Last month, The Hesston Record invited City Administrator Gary Emry and Mayor Dave Kauffman to write an open letter to Hesston residents to give the City’s perspective and purpose for the proposed purchase of Country Village Mobile Home Park. A letter was not received by The Hesston Record. Through The Record’s Kansas Open Records Act requests, city staff found a letter, drafted Sunday, May 15, by Mayor Kauffman that was sent to Emry. Kauffman gave the Record his blessing to run the letter this week. It publishes in its entirety: As a city council, we value every member of our community, including those in the Country Village Mobile Home Park. We want every resident to have the best possible living conditions and experience living in Hesston. It is also important to understand that those serving on the council are not politicians, we are volunteers, doing our best to make Hesston a better place to live. There are no secrets or hidden agendas with the council or any of the past councils that I have been associated with. One of the things we talk about most often is transparency and always doing what is best for the community. While there are some things that must remain private until the sale of the park is completed, I want to clear up some misconceptions and clarify a few points. The city council has talked about possibly purchasing the mobile home park for many years. Recently, we found out that the current owners were even more motivated to sell, and were in fact in negotiations with another possible buyer. The council felt strongly that another out of town owner would not be in the best interest of the community or the residents of the park. Once we own the park, we will have much more control over the environment. In the past, when a complaint was made by a citizen or resident, we called the owners in Texas and gave them a deadline to deal with any problems. With local ownership, we will be able to deal with any problems much more promptly. The conditions of the park have obviously deteriorated over the last several decades. This impacts all of our citizens, especially those living in the park. As an example, an inspection done within the last year that showed that one of the tornado shelters was not safe to be used. The other infrastructure of the park such as streets and utilities have also deteriorated and are not up to the standards of our city. The park consists of approximately 22 acres of prime land in the heart of the city. We have been approached over the last several years by developers who are interested in helping the city develop quality affordable housing. While the city is not interested in being a landlord indefinitely, the rents from the park residents allow us to more than cover our costs while we thoughtfully consider the long term best use for this valuable land and quality affordable housing options for our citizens.
By Blake Spurney
The city expects to close on its purchase of Country Village Mobile Home Park the second full week in July. Negotiations for the purchase have been going on in earnest since December, 2015, according to city emails obtained by The Record via the Kansas Open Records Act. Councilman Clare Moore and City Administrator Gary Emry exchanged several emails in support of city's efforts to purchase the mobile home park, based on a review of 126 pages of communications turned over by the city. No emails from Councilmen Larry Fuqua and Gary Pauls turned up in response to The Record's open records request. Mayor Dave Kauffman and Councilmen Brad Unruh and Jason Jones each wrote fewer than five emails related to the purchase.
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The Hesston High cheer squad returned from Cheer Camp this year with three trophies.
Cheer Coach Nicole Roth said her team performed exceptionally well at camp.
“They got first in over all Game Day Performance. This is where the announcer treats the performance like a real game and the girls have to know if they need to present a defense chant or offense chant, when they need to dance with the band and when they need to perform a time out cheer.
“They got second place in Extreme Routine, which is the dance routine they are taught during camp. They are also allowed to add their own eight-count of dance and any stunts they can accomplish.
“They also got Superior for overall performance of everything combined,” she said.
The ladies spent a week, living in dorms and perfecting dances, stunts and cheers.
Senior Brityne Rucker said after last year’s summer without a coach and coordinating home-grown cheer camps to integrate incoming freshmen, the official Cheer Camp experience was refreshing.
“There’s a lot more. It’s a more chaotic and pressured than a home camp. I think you get to bond with your team more, because you are overnight in the dorms. It’s fun, but a lot of work,” she said.
Sophomore Katie Roth added there were major differences between the time spent at a professionally run camp and the clinics held by upperclassmen.
“I felt like we learned a lot more content,” she said.
Surrounded by cheer squads from across the state, Rucker said seeing other teams perform difficult and technical stunts pushed the Swather girls to perform better.
“Our stunting improved, so did our teamwork. Usually you have your bases, back spots and flyers. Everyone jumped in everywhere and everyone had the mindset we were going to do well,” said Rucker.
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