The Ogallala City Council voted to expand public transit hours and to allow approved ATV's and UTV's to pull approved trailers, as well as heard from an Ogallala Volunteer Fire Department representative on the current state of the department and some changes that have been made to the department's by-laws.
First, in the Ogallala Volunteer Fire Department, firefighter Dell Simmerman addressed the council, in Interim Fire Chief Ken Knoepful's absence, regarding some changes to the department's by-laws. The department voted to change language in the by-laws to address the entirely volunteer status of the department, and to add a list of minimum requirements for officers. The language changes focused mainly on changing the fire chief position from an appointed position to an elected one. While Simmerman was at the podium, Councilman Mark Knudsen asked him if he could offer some insight into the atmosphere within the department since the removal of the paid fire chief position. Simmerman said the volunteers are taking a lot of pride and ownership in the department and membership is holding steady.
In the Ogallala Public Transportation Department, the council approved expanding the hours for transportation. Beginning July 2, the Ogallala Public Transit will operate from 7am to 7pm Monday through Friday, with Saturdays remaining the same at 8am to 4pm. The public bus will continue not to run on Sundays. During the discussion on the topic, Transportation Director Carol Maxson explained that the hour changes were made based on a number of requests from the public and responses to public surveys. Ogallala City Manager Bruce Smith said the public transportation department is 3/4 funded by the state and federal governments, and the expansion of hours will not cost the city much, if any, additional funding. Maxson said the department currently has the personnel and budget to expand service to the community. The expansion does nothing to the fares. It is still $1.50 per ride within city limits, with a 10-ride pass for $12. And it's still $2 per ride outside city limits, with a 10-ride pass for $16.
The council also voted to approve a resolution that allows for approved ATV's and UTV's to carry approved trailers on city streets. The police department has the necessary information and permits needed for such vehicles and trailers.
Lastly, the council recognize an Ogallala Police Officer for his accomplishments, including two recent awards. Officer Tom Hudiburgh was recently given the local VFW Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, as well as the VFW National Law Enforcement Award. Officer Hudiburgh has been on the Ogallala force since 2004 and is involved in the local SWAT Team, DARE program, police training programs, and a list of other roles. Mayor Buck Bassett said the city is fortunate to have such a dedicated officer in Ogallala, and praised Police Chief David Kling for operating a department that attracts and retains such high quality officers.
The next Ogallala City Council meeting will be held at 7:30pm on Tuesday, July 10, at the city administration building.
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