed to city leaders and luminaries during his annual State of the City address and breakfast Wednesday morning in the lower level of Memorial Auditorium. After the invocation by Covenant Harvest Church Pastor Doug Kreighbaum, Dr. Gina Pinamonti, chair of the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, said she was excited about the city’s future and potential.
    “We’re looking forward to an exciting and prosperous year,” Pinamonti said.
    After the Pittsburg State University ROTC Gorilla Battalion presented the colors, Ketterman took the podium. The mayor spoke first about the work the Department of Public Utilities has achieved over the past year.
    Public Utilities
    The department is in the final stages of a major upgrade to the water treatment plant on the southeast side of Pittsburg. When the project is complete, he said, the facility will have a rated capacity of 4.4 million gallons of water per day, will be able to peak at 8.8 million gallons per day and will be able to become a regional supplier of water. The department also relined the main 18-inch sewer line that runs along the U.S. Highway 69 bypass between Fourth and Quincy Streets, a project that will prevent the intrusion of water from mineshafts and help prevent overflow into to the city’s main wastewater treatment plant at the intersection of Olive Street and the bypass.
    The department, with the help of the state, also is in the process of reconstructing approximately 300 manholes throughout the city.
    “In some areas of the city,” Ketterman said, “locking manholes have been installed to prevent people from dumping trash such as microwave ovens, computers, large quantities of metal objects and kitchen sinks from entering the sewer collection system.”
    Ketterman also spoke of the department’s 10-year project to replace the city’s deteriorating water distribution lines, the first stage of which is ongoing in the Turner Addition at the north end of town. The department also installed a 12-inch water line along Lone Star Road from Atkinson Ave. to Fourth Street, which will help secure waterflow to Atkinson Airport and the nearby industrial park that houses Sugar Creek. Crews also replaced about six blocks of a 12-inch water main along Joplin Street that had failed.
    “Medical establishments in the area were never without critical water service,” he said.
    Additionally, Ketterman said, the hot, dry summer caused — and parched, contracting soil — caused breaks along lines throughout the city. Crews responded to a total of 202 incidents including water main breaks, broken fire hydrants and broken water valves; roughly 190 of which were main breaks.
    Page 2 of 5 - Plans also are underway to create a storm shelter in the Utility Annex — the old National Guard Armory at 15th and Pine Streets — that will protect first responders and allow for an auxiliary 911 call center.
    Public Works
    The Department of Public Works also had a big year, Ketterman said. The department updated the Atkinson Airport master and layout plans to accommodate the use of medium-size jets and improve safety and accessibility for them. The plans were approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to be a guide for future capital improvement projects. The runway lighting system and airport approach lights are scheduled to be replaced next.
    Ketterman said protecting the environment near the airport and the species that inhabit it is a priority, and an environmental assessment identified two species — the gray bat and the spring peeper frog — that need to be protected.
    “As the city moves forward with any future projects, replacement wetland and critical habitat involved with the improvements will be developed off the airport property,” Ketterman said.
    The airport currently houses eight corporate jets, and Ketterman said the city also has been able to remain competitive in its jet fuel prices through contract sales with a national (though unnamed) fuel provider — the airport relies on revenue from fuel sales to support operations — for bulk fuel purchasers. The city also spent $11,700 to fill cracks in 5,500 feet of runway and repainted the runway markers.
    Street improvements
    They city’s 2010 quarter-cent tax referendum for street improvements, which generates about $900,000 annually, so far has been successful, Ketterman said. This year the city will complete about 4.4 miles of repairs, including:
    • Repaving Walnut Street from Fifth to 20th Streets at a cost of about $96,000.
    • Repaving 2,553 feet of streets in the Timberhills subdivision at a cost of about $39,000.
    • Two inches of asphalt were milled from Tucker Street, Tucker Terr., Ohio Street, Oakridge Road, Oak Court, Pin Oak Circle and Oakridge Circle, and repaved at a cost of about $319,678.
    • Centennial Dr. was milled and repaved from Knollview to Rouse Streets at a cost of about $145,000.
    Streets planned for completion by the end of December include:
    • Georgia Street from Memorial Dr. to Quincy Street at a cost of about $128,000.
    • Streets in the Grand Oaks subdivision at a cost of about $47,000.
    “The Department of Public Works is instrumental in efforts to beautify the city,” Ketterman said. “From assisting with Operation Clean Sweep to helping Crawford County with bulk drop off that (SEK) Recycling Center on the second Saturday of each month, the ... department is doing their part to ensure Pittsburg has a bright future.”
    Pittsburg Police Department
    In 2012, Ketterman said, the Pittsburg Police Department reinstated the 10-week Citizens’ Academy program, which  had been cut due to funding issues, and graduated 15 community participants. The program allows community members to get an inside view of the department, how it operates and the challenges officers face. Additionally, the D.A.R.E. program acquired Darren the D.A.R.E. Lion, a robot officers control by remote and which interacts with children in classroom and community environments.
    Page 3 of 5 - The department also has added positions for an additional officer and dispatch operator, though the department is still down two officer positions.
    “With consistent annual staffing level increases in patrol, investigations and communications, the police department will continue to improve upon their noble call of duty,” Ketterman said.
