Summer activity plan presented

The Sabetha City Commission met at 6 p.m. Monday, May 11, at Sabetha’s City Hall. Present for the meeting were Mayor Doug Clark, Commissioners Norm Schmitt, Nick Aberle, Maridel Wittmer and Julie Burenheide, City Administrator Doug Allen, Assistant City Administrator Bill Shroyer and City Clerk Steve Compo. Guests present were Jeremy Haverkamp with City of Sabetha Parks and Recreation, Jesse Mitchell and Rhonni Mitchell.

City Parks and Recreation

Haverkamp presented to the commissioners a proposed timeline for the City’s summer parks and recreation schedule – if the phases from Governor Laura Kelly’s plan happen as scheduled.

Since Monday, May 4, the City has been holding league baseball and softball meetings. They have been sorting baseball and softball teams, as well as taking swimming lesson sign-ups.

Phase Two is scheduled to begin Monday, May 18. At that time, baseball and softball practices can begin, as well as lifeguard training, and the skate park and playgrounds will open.

Phase Three is scheduled to begin Monday, June 1. At that time, Sabetha’s Aquatic Center will open, along with the Splash Park. Swimming lessons also will start, and practices for baseball and softball with continue.

Phase Out is scheduled to begin Monday, June 15. At that time, baseball and softball games will start.

According to Haverkamp, during each phase, the City will have informative signage posted to remind people to continue social distancing and practice good hygiene. We also will have daily sanitation schedules for restrooms, playground equipment and at the aquatic center. Sanitation will involve disinfecting surfaces.

The commissioners asked Haverkamp questions about sanitation of equipment and counting the number of people at the aquatic center. They also inquired about baseball and softball games.

“We will continue to do our very best with the guidance we have from local and state health officials to keep people in our parks and sports programs safe and healthy,” Haverkamp said.

Old Sabetha Lake

J. Mitchell and R. Mitchell talked to the commissioners about problems occurring at Old Sabetha Lake.

According to J. Mitchell, this past weekend, his family was camping out at Old Sabetha Lake, when a vehicle started driving erratically throughout the campgrounds. J. Mitchell said he asked the driver to slow down due to children being present. Then, according to J. Mitchell, the driver pulled away from them, grabbed a rifle out of his truck and put it on his toolbox in the back of the truck. A friend of the driver arrived shortly after and the pair confronted J. Mitchell and his family about their previous exchange with the driver.

J. Mitchell said during the confrontation, the girlfriend of the friend brought him a loaded gun and handed it to the guy in front of J. Mitchell and another camper. After the confrontation, J. Mitchell said the friend carried the gun back to the car and the pair left.

“I don’t know if any of you have had the chance to be confronted by someone with a gun, but this is my third time at [Old] Sabetha Lake,” J. Mitchell said, while referencing two previous incidents. “I am getting tired of it. It’s getting to a point where it is a free for all, especially at night. Somebody is going to die out there. I will never go back out there.”

According to J. Mitchell, the incident was reported to the Nemaha County Sheriff’s Office and the Sabetha Police Department.

The commissioners discussed the three instances J. Mitchell referred to, and discussed how many of the occurrences involved individuals from out of town. They also discussed police response times, as well as local police and the game warden patrolling the area.

“I know how I would remedy it,” Schmitt said. “I’ve brought it up once before. Let it be open during the day and close it at night.”

“So, no camping?” Burenheide said.

“No camping,” Schmitt said.

The commissioners then discussed how many people were using the lake.

“So, are all the spots taken by campers?” Burenheide said.

“When it’s nice, it’s crowed,” Allen said.

Aberle said that while there have been problems out there, closing it might not be the answer.

“That punishes the people who are doing it right, and lets two screwballs ruin it for everyone,” Aberle said.

“I understand that you’re going to punish the people who aren’t guilty, but I am going to go on the record, you either change it [lake policies] now, or I’m not taking responsibility for the person who gets killed,” Schmitt said. “You just can’t turn a blind eye.”

“I’m not saying I’m turning a blind eye,” Aberle said. “I’ve talked to Jesse [Mitchell] about this before, and the last time we talked about it, we came here and said do something about it, and really nothing got done.”

“I said close it and we said we couldn’t do that,” Schmitt said. “Now, we’re saying it again. That’s the way you stop it. You close it for awhile, don’t let anybody in and then figure out the rules.”

Allen said they will see what they can do legally through the State Parks and Recreation program, since the City of Sabetha receives funds for having the lake open. Allen said they also will look into putting a curfew into place, and whether they can shut down the township roads that lead into the lake.

“I hate to see it get closed down, but I just hate to see someone get killed,” J. Mitchell said.

Also at the meeting:

The commissioners approved the following: minutes from the April 27 meeting, a wage resolution for lineman Laine Marston, a wage resolution for lifeguard Skylar McAfee and the mayor’s signature on Side Hill Acres Filing No. 2 Plat.

The commissioners decided to cancel their meeting on Monday, May 25, due to Memorial Day.

The commissioners were invited to the Sabetha Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday, May 25.

Schmitt asked about the 155-feet tall telecommunications tower proposed at Sixth and Oregon. Allen said the City has been in contact with the company, and they have put in a conditional use permit.

The commissioners asked about the progress on Sixth Street and requested an update on the Midtown Building.

Heather Stewart164 Posts

Heather Stewart is a reporter for The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2015. She specializes in court and sports reporting, as well as photography. Heather is a 2011 Kansas State University graduate with a degree in psychology. She lives in Sabetha with her husband.

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