City commission addresses COVID-19 concerns

By Jessie Wagoner

McPherson City Commissioners met for their regularly scheduled meeting Monday to address COVID-19 concerns as well as regular business. Since the municipal building is currently closed to the public, the meeting was live streamed on the city’s Facebook page.

Mayor Tom Brown began the meeting by providing an update on the Stay-At-Home order issued by Gov. Laura Kelly. He reviewed what businesses and employees are considered essential under the order and advised the city was complying with the order and encouraged citizens to do so as well.

Brown advised the city is taking steps in each department to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. They are following social distancing guidelines, encouraging good hygiene practices and have closed areas to the public.

While COVID-19 and the impact on the city is a top priority, there is still regular business to attend to. Commissioners heard an update on public works projects and street repairs which continue throughout the city. They also approved wages and the hiring of temporary maintenance employees at Turkey Creek Golf Course.

Following the meeting, a study session was held to discuss the golf course as well as food truck policies. Gary Mehl, Commissioner of Public Lands, Treg Fawl, Golf Course Program Coordinator and Jason Buschbom, Golf Course Operations Superintendent provided commissioners with an update on Turkey Creek Golf Course.

“McPherson is one of the few golf courses remaining open; a lot of the other golf courses have closed,” Mehl said. “Wichita and a lot of other areas were on a Stay-At-Home order and all of a sudden in the middle of the week, last week, we got a call from about 20 or 30 Wichita golfers that wanted to come to McPherson to play golf because they heard we were open. They actually defied their order to stay home and came up anyway.”

Mehl said out of concern for the employees at the golf course, the clubhouse was closed and the golf carts were locked, but the golfers were able to play as long as they walked the course. Buschbom explained that there hasn’t been a consistent policy across the state as far as golf courses. Some golf courses have closed while others have remained open. Even if the golf course closes, employees will still be working to maintain the golf course. All three commissioners expressed their desire to close the golf course out of concern for public safety.

During the study session, the issue of food trucks was discussed. Currently, restaurants can only serve customers via carry out and delivery, no indoor seating is allowed. Mayor Brown said he didn’t think food trucks should be limited at this time but felt food trucks needed to comply with social distancing standards to ensure people weren’t congregating in one area.

Following the study session, the commission re-entered their regular session. At that time, they approved a motion to close Turkey Creek Golf Course. They will revisit the issue once the Stay-At-Home order is lifted. They also approved a motion to allow On the Hook Fish and Chips food truck to come to McPherson. Police Chief Mikel Golden was tasked with the responsibility of notifying the food truck that they are required to follow social distancing guidelines.

The commission will next meet at 8:30 a.m., April 6. The meeting will again be livestreamed on Facebook.