Archive for Thursday, April 20, 2006

Chief fine-tuning emergency-response plan for Basehor

April 20, 2006

Disaster can strike at any time, and officials are taking steps to ensure Basehor is prepared.

On Monday, Basehor Police Chief Terry Horner, along with Chuck Magaha from Leavenworth County Emergency Management, presented results of a test of the Basehor Emergency Management Plan at a City Council work session.

On March 21 about 13 city, county and state officials participated in the mock scenario, also known as a tabletop exercise. The exercise showed what might happen if a tornado hit Basehor, causing minor damage.

Horner explained that a state representative observed the meeting to critique the written plan.

"The state representative worked what is called a "hot review," which is done by a non-biased person from outside the county to review the plan and how we handled the mock situation," Horner said. "From there, he prepared a two-category response."

Strengths of the plan included a strong overall basic plan, partnership among agencies involved and commitment to the plan.

While the Basehor Emergency Management Plan, written by Horner, was highly praised, suggestions also were made to improve and correct the plan. Magaha said these critiques are not meant to demean the plan.

"The critiques enhance what you already have on paper," he said. "By evaluating it, it allows you to know where your shortfalls are. The fact that Basehor has a plan is better than not having a plan at all."

One weakness noted was citizen education and preparedness. Council member Keith Sifford said several citizens of Basehor claimed they are not able to hear the tornado warning sirens while inside their homes.

Magaha said the sirens sound at about 125 decibels at a 3-mile radius, which is louder than a power saw or standing next to an emergency vehicle with its sirens on. Thicker insulation, along with modern technologies such as big screen televisions and surround-sound systems, have made the sirens harder to hear inside a home. He said the decibels also drop down to 70 after a 10-mile radius, which is similar to a dial tone.

However, it's possible two new warning sirens -- one at Glenwood Ridge Elementary School and another at the Field of Dreams on Kansas Highway 7 -- will be added in the future. Horner also said he has started doing research to purchase weather radios through the city. If approved by the city council, interested citizens will be able to purchase these weather-alert radios through the city of Basehor.

Another critique of the plan was donations and volunteer management.

Magaha explained that people are eager to help out in an emergency situation and the city needs to have a way to store and distribute donations. Horner said he would like to form committees to oversee donations.

He said he hopes to have corrections to the plan completed this week, and efforts will be made to have the Basehor Emergency Management Plan on the next Basehor City Council agenda for approval.

Magaha and Horner both said that although the plan has been tested, critiqued and improved, it is important to keep updating it.

"A plan is a living document," Magaha said. "It doesn't do you any justice to write it then put it on the shelf. It should be tested and updated at least on an annual basis."

In the next exercise, Horner said he hopes to add more elements such as crowd control, security and fatalities, but he was also pleased with the way the first exercise turned out.

"I was very confident with the coordination of the other agencies that were available to assist the city of Basehor in an emergency situation," Horner said.

A regular city council meeting followed the work session Monday evening. The council:

  • Discussed the 24-40 Sanitary Sewer Taxing District in executive session for 30 minutes.
  • Agreed, 5-0, to defer the ordinance creating 24-40 Sanitary Sewer Taxing District and setting assessments
  • Agreed, 5-0, to defer the ordinance articulating the payment of city-at-large costs for 24-40 Sanitary Sewer Taxing District.
  • Approved, 5-0, a proclamation for Loyalty Day.

A Loyalty Day celebration will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at Basehor-Linwood High School.

  • Tabled, 5-0, an ordinance that sets late fees and procedures for collecting delinquent reimbursable accounts until the May 1 meeting.
  • Tabled, 5-0, an ordinance creating a Public Defender Fund until the May 1 meeting.
  • Approved, 4-1, a final plat, construction documents and subdivision improvements agreement for Phase 1 of High Point Downs.
  • Approved, 4-1, a final plat, construction documents and subdivision improvements agreement for Phase 2 or Metzger Meadows.
  • Approved, 5-0, an annexation ordinance for Phase 3 of Prairie Gardens.
  • Approved, 4-1, to rezone Phase 3 of Prairie Gardens from a suburban residential to a planned residential.

The motion originally failed, 4-1, with Keith Sifford voting for the rezoning. Discussion was conducted about the use of greenspace within the subdivision. The council agreed, 5-0, to reconsider, then approved, 4-1, to rezone. Council member, Bill Hooker, was opposed.

  • Approved, 4-1, the final development plan for Phase 3 of Prairie Gardens.
  • Approved, 5-0, to rezone Pinehurst Estates from general business to planned residential, the revised development plan and the preliminary plat.
  • Approved, 5-0, to hold a Transporation Development District (TDD) public hearing at 6 p.m. Monday, May 8.
  • Tabled, 5-0, the agreement with Theno Estates and Basehor Athletic Association until the May 1 meeting.
  • Agreed, 3-2, to not sign the K-7 Corridor memorandum of understanding agreement.
  • Approved, 5-0, to lease or purchase a FileBound Imaging System.
  • Agreed, 5-0, to not exceed $3,500 in the purchase of a projector, laptop and screen.

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