Independence resident pushes for stronger security at local bars

INDEPENDENCE — An Independence woman who lost a family member in an assault at a local bar asked city commissioners on Thursday (Jan. 2) to require tougher security measures at local taverns.


Bonnie Tucker, whose son, Pete Tucker, died from injuries in an assault at a local bar in February 2013, asked commission to impose a regulation requiring security lights and cameras in the outdoor smoking areas and eating/drinking areas of local taverns. The enhanced protections will allow bars and taverns to better police their establishments and prevent injuries to patrons, she said.

She said she discussed her concern recently with State Sen. Jeff King, R-Independence, who, she said, suggested that the eating and drinking establishments have enhanced security measures.


“In the one bar where my son died, there was only one person in the bar who was in charge of the bar itself plus the outdoor area and several eating areas,” Tucker said. “There’s no way one person can do that effectively.”


City commissioners asked city attorney Jeff Chubb to investigate how other Kansas cities deal with security lights and cameras in bars that have outdoor areas.


City commissioner Fred Meier cautioned that the proposal should be investigated cautiously so that any regulations would not impose undue burdens on the owners of bars or restaurants.


City commissioners also learned of an increased sales tax revenue in the community. The additional retail activity created by a major pipeline project in the Independence area was believed to be one of the reasons for the increased sales tax revenue, said city manager Micky Webb. The overall increase in sales tax collections may be 5 to 6 percent over last year, he said.


While municipal governments are glad to see more sales tax revenues in their coffers, they also are cautious that the enhanced revenue isn’t spent too quickly. That’s why Webb proposed Thursday that a certain percentage of the increased sales tax revenue but sat aside in some type of an emergency fund, which can be used for local emergencies, to buffer property taxes when the local tax levy is projected to increase, or to serve as a cash balance to meet the requirements for the city’s bond repayment rating.


Commissioners agreed with Webb’s plans to put some, but not all, of the extra sales tax revenue aside in an emergency revenue fund. Webb said he and city clerk Tony Royse would develop a formal proposal for the commission’s consideration regarding the percentage of sales tax revenues could be put aside for an emergency reserve account.


In other business transacted at Thursday’s city commission meeting, commissioners:


• agreed in principle to allow a Manhattan-based consultation company to pursue further development of a city strategic plan. Two weeks ago, commissioners heard a proposal from  Gary Hogsett, senior energy management specialist, and Mark Chalfant, chief operating officer with the Manhattan-based Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center (MAMTC), which has an office at the Independence Corporate Office. The proposal would have MAMTC work with five municipal governments in Kansas to develop, implement and execute strategic goals or take existing strategic plans and implement them into action. MAMTC has been contacted by the Kansas Department of Commerce to create a pilot program that assists five Kansas municipal governments with their strategic plans, said Hogsett. Independence was chosen as one of those five cities.


The program would be free to each of the five cities, Hogsett said.


When the issue was initially presented to the commission, it drew negative vibes from Mayor Derrill Unruh, who said he felt the company’s efforts would conflict with the efforts of local organizations and individuals who were responsible for development of a city strategic plan in July 2013. He said he felt MAMTC’s proposal would either conflict with the local efforts or, at the least, “water down the process.”


However, several local individuals spoke in favor of the MAMTC proposal. This included Chuck Goad, an Independence resident who spearheaded the strategic development process last summer. Goad said he favored having MAMTC move that strategic plan off the commission table and execute it with the help and collaboration of local entities and individuals.


“Strategic plan is not successful until it becomes a discipline . . . and we continue to push it and embrace it in the day-to-day activities of the city government,” he said. “I see this as a shot in the arm to make it the strategic plan a part of our community on an ongoing basis.”


Lisa Wilson, director of the Independence Chamber of Commerce, and Aaron Heckman, director of the Montgomery County Action Council, also spoke in favor of the MAMTC proposal.


Commissioners were given a copy of the MAMTC contract prior to the meeting and indicated they wished to have more time to research the matter. They will take up the proposal when they meet for a special meeting on Monday morning, Jan. 6.


• approved a mayoral proclamation that champions the upcoming Martin Luther King Day Celebration being sponsored by the Quinn Chapel AME and the Independence Diversity Task Force. Prior to the passage of the mayoral proclamation, commissioners heard plans for the celebration, which will be held Sunday, Jan. 19, from Pastor Dee Williamston of the First United Methodist Church of Independence.


• passed a resolution giving Henry and Marsha LeRoy, owners of a residential home at 916 E. Main, 15 days to begin repairs of the property. Once the LeRoys begin the repairs, they will have six months to complete the repairs and bring the property to city code.


• approved the levying of a nuisance tax for the City of Independence’s effort to remove blight and tall grass on properties at 809 S. 16th and 300 S. Earl.


• agreed to pursue condemnation of properties at 513 N. 11th and 9016 E. Main.

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