City Commission discusses roundabouts and generosity

BY CORIE LYNN

The North Vine Corridor project has seen construction in Hays this past year.

With the first roundabout, an hourglass-shaped interchange extending from 32nd to 33rd St, the Hays City Commission asked City Manager Toby Dougherty to give a short update on the response to the new traffic pattern and explain roundabout rules at their Thursday meeting.

Prior to Dougherty’s discussion, the city commissioners, including Vice Mayor Sandy Jacobs were vocal about their support of the roundabout.

“As you are driving north on Vine St,” Dougherty said, “the number one rule of the roundabout is yield to the traffic in the roundabout.”

He then stated that the second rule is to not stop while in the roundabout. Drivers should also note that the same rules for lanes still apply in the roundabout: only cross lanes at dotted lines or gaps, turn left from the left lane and turn right from the right lane.

As drivers continue to learn these new rules to the Hays road, issues have arisen where people do not yield to those driving through or stop while within the roundabout.

According to Dougherty, the City will address this by adding new lights to the yield signs to make them more prominent during the day. Residents can also watch roundabout tutorials on the City’s website.

“Right now, if you go to haysusa.com, on our website there’s a page, I think it’s on the front page, you can click on the North Vine Corridor Project. And we’ve got video simulations of how to drive in a roundabout and tutorials,” Dougherty said.

Prior to Dougherty’s update, Hays Director of Parks Jeff Boyle presented several requests and bids that he had brought to the City Commission the week before.

The first was a request to approve the reimbursement of the Hays Recreation Commission for the 2020 pool season.

According to Boyle, pool numbers were down due to a late opening and the COVID-19, which caused 16,000 fewer visits than previous years.

Boyle’s second presentation was on the award of bid for the installation of a new section of multi-use path, which will connect trails near Hays Medical Center, Hays High School and the Hays Recreation Center.

The bid he requested for approval came from J Corp and totaled almost $391,000.

The final request was that a new contract be approved for the Golf Course Pro Shop manager. Changes to the contract include language allowing the City to assist the shop during unforeseen circumstances as well as pay for minor upgrades within the shop.

The commissioners approved all three requests.

Before concluding the evening, the commissioners used their comment time to discuss generosity of the Hays community.

Commissioner Michael Berges broached the subject with personal stories of having to deliver two pallets of toys for Toys for Tots.

“I think if you took all of the things and weighed the benefits and generosity and good things that came out of this year, they’re going to outweigh the negatives,” he said.

In addition to this act, he was also astounded by the free Christmas dinners provided by United Way of Ellis County and the Schmidt Foundation. These heat and eat meals will be given out Dec. 23 at Thirsty’s.

“The sign-up is by next Wednesday,” Berges said, “and I think they’re trying to give out over 1,500 meals for Christmas.”

While the other commissioners shared his view, Vice Mayor Sandy Jacobs and Mayor Shaun Musil used the topic as a transition into the importance of supporting local businesses.

“All of these businesses in town have really met the challenge this year,” Jacobs said. “We haven’t really had any close that I’m aware of right now. I don’t know that that’s not going to happen, but they’re doing everything they can to keep these businesses open and it really relies on us to spend our dollars.”

Musil concluded the evening by explaining how he has seen this local support and generosity as churches and insurance companies have bought gift cards from his store to give to those in need. The Bricks in Hays, too, are packed with holiday shoppers.

To him, this as well as the opening of the new Hays convention center is evidence that the community will survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our community is coming back. It’s going to come back,” Musil said.

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