pool

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Pictured is the approved layout of the Friend City Pool, scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend 2021. 

Members of the Friend City Council held a lengthy discussion of its city employee handbook during its March 3 meeting. 

Along with City Attorney Katie Spohn, the council reviewed numerous edits made to the handbook, including alterations to vacation days, overtime, sick leave, city cell phone use and insurance policies.

The council decided that should a city employee be terminated in the future, a termination hearing is no longer required, but can be requested. 

“To be required costs the city a lot of extra money,” Mayor Jewels Knoke said.

Discussion of rehiring former employees was also conducted.

Councilman Harlan Schrock said he would favor a period of time, anywhere from six months to a year, before ex-employees could be rehired.

Other councilmembers said that if someone is fired, they should not work for the city of Friend ever again.

“I would like to protect the city as long as I possibly can,” Knoke said. 

Spohn said she was unsure if such a regulation could be added to the handbook, but would look into the matter further. 

“We can try and say you’re never hired back, but I think that could work against us,” Spohn said. “It makes me a little nervous.” 

Also during the meeting, the council heard from the Friend Pool Committee on the pool layout chosen by community members. 

Demolition for the project, headed by Lamp Rynearson of Kansas City, Missouri, is set to begin this summer. 

“We are sitting at $2.7 million (for the project),” committee member Kristen Milton said. 

The new pool facility includes a bathhouse, diving board, basketball hoop and a Friend Bulldog slide, to be painted school colors. 

As of right now, five lifeguards will be needed during open hours and they will have portable stands to use. Depth of the pool will be from 0 feet to 5 feet, except in the diving area.

Discussion of adding more parking to the area located in the Friend City Park was held.

Also during the meeting, the council heard from Gina Weise of the DeWitt Group Disaster Relief. She gave a history of the 2016 flood in DeWitt and the relief group formed after it.

Weise said they are hoping to make the group countywide and asked the city council if members knew of someone from Friend who would be willing to be a representative. 

Councilmembers said they would think of people and let her know.

The council also approved a specialized designated liquor license for a March 19-20 event at the Friend American Legion. 

City Utility Supervisor Billy Baugh asked if the maintenance department had to ask BNSF Railway for approval of repainting the depot building located off of Highway 6. 

He also reported a water pump is out at the sewer plant and that a new one costs anywhere from $15,000 to $27,000. 

Friend Police Chief Shawn Gray reported that a youth ride-along program with the department was covered by insurance. It was then approved by the city.

Councilmembers also gave approval of a Dodge pickup truck to be purchased by the FPD and asked to privately sell one of the current police cruisers. 

The Friend City Council continued its discussion from last month on adding a golf cart policy, where residents can drive them from more than just the Friend Country Club and back.

A resolution to approve the policy, given that drivers are 21 or over, was added to the April 7 agenda, when the next meeting will be held. 

The meetings begin at 7 p.m. at City Hall and are open to the public. 

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