Iola City Council members were receptive to making the Iola Municipal Pool more accessible to youngsters this summer, but they aren’t sure the right course of action would be to provide free passes to students who earn A’s on their final report card.
Georgia Masterson approached the Council Monday night on behalf of Humanity House, a local nonprofit that assists local families in need.
One of its aims, Masterson said, was to remove the stigma many impoverished families — especially children — feel when isolated from regular summertime activities. Allowing more to go to the pool removes one of those stigmas.
The pool passes also would create an incentive for youngsters to keep up their grades, she continued.
The incentive would be made available to all USD 257 students from grades 3 to 12, about 600 kids. A one-day pass would be given for each A.
Masterson said Humanity House also would rent out the pool for a party for the youngest students who aren’t yet subject to the “A-B-C” report card ratings.
Council members Nancy Ford and Jon Wells agreed some type of pool promotions were valuable, but questioned the effectiveness of tying it to a report card.
Wells pointed to research that suggested specific incentives had little to no impact on a child’s grades, “and might even disincentivize some kids.”
Wells said he preferred opening the pool for some type of Parent Teacher Organization-sponsored pool party, and allow the individual PTOs the final say on who can attend. Or, he said, the city simply could open the pool more often for “free days,” in which nobody is charged admission.
Ford, meanwhile, asked about how to handle qualifying students with younger siblings who didn’t qualify.
“How do you give one pass to a kid without making their brother or sister feel left out?” she asked.
After a brief discussion, the Council agreed to table the matter, telling Masterson to come back with other incentives.
“I think the Council is on board,” Mayor Joel Wicoff said, “but maybe a little bit differently than what you’ve proposed.”
EDDIE RADFORD has 30 days to begin demolition of his house at 26 N. Third St., and three months after that to get the property cleared, or the city will do it for him.
Council members voted, 4-1, for the demolition order following an emotionally charged hearing in which Radford accused the city of picking on him and making him homeless.
Radford’s mobile home as been the subject of several citations and court orders through the years, Code Enforcement Officer Gregg Hutton noted, because of various code and health violations.
In February, the city scheduled a condemnation hearing giving Radford 30 days to clean up the property.
The house has several inaccessible rooms because of stacked boxes, several windows are broken, the front and back doors are both falling apart, and the yard is littered with inoperable vehicles, debris and household trash, Hutton noted.
“We’ve given Mr. Radford every opportunity to clean up his property,” Hutton said, to no avail.
In one instance, Hutton said Radford had been assessed a $20-a-day fine by the Iola Municipal Court because of ongoing code violations. He has since racked up more than $2,200 worth of fines.
“He owes more in fines than what that trailer is worth,” Hutton said.
Radford saw it differently.
“I’m the one being picked on all the time,” he said.
His vehicles generally are in working condition, Radford claimed, except for cases of vandalism or theft.
He claimed a fuel pump had been stolen from a grain truck, and an RV’s tires had been sliced by vandals.
“You guys are going to take my home away,” Radford said. “I’ll clean the place up. That I’ll do. But don’t take my home away from me.”
“Why wait until now?” Councilman Austin Sigg responded. “You’ve had multiple warnings.”
Radford’s response, again, returned to the vehicles he said were operational and tagged, but just waiting on parts.
“What do you have against vehicles that run?” Radford asked.
“This issue is different than vehicles,” Wells replied.
Voting for the demolition order were Wells, Sigg, Ford and Beverly Franklin. Councilwoman Sandy Zornes voted in opposition. Absent from Monday’s meeting were Donald Becker, Aaron Franklin and Bob Shaughnessy.
Radford promptly left the meeting, ignoring City Administrator Sid Fleming, who noted resources are available locally to aid families in search of a home.
The Council also voted, 5-0, for the demolition of a house at 310 N. Fourth St.
Nobody spoke in opposition in that case.
IN AN unrelated matter, Council members approved Hutton’s request to loosen Iola’s ordinance regarding the maximum wall height of accessory structures to local properties.
Iolans previously could build walls no taller than 9 feet.
However, many companies offer accessory buildings with 10-foot walls.
The accessory buildings still must be less than 900 square feet.