A Busy Year for the City of Caldwell

The City of Caldwell has been very busy in 2016. Looking back, it’s amazing what the small staff working for the City has been able to accomplish. Planning work continued on the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Project, with the construction phase beginning in 2017. The SRTS Grant will assist the City in constructing new sidewalks and raised cross walks near and surrounding the Caldwell School grounds. This project was made possible through the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT).

Another recent KDOT Project in the City was a North Main Street resurfacing project. Due to the City returning maintenance responsibilities back to KDOT, 100 percent of the North Main Street resurfacing was paid by the State of Kansas.

Swimming pool improvements were made once again, adding a concrete sunbathing area that many patrons were able to enjoy this past summer.  Our City Park also has some new playground equipment thanks to work by the City Park Board and funding from the S.H.A.R.E. Group.

With assistance from KDOT KLINK funding, the City was able to resurface South Main Street from 1st Street to the City limits.

With a shortage of viable housing, the City Commissioners took a leap of faith and chose to help address this issue. The first home to be fully renovated by the Hedrick Trusts’ City Home Rehabilitation Project at 11 South St. Mary’s, has been completed and is up for sale. It looks amazing thanks to work by Burton Tidwell, Extra Mile Construction, the Caldwell Methodist Youth Group, City Staff, City Commissioners, and other volunteers. You may call the City Office at 845-6514 to schedule a showing. This is a fantastic home, within walking distance of Caldwell Schools, the City Pool/Park, and Athletic Fields.

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which brought two low to moderate income houses to Caldwell using grant funding from HUD and the Kansas Department of Commerce, is wrapping up after some project setbacks and delays. This project was made possible with a partnership with Sumner County. Although the project has come with its challenges, having two new homes on the market for sale in the near future, will be a great thing for Caldwell.  More information on the sales process will be released as the details are finalized.  Since this a HUD funded project, their rules must be followed throughout the administration, construction, and sale of each home.

Another example of Sumner County entities collaborating for the common good, is the Sumner County Cowley College Project. Sumner County Economic Development, cities in Sumner County, private businesses, and citizen volunteers worked closely with Cowley College in getting information out to the public on the November election. Caldwell had the second highest “yes” vote on the Sumner County Cowley College election question, next to Wellington, which had the most “yes” votes.  These types of collaborations will be key to growing Sumner County and the communities within its borders.

The City of Caldwell donated a portion of the North Osage median for Caldwell Schools to expand parking for school events. This new parking lot will be quite nice during school events that bring both locals and out of town guests to town.

With help from KanOkla’s Matching Funds Grant for Unsafe Structures, the City was recently able to have an unsafe residence demolished. This is the second year in a row that KanOkla has awarded this grant, allowing communities in their service area to stretch budgets to allow for the costly removal of unsafe structures. Thank you to KanOkla for offering this program and awarding the City of Caldwell grant funding again in 2016.

The City has also applied for Community Development Block Grant funding to assist with demolition of another unsafe building just west of the City Fire Department.  Demolition of aged downtown buildings comes with a price tag. Should the City’s CDBG application be approved, those funds will be essential in moving forward with this unsafe structure demolition.

We have several downtown buildings that are in poor shape. Realizing that the up-keep on aged buildings is a costly endeavor, inquiries are often made from small business owners looking to open a business downtown.  Sadly, some of our buildings are not up to code and are sometimes used for storage. This is something our Governing Body plans to address in 2017 in order to help secure our downtown buildings.   Growing Caldwell is important to its survival. Included in growing Caldwell involves taking stock in what we have and helping to secure it.  We are very lucky to have the businesses downtown that we do. Securing buildings adjoining these small businesses will be key to helping them thrive. As a reminder, the City of Caldwell has a Matching Funds Roof Grant for downtown buildings. To date, two building owners have received Roof Grant funding. Please call the City Office at 845-6514 or stop by for more details on this program.

