Patron speaks to city about a pool issue

The Sabetha City Commission met at 6 p.m. Monday, July 11, at Sabetha City Hall. Present for the meeting were Mayor Cody Bletscher, Commissioners Norm Schmitt, Nick Aberle, Maridel Wittmer and Julie Burenheide, City Administrator Doug Allen, City Clerk Steve Compo, and Police Chief Robert Wahwasuck. Also present were guests Dan Sorensen, Tony Gudenkauf, Tom Gudenkauf, Bethany Streeter and Jason Enneking.

Pool Issue

B. Streeter was present to discuss an issue her family had at the Sabetha Aquatic Center last month. According to B. Streeter, her ex-wife Jessica Streeter – former Sabetha police officer – had taken their 3- and 5-year-old daughters to swimming lessons when J. Streeter reportedly experienced discrimination for being a transgender woman.

“My family was directly affected by discrimination that my ex-wife – yes that is what papers say, my ex-wife – experienced recently when someone in this community thought that them being uncomfortable with a situation entitled them to complain to one or more of you commissioners,” B. Streeter said. “Then, that commissioner or commissioners thought it was appropriate to have the chief of police inform my ex-wife that she made people uncomfortable at the pool during swimming lessons and during pool hours. And to make others feel more comfortable, she should wait in the car during swimming lessons that I and my ex-wife have paid for our two daughters to attend, and to refrain from using the female bathroom during pool hours.”

B. Streeter continued by saying that when she was informed of the situation on June 16, 2022, she was “not only frustrated and upset for her [ex-wife], but also for our girls, because this city is now attempting to teach our girls that them having two moms is wrong and that they should be ashamed of it.”

“I understand that people in this community don’t understand or agree with the fact that my ex-wife came out as transgender a little over a year ago while I was deployed,” B. Streeter said. “I didn’t agree with it either. I don’t understand it, but that’s not my choice to choose how she lives. Just because we as citizens of Sabetha disagree with someone’s life choices, that doesn’t mean we get to decide where and when they get to do things at a public accommodation.”

Then, B. Streeter quoted Kansas Statute 44-1001: Kansas Acts Against Discrimination. See Page 3 for the entire statute.

“The fact that the city commissioner or commissioners, who decided to speak to the chief of police, thought this anti-discrimination act didn’t extend to transgenders shows how closed-minded some of you are,” B. Streeter said.

“I want you as a commission to understand that while I don’t agree with what my ex-wife has made with life choices, I will not sit by and let you belittle anyone no matter their sexual orientation or gender. I may not agree with or understand certain lifestyles, however, if they are not breaking the law, I will never tell someone how to live their life, nor do I care about how they live their lives. I hope to see y’all take that same outlook on life as well. However, if I do continue to see discrimination in this town, I will not hesitate to bring a lawsuit, because it is a public place. This not only goes for my ex-wife, but also anyone I hear about discriminated against in this town in any way shape or form.”

B. Streeter said she doesn’t want her children to be told their other mom is wrong with her lifestyle choices.

“My girls are 5 and 3,” B. Streeter said. “They have a long road ahead of them in this community. This is our home now. I don’t want to deal with public places telling them their mom is wrong. So, I don’t want to go the legal route, but I want you guys to know, I’m not just talking smoke. I don’t care who it was, who complained. It just needs fixed. They need to know, you can have your personal opinion, but it doesn’t need to be more than gossip.”

The commission thanked B. Streeter for speaking with them.

See Page 3 for the City of Sabetha’s official statement regarding the issue.

Police Report

Wahwasuck presented his written report to the commissioners.

Dogs 

Wahwasuck said there have been 15 dog calls since April 19.

There were three dog at large calls, where city personnel or an officer responded and no dog could be located in the area which it was reported. 

One call was for a dog at large, where city personnel or an officer responded, and the dog could not be caught and the owner was unknown. 

One call was for a dog at large, where city personnel or an officer responded. The dog had gotten off a leash while being walked, the owner had already caught the dog when city personnel arrived. 

One call was for a dog at large, where city personnel or an officer responded. The owner of the dog was on scene attempting to catch the dog when they arrived. 

One call was for a dog at large, where city personnel or an officer responded. The owners were trying to catch dogs when they arrived. Officer helped kids catch dogs and secure the fence they had gotten out of. 

One call was for a dog at large, where city personnel or an officer responded. Dog could not be caught, but was at its house. Spoke to the owner via phone, said the dogs were in a fence, but would call someone to come and put them back. 

One call was for a dog at large, where city personnel or an officer responded. Dog could not be caught, contact was made with the owner, a citation was issued. 

One call was for a dog welfare check, where an officer responded and investigated. Owner was made aware of the reason for contact and no charge was filed. 

One call was for a dog welfare check, where an officer responded. No dog could be located in the non-residential area where it was supposed to be located. 

One call was for a barking dog, where an officer responded. Owner was contacted and spoken to about the ordinance, and was given a warning. 

One call was for a vicious dog, where an officer responded. The dog broke the leash and displayed aggressive behavior. Spoke to the owner, and the victim did not want to file a formal complaint. 

