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New hires, extended mask mandate top agenda

By Vicky O. Misa | Vicky.misa@news-star.com | (405) 214-3962 | Twitter: @Vicky_NewsStar
The Shawnee News-Star
A masks-required sign in Shawnee reminds residents of the local COVID-19-related ordinance.

When Shawnee City Commissioners meet Monday, new hires and an amended mask mandate ordinance will be up for their consideration.

It looks like masks are here to stay for awhile, if an emergency ordinance is passed Monday.

With COVID-19 cases — and deaths — on the rise, commissioners are set to review an ordinance amending portions of the Health and Safety section of the Shawnee City Code. This is an extension of an ordinance that has been in place since July and was extended in September. It was set to expire the end of this month, but due to increased COVID-19 activity, the board is looking at extending the current mask mandate through June 30, 2021.

Also, Mayor Ed Bolt has declared an emergency in the city after an ice storm caused a lot of damage at the end of October.

A few new hires are on the horizon for Shawnee; the board must approve:

• The City Manager’s hiring of Michael Ayers as the Chief Information Officer (CIO).

“Mr. Ayers has been employed with the city since December of 2005, most recently serving as Information Technology Manager beginning in December of 2016,” City Manager Chance Allison said. “The position of Chief Information Officer was vacated two years later in December of 2018, further increasing the responsibilities he had to manage. His service to the City under these conditions more than qualify Mr. Ayers to assume the role of Chief Information Officer.”

• The City Manager’s hiring of Anthony Wittmann as Fire Department Chief. Wittmann has been with the Shawnee Fire Department for 20 years, starting out as a firefighter. He rose through the ranks, being promoted to Lieutenant in 2004. In 2008, he became a Captain, and in 2017 he took the position of Battalion Chief. Wittmann also has 25 years of experience as a paramedic, including shift supervision.

“Mr. Wittmann has displayed his dedication to public safety through gaining a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University in Technology in Emergency Responder Administration, as well as a master’s in science in Occupational Safety and Health from Southeastern Oklahoma State University,” Allison said. “Mr. Wittmann uses his education to invest in others as an instructor in subject matters such as firefighting, emergency medical services, OSHA compliance, and safety.”

• The City Manager’s hiring of Rachelle Erickson as Emergency Manager.

Erickson began her service with the city in October of 2015.

“Her time with our organization has been worthy of distinction, earning her the 2018 Civilian Employee of the Year award,” Allison said. “She is a woman of dedication to her craft, serving as the South East Region Vice President of the National Emergency Number Association and as the Terminal Assistant National Crime Information Center Officer.”

She is currently completing FEMA courses to acquire certification as an Emergency Manager.

Erickson’s eight-and-a-half-year career in the military dealt with emergency operation logistics in wartime operations, he said.

“Having responded directly to major incidents, she understands the command structure, and how to network and organize a response in an emergency situation,” he said.

In other business, commissioners may consider a $12K contract with GH2 for architectural and engineering services for the Santa Fe Depot Historic Roof Project.

Also up for approval are two public hearings and requests for rezones at 1027 N. Harrison, by applicants Patrick and Kelly Anne Buttram, for an automotive dealership; and at 32105 Homer Lane, by applicants Henry and Helen Wilkos, but the couple has since withdrawn their application regarding the five-acre property.

Among items on the consent agenda are:

• Acceptance of public water line improvements along Hardesty Road and placing the maintenance bond into effect. The relocation of a 12-inch public water main along Hardesty is now complete as a part of a bridge project funded by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN). The project is east of South Gordon Cooper Drive at the Squirrel Creek bridge. CPN paid 100 percent of the construction costs.

“The water line was installed satisfactorily and inspected to the City of Shawnee specifications,” the agenda memo from City Engineer Seth Barkhimer reads. “The main passed all required testing and is now ready for acceptance, and placement of the maintenance bonds into effect by the city.”

• Approve an amendment to the contract with Safe Events for Families (SEFF) for Fiscal Year 2020-2021 to include a wider variety of events to safely accommodate COVID-19 precautions. In May, the board approved 90 percent of the requested $63,000 in funding — on Monday's agenda the amount up for consideration is up to $56,700.

• The resignation of Master Gardner Tom Terry from the Beautification Committee; he has been on the board since 1995. Fellow board member Joe Harbeson is resigning also.

Several housekeeping items are on the agenda, as a handful of budget amendments require adjustments.

The monthly sales tax and budget report also will be presented.

On the Airport Authority agenda, commissioners may consider a budget amendment for Shawnee Airport Authority Fund 511 to adjust for lower fuel sales, surplus sales and needed building repairs.

The only item set for the Municipal Authority is to approve the minutes from its last meeting.

The 6 p.m. meeting will take place Monday in the Bertha Ann Young City Commission Chambers at City Hall, at 16 W. 9th St.