Speaking of Code Enforcement, the City will be ramping up Code Violation enforcement in residential areas also. Issues caused by excessive junk, trash, tires, etc. not only affect property owners, but also their neighbors. With the Chisholm Trail 150th celebrations planned for 2017, many visitors will be flocking to Caldwell. If we all do our part to keep our properties clean and debris free, Caldwell will be remembered as being a clean and tidy Border Queen City.

One thing is certain, our newly restored downtown Historical Markers will be a treat for visitors for years to come. Thank you to all those that donated to this project, helping the City bring new life to the markers that highlight our rich Cowtown history along the Chisholm Trail.

Our Public Works Department has been busy as usual keeping up with road work, alley work, property maintenance, and water, sewer and storm water utilities. Never knowing what the day will bring, can sometimes make daily duties challenging. Special Projects for Public Works included replacement work on a water main East of Caldwell, running under Little Casino Creek. With KDOT’s expansion of the Little Casino Bridge currently underway, the City was required to move the water main.  Since this is a KDOT project, the State of Kansas will reimburse the costs of this work.

A City wide clean-up event was held for the first time in years. Several commercial sized dumpsters were filled, taking away unwanted items safely to the landfill, at no cost to our citizens.  There was a great turn out and was highly successful. Plans are starting to be made on another clean-up day in 2017.

Our unique water tower was inspected internally, which required it to be drained and cleaned. Also, costly curb and gutter replacements continued this year, as did road and alley maintenance. Our Public Works Staff works hard sometimes even late at night and on Holidays when emergency situations arise. Caldwell is lucky to have a Public Works staff dedicated to keeping our water and sewer flowing. And they are some great downtown decoration engineers, helping Caldwell get in the spirit of Christmas. If you see them on the street, they would appreciate your taking time to say “thank-you for a job well done.”

Caldwell saw the demolition of a former viable business structure and replaced with a new retail business. Anytime a new structure is built from the ground up, it takes much coordination with City Staff, developers, and contractors throughout the life of the project.  From zoning all the way through the construction phase. 

Special Projects have kept both City Administration Staff and Public Works Staff hopping. As part of a multi-year project, new water pumps have been installed. New software has also stream-lined some processes, but also created extra time from staff to learn an entirely new systems. Automatic water meters were purchased for hard to read water meters. Learning how to operate the handhelds and software that accompany these automatic meters , has also taken some adjustment from staff. These staff members are taxed with daily functions, customer service with a smile, and juggling special projects. They all deal with a lot, many times juggling busy family lives with demanding work lives. These are all hard-working, community minded individuals that Caldwell is lucky to have.

From volunteer, part-time, and full-time Staff, the City is dedicated to works hard every day to make Caldwell a better place for all.  We have a top notch Volunteer Fire Department, with individuals putting their own safety at risk to help those in need in various emergency situations.  Our Governing Body is next to none, and has also worked hard to do what they feel is best to keep Caldwell on the map.  Many sacrifices are made by these individuals to keep our fine little City operating year-round.

Our sewer lagoons had some landscaping work completed that addressed an erosion problem. An annual sewer line maintenance program commenced to help prevent unwanted items such as auto detail cloths from accumulating in sewer lines. As a reminder, toilet paper is the only safe thing to flush down your toilet. Anything else can cause problems for not only your property, but your neighbors as well.

2016 also brought some new faces to the Caldwell Police Department. New Police Chief, Gene Garcia has brought a new energy to the City in many regards. His experience in law enforcement has already proven valuable to helping ensure that Caldwell is a safe community. Police Officer, TJ Ohlemeier has also been an asset to the Department. If you see them at a school or community function, feel free to give them a “welcome to Caldwell.” They would both love to hear from you.

As the year comes to an end and 2017 rolls in, we look forward to moving Caldwell forward in a positive manner by following the City of Caldwell Mission Statement: “To provide residents, visitors, and the business community with the highest quality municipal services in an efficient, courteous manner, and to enhance the quality of life through planning and visionary leadership.”  Something each person that gives of themselves for the betterment of the City of Caldwell takes seriously and reaches for every day. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the City of Caldwell!