    The department has remained busy during 2012, Ketterman continued. Since January, the department has responded to 13,967 service calls and completed 4,811 crime reports. National crime data suggests that felony crimes per 1,000 people has dropped nationwide, Ketterman said, Pittsburg continues to struggle with a high property crime rate, “which is indicative of both a struggling economy and drug-related property crimes.” Ketterman cited statistics that show Pittsburg property crime rates decreasing slightly.
    There were 596 thefts reported in 2011 compared to 584 in 2012. There were 169 burglaries in 2011 compared to 165 in 2012. Battery cases were up from 153 in 2011 to 165 in 2012, but domestic battery cases were down from 105 in 2011 to 82 in 2012.
    Pittsburg Fire Department
    The department completed the ISO Public Protection Classification, which gauges the fire protection capability of a local fire department to respond to structure fires, with a rating of three out of 10, Ketterman said.
    “We will strive to continually improve,” he said, adding that the fire department is fully staffed. The department also participates in the Tri-State recruitment alliance, which has 19 members and aims to recruit the best firefighters.
    Ketterman said the department has been busy, but that fires have been down since last year. In 2011 the department was dispatched to 1,903 calls. In 2012 the department was dispatched to 1,382 calls including 479 EMS assists, 157 fires, 33 hazardous conditions, 188 inspections, 101 investigations, 53 motor vehicle accidents, 347 public service events and six rescues.
    Parks and Recreation
    The department has worked diligently to seek grants and form partnerships with local organizations, and has raised more about $74,000. That includes $5,000 from Miller’s Inc., Pitt Plastics, Watco, Pitsco and Names & Numbers for a free community Christmas show; $4,000 from Live Well Crawford County for healthy concessions at the Pittsburg Aquatic Center, the 23rd Street bike park, Schlanger Park disc golf park and Safe Bike Routes Map; $1,000 from Walmart for the Everybody Plays project; $20,000 from the Pritchett Trust for the Everybody Plays project; $10,000 from the Kansas Health Foundation for the Schlanger Park disc golf course; $4,721.76 from Rotary Club to repair playground equipment at Rotary Park; $3,829 from Sunflower Kiwanis for equipment in Kiwanis and Countryside Parks; and $25,000 from Pittsburg Beautiful for the RV and bike park restrooms and shelter house. To date, more than 133,925 people have been through Pittsburg parks, not including daily unscheduled visitors, Ketterman said.
    Four major acts have performed or are scheduled to perform at Memorial Auditorium this year including the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Spencer’s Theater of Illusion, Rich Little Comedy Tribute to Jimmy Stewart and the Roy Rogers Christmas Show — which is the free show sponsored by Miller’s, et al.
    Page 4 of 5 - Pittsburg Community Theater has staged performances of The Glass Menagerie, Jesus Christ Superstar and Moon Over Buffalo, as well as a youth workshop.
    The Parks and Rec department also realized a $50,000 financial improvement, Ketterman said, bringing in $30,000 more in revenue over 2011 and cutting expenditures by $20,000. The department also reduced the subsidy for Four Oaks golf course, though he did not specify how much, and is working with Pittsburg State University and Pittsburg Beautiful to construct restroom and shower facilities and a shelter house for the bicyclists who travel cross-country through Pittsburg every summer.
    “We appreciate the continued support of both of these organizations to complete projects in our park system,” Ketterman said.
    Finance Department
    This year the city’s finance department did another excellent job, Ketterman said. It received its Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the city’s comprehensive annual financial report for the 15th year in a row. Delinquent property taxes had decreased over the past two years, he continued.
    Delinquent property tax totaled $297,276, or about 5.5 percent, compared to the 2012 total of $248,338, or about 4.6 percent. Property valuations fell about .28 percent, from $118,112,841 in 2011, to $117,584,135 in 2012, but sales tax is up 5.73 percent from 2011, an increase of about $250,000. Ketterman said sales tax revenue is increasing, but that the state’s as-yet-to-be-revealed tax plan, which could eliminate the transfer of motor fuel tax revenues and limit the amount of property tax cities can levy, leaves Pittsburg’s financial future in a fog.
    “Pittsburg and all other cities will have to watch carefully,” Ketterman said.
    Economic Development
    Pittsburg industry experienced a significant boost in 2012, Ketterman said. Perhaps the biggest was the sale of the former Superior Industries property to Jake’s Fireworks, which plans to invest around $30,000,000 capital improvements to the facility and add jobs in the future.
    Expansions at Masonite, PRG, Via Christi Hospital and the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas should bring an estimated 175 additional jobs. Industries such as Atkinson AZZ are planning future expansions, which also should add jobs, Ketterman said.
    To aid expansion, the Pittsburg City Commission initiated a business expansion program that directs incentives towards businesses seeking to expand. Administrators also formed the Crawford County Workforce Alliance to address needs identified in the city’s business expansion and retention survey, with the goal of meeting the needs of local employers by establishing the Crawford County Technical Skills Training Center in conjunction with Fort Scott Community College.
    Ketterman also spoke about the lack of new and innovative products being considered for manufacture in Pittsburg. The city engaged the Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center and Network Kansas, a pilot project that has increased the city’s ability to assist Pittsburg employers through a system of analysis and deductive reasoning. Ketterman also mentioned that the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce has been instrumental in helping more than 10 new business start up in downtown Pittsburg, as well as a new Volvo Corp. facility at the intersection of 20th Street and the bypass.
    Page 5 of 5 - “We are preparing to meet these challenging times head on,” Ketterman said. “...I believe the city is on the right track and heading in the right direction.”

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