The newest member of the Olathe City Council praised the city’s current management as well as the generally congenial relationship among the board she has just joined.
“I would like to thank Olatheans who were willing to support me; I look forward to working with you and those who had other thoughts,” At-Large Councilwoman Karin Brownlee said Tuesday night after being sworn into office. “I look forward to working with everyone and especially engaging in productive discourse and positive discourse on behalf of our community.”
Brownlee, a former state senator and Kansas Secretary of Labor during Gov. Sam Brownback’s first term, was elected in November, winning with 53 percent of the vote over challenger Deann Mitchell. She succeeds former councilman and current Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman, who chose not to run for reelection to the council.
Besides Brownlee, returning councilmembers Wes McCoy of Ward 3 and Marge Vogt of Ward 4 also were sworn into office by Municipal Court Judge Katie McElhinney.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be reelected,” Vogt said.
Mayor Michael Copeland thanked Ryckman, who missed the meeting to attend Gov. Sam Brownback’s State of the State address in Topeka, for his service on the council since 2009.
“He has given his heart and soul to our community, and he’s made a very positive mark on our city,” Copeland said. “We look forward to his continued involvement in our city.”
The council also reelected Ward 2 Councilman Jim Randall as Mayor Pro Tem.
In other business, the council agreed to spend $769,000 for exterior renovation work to the Centennial Building at 135 S. Kansas Ave., which is the new home of the city’s information technology department.
Olathe bought the former Johnson County Juvenile Justice Field Office last summer to replace the old City Hall at 100 W. Santa Fe, which is being demolished to make way for the new County Courthouse.
The original budget for exterior work on the building was $259,000, but officials said that number didn’t allow for design improvements. The city already spent $1.3 million for internal renovations to the building.
The council members also voted to add two buildings to the Olathe Register of Historic Places: a 1930s-era building at 901 E. Park St., which incorporates materials from a previous 19th-century structure and was formerly used as a general goods store, and a Queen Anne home built by former city council member and state legislator Charles Hyer in 1910 at 325 N. Kansas Ave.
The council also approved issuing $12.4 million in industrial revenue bonds on behalf of the developers of the Olathe Soccer Complex at 106th Street and Ridgeview Road to help build nine soccer fields.
The developers, OSC LLC, will be solely responsible for paying off the bonds, which provide certain tax and interest benefits.
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