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Appointed committee will advise on Municipal Building/Fire Station

Appointed committee will advise on Municipal Building/Fire Station

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The Waverly News

WAVERLY – Seven Waverly citizens have answered the call to advise the mayor and city council on the proposed municipal building/fire station.

At the Waverly City Council meeting on Nov. 9, Ken Ellis, Adam Goodman, Patricia Heather, Tony Larson, John Lewis, Cole Stark and Shauna Walker were approved for the Mayor’s Municipal Building/Fire Station Advisory Committee.

According to items provided in the city council agenda packet, the committee will advise the mayor and city council during all phases of development of the proposed facility, which will house the municipal offices and the fire station.

A new fire station is needed because of a lack of space in the current facility. Similar issues at the existing municipal building, which prompted the proposal to possibly combine the two facilities into one structure.

The committee’s first task will be to review the proposals received from planning/engineering/architectural firms to conduct a study to determine the need for the facility. The city council budgeted $25,000 in the 2021-22 fiscal year for the study.

The deadline for the proposals was Oct. 22. Now that the committee is in place, they will rank the proposals using a scoring system and create a short list of potential consultants. They may interview these firms, if needed.

The committee will then make a recommendation to the city council and mayor for the firm they would like to see chosen. The final decision is up to the city council.

The firm that is chosen will act as a consultant for the pre-development planning phase of the project and report recommendations to the mayor and city council.

After the consultant is chosen, the committee’s work will be determined and overseen by the city administrator.

Reach The Waverly News staff at news@newswaverly.com.

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WAVERLY – The Waverly Board of Education will hold a recall election in January after petitioners received the 88 signatures needed to force a vote to remove school board president Andy Grosshans from his position. 

The recall bid was filed by Rebecca Kellner-Ratzlaff following the board’s extension in July of a resolution that gives Waverly Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Cory Worrell the authority to make decisions on the district’s COVID-19 response without waiting for a scheduled school board meeting or calling a special meeting. 

“In passing this resolution, Mr. Grosshans silences the representation he was elected to uphold by his constituents,” Kellner-Ratzlaff wrote in her request for petitions filed on Sept. 7.

Grosshans’ defense statement included with the petition read: “For 12+ years, I have worked hard to make well-informed decisions to provide the students of District 145 with a safe environment in which to receive an outstanding education. In these difficult times, I hope for continued understanding and patience as we use key resources and area experts to do what’s in the best interest of all students.” 

The resolution was developed and approved at the start of the pandemic in April 2020, and the school board voted on July 5 to extend the resolution for the duration of the 2021-22 school year. 

Grosshans said the school’s attorney, Justin Knight, estimated that 90% of Nebraska school districts adopted similar resolutions in the 2020-21 school year, and approximately 40% readopted the resolutions for the current school year. Knight told Grosshans that many school districts felt like the worst of the pandemic had passed and that they could “let their guard down” for 2021-22.

“We didn’t feel that things were over yet and that we could afford to do that,” Grosshans said. “We felt it was important that Dr. Worrell had the ability to make quick decisions. These things with COVID can happen very, very rapidly, and if we have to rely on calling a meeting where it’s days out, then sometimes we’re losing valuable time.” 

The risk of COVID-19 transmission in Lancaster County is still high, according to the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department’s risk dial.

In August, Worrell exercised his authority granted by the resolution, choosing to follow a recommendation from the LLCHD that children under the age of 12 wear masks in school. Masks are currently required for all pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students in District 145.

On Sept. 6, District 145 parents attended the school board’s regularly scheduled meeting to voice their concerns over the decision to require masks in school. One parent, Angie Stara, co-founded a Facebook group called “Unmask Our Dist. 145 Kids,” and wrote in an email to The Waverly News after the meeting explaining that the group’s goal was “to get the school board members to take back the power they gave to the superintendent, back in July, to make all COVID-related decisions solely by himself.”  

The next day, Kellner-Ratzlaff filed for the petition to recall Grosshans. She was part of the “Unmask Our Dist. 145 Kids” group and in August had been active in petitioning against the school board’s initial decision to require masks for the 2021-22 school year. Kellner-Ratzlaff could not be reached for comment. 

Grosshans said he understands why citizens are frustrated, but he said the district’s COVID-19 response has been geared toward ensuring students receive an in-person education.

“I’m like everybody, I don’t like wearing a mask any more than anybody else does,” Grosshans said. “But I have a responsibility to the students and staff of this district to do everything we can to keep people safe and healthy while also providing the best option for quality education.”

Grosshans was a write-in candidate for the Waverly school board Ward 4 seat in the 2020 election. He had previously served on the school board since 2008 but hadn’t planned to run for the seat in 2020. No other candidates filed to run by the March 2, 2020 deadline, and the pandemic made its first impact locally that month.

“I thought, well, I’ll go ahead and try to serve another term to help get through this really difficult time,” Grosshans said. “By that point, I had to run as a write-in candidate, and by its very nature, that’s going to attract a lot fewer votes.” 

He won the election with 101 votes out of 249 total. For a recall petition to be sufficient under state statute 32-1303 (1), it must receive signatures totaling at least 35% of the number of votes cast in the general election. Rounded up, 35% of 249 works out to 88. 

Now, the nearly 1,400 voters in Ward 4 will receive mail-in ballots that read: “Shall Andy Grosshans be removed from the office of the Board of Education of Lancaster County School District 55-145, a/k/a Waverly School District 145?” Voters will then check “Yes” or “No.” Ballots must be returned to the Lancaster County Election Commission by 5 p.m. on Jan. 11.

Sam Crisler is a reporter for The Waverly News. Reach him via email at sam.crisler@wahoonewspaper.com.

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