One call was for a vicious dog, where an officer responded. A dog running at the lake displaying aggressive behavior. Spoke to the owner and the dog was removed from the lake area, victim did not file a formal complaint. 

One call was for a vicious dog, where an officer responded. A dog had acted aggressively and then ran away. Owner was unknown and the dog could not be located in the area where the incident occurred. 

One call was for a vicious dog, where an officer responded. The dog was impounded and a case has been filed. 

Codes 

1322 Roosevelt: Junk vehicle was abated. Unfit structure, maintenance and repair. Ready for abatement. A meeting was held and it was decided to move the case into court. 

523 N. 14th: Unfit structure, ready for abatement. Structure is in the name of the deceased owner. Spoke to the person in charge of the estate and they are going to have the structure evaluated and will tear down if not repairable. 

216 S. 13th: Blight premise, junk vehicle, abated by owner. 

319 N. Ninth: Blight premise, health and welfare, maintenance and repair. New owner has been made aware of the outstanding ordinance violations and has been in talks with the city about abatement. 

316 S. Washington: Weeds and household trash, abated by owner. 

820 Florida: Weeds and household trash, abated by owner. 

Washington Street: Junk vehicle, abated by owner. 

Main Street: Junk vehicle, abated by owner. 

811 Florida: Maintenance and repair, abated by owner. 

Department

Covid is still a fight as we have had people miss work due to positive cases. Our newest dispatcher and officer are acclimating fine and both have exceeded expectations thus far.

We continue to patrol the lakes as much as we can.

Officers are unfortunately keeping busy investigating reported crimes and doing case work. 

Fourth of July weekend came and went without many hiccups and now we move on to preparing for the rodeo and parade. Along with the rodeo parade, we remind citizens that vehicles will be moved off of Main Street from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on July 15.

Wittmer asked about the vandalism at the Splash Park on Sixth Street. Wahwasuck said they have some suspects and it will probably end up with them bringing a “bunch of kids to court and see what the judge says.”

Aberle said the past few years there has been a traffic issue during the rodeo parade where cars have been driving around barricades. Wahwasuck said they would keep an eye out for that issue.

Also at the meeting:

The commissioners approved the minutes from the Monday, June 27, meeting. 

The commissioners approved Wage Resolution No. 2022-16 keeping the Lifeguard Water Safety Instructor up-to-date.

The next regular meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, July 25, at Sabetha City Hall. 

Official Statement From the City of Sabetha

This statement was given on behalf of the City of Sabetha by their attorney Martin Mishler in response to Bethany Streeter’s complaint given at the City Commission meeting on Monday, July 11. 

“First, the letter read to the city commission was not based on first hand information. Bethany Streeter was not present during any of those conversations. Second, the city disputes the version of the facts that Bethany presented. No one was kicked out of the pool. To protect the rights of other patrons of our pool, we did ask Jessica Streeter to use the family restroom, rather than the women’s restroom. That is a far cry from the allegations of discrimination that were alleged. In this situation, the City has to balance not only the rights of the person whose gender has changed, but the rights of the rest of the public who use our city pool.”

Kansas Statute 44-1001 – Kansas Acts Against Discrimination

44-1001. Title of act; declaration of state policy and purpose. This act shall be known as the Kansas act against discrimination. It shall be deemed an exercise of the police power of the state for the protection of the public welfare, safety, health and peace of the people of this state. The practice or policy of discrimination against individuals in employment relations, in relation to free and public accommodations, in housing by reason of race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin or ancestry or in housing by reason of familial status is a matter of concern to the state, since such discrimination threatens not only the rights and privileges of the inhabitants of the state of Kansas but menaces the institutions and foundations of a free democratic state. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the state of Kansas to eliminate and prevent discrimination in all employment relations, to eliminate and prevent discrimination, segregation, or separation in all places of public accommodations covered by this act, and to eliminate and prevent discrimination, segregation or separation in housing.

It is also declared to be the policy of this state to assure equal opportunities and encouragement to every citizen regardless of race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin or ancestry, in securing and holding, without discrimination, employment in any field of work or labor for which a person is properly qualified, to assure equal opportunities to all persons within this state to full and equal public accommodations, and to assure equal opportunities in housing without distinction on account of race, religion, color, sex, disability, familial status, national origin or ancestry. It is further declared that the opportunity to secure and to hold employment, the opportunity for full and equal public accommodations as covered by this act and the opportunity for full and equal housing are civil rights of every citizen.

To protect these rights, it is hereby declared to be the purpose of this act to establish and to provide a state commission having power to eliminate and prevent segregation and discrimination, or separation in employment, in all places of public accommodations covered by this act, in housing because of race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin or ancestry and in housing because of familial status, either by employers, labor organizations, employment agencies, realtors, financial institutions or other persons as hereinafter provided.

Heather Stewart188 Posts

Heather Stewart is one of two co-editors for The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2015. Heather is a 2011 Kansas State University graduate with a degree in psychology. She lives in Sabetha with her husband.

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