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Saturday
January 22nd, 2022

city swearing inJose Lara, Janeth Vazquez and Jeff Parsons are sworn in Tuesday evening as the newest members of the Liberal City Commission. Many were at the meeting to see the new commissioners sworn in. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

The Liberal City Commission took on some big changes during its most recent meeting Tuesday evening. 

The changes began with new commissioners Janeth Vazquez, Jose Lara and Jeff Parsons being sworn in, and after the swearing-in ceremony, Parsons and fellow commissioner Chris Linenbroker were selected as the mayor and vice mayor. 

“It feels really good. It’s not something I was looking to do right off the bat, but I’m very honored and I’m looking forward to working with the rest of the commission,” Parsons said. 

“It’s an honor to be chosen as the vice mayor, I think we’ll all work together really well, and I think we can really make some differences,” Linenbroker added. 

Both Parsons and Linenbroker said there are a few more immediate projects they would like to tackle in their new roles. 

“I would like to meet with the staff and learn about all the upcoming projects being planned and learn more about what’s on the horizon,” Parsons said. “My main thing has always been living within our budget, and I want to see to it we do just that.”

“At the moment, I’ve been working with some people on some new housing development, so we’re talking about how we can best do that,” Linenbroker added. “I know housing is a big thing for this area, so hopefully we can have a focus on that and make some improvements in that area.”

shores jan 19 article

As mayor and vice mayor, Parsons and Linenbroker said there are definitely some goals they have for their tenures. 

“I’d like to see us as a community work closer together as far as working with Seward County, USD 480, Seward County Community College and the other taxing entities,” Parsons said. “I’d really like to see us all be able to work together to give the taxpayers a better value for the money they pay every year. I want to thank the community for electing me, I considered myself a long shot being a write-in candidate, so I’m very humbled and fortunate to be on the commission now.”

“I’d also like to see us all working together, that’s going to be a real key as far as helping save taxpayer money,” Linenbroker said. “I’d like to see us all work together and make the taxpayer dollars go as far as they can. That can be hard because everyone wants to do their own thing, but we really need to come together so we can have a better plan. If anyone has any questions or ideas or anything, don’t hesitate to reach out to any of us on the commission, we’ll be more than happy to help or point you in the direction of the person or people who can help.”

Lara and Vazquez also expressed appreciation for being elected to the commission during the commissioners’ comments near the end of the meeting. 

“I want to thank everyone who came to the meeting and stayed throughout the whole thing,” Lara said. “I’m extremely excited to serve on the commission with Ron [Warren] and Chris, they’ve done this before, and the other two who got elected with me, we all get to learn all this at the same time. I still want to keep the promises I made during my campaign, I don’t want to be just another politician. If there’s anything going on we need to look at or know about, please feel free to reach out. I haven’t yet talked to all the city staff members, but I’m going to be doing that really soon and get to know everyone around here. So again, to everyone here, thank you.”

“I’m very humbled and very emotional, I’d like to thank everyone who showed up, including my family and some of my friends, they all know how much I’ve wanted this,” Vazquez said. “I’d like to thank the community for placing its trust in me and I hope to uphold all of the promises I made during my campaign. I hope to give this my all, and I want to thank everyone for trusting in me. I consider myself pretty approachable, so if there’s anything anyone needs, I encourage people to reach out to me and talk to me about what’s going on. I hope to help educate the community on what the commission is and what all we do, and work with groups and entities in town. At the end of the day, we all have the same goal, we want to make sure Liberal families are not only surviving but thriving.”

The commission began its new business by hearing an update from Human Resources Director Bruce Whittington regarding the LEAPS program, which is assisting in the search for a new city manager and then approved Ordinance 4575, which vacates an unused utility easement. The commission then approved a software upgrade for the Liberal Animal Shelter (switching from Visibility to Shelterluv) and also approved the acceptance of a Concessions Rent Relief Airport Grant agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The commission also heard from Seward County Development Corporation Executive Director Eli Svaty regarding Liberal’s participation in the Kansas Main Street Program. 

“In the fall of 2020, the Seward County Development Corporation  voted to become an affiliate member of the Kansas Main Street Program, which is open to businesses and communities all throughout the state,” Svaty said. “And what that got us was access to quarterly trainings for the Main Street Program and membership to the online Main Street Now, which has very valuable information. When the State of Kansas opened up the opportunity for three communities to apply to be selected for the actual Main Street Program this year, the Seward County Development Corporation  voted to go ahead with that application. As we began the application process, we discovered we needed a resolution from the Liberal City Commission, and that is what we’re asking for now.”

Svaty gave some other information about the program and what it could mean. 

“This would give us access to several technical resources and trainings, which would all be extremely beneficial,” Svaty said. “There are also resources available to help downtown property owners undertake effective rehabilitation, restoration, adaptive reuse and other projects. There are also resources for access to state and federal grant funds.”

Ultimately, the commission approved Resolution 2372, which endorses participation in the Kansas Main Street Program. To conclude the meeting, the commission approved the acceptance of a Bureau of Justice Assistance Grant in the amount of $550,000 for four years to be used for Drug Court salaries, benefits, training, software, office supplies, drug testing supplies, and other related expenses.

 

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