- City Commission clarifies ordinance
Marcus Clem | editor in chief
An unusually max-capacity audience at the Pittsburg City Commission meeting served as a background for hours of petitions and debate on Tuesday, Nov. 26.
After hearing petitions and holding discussion on the issue, the commission unanimously voted in Ordinance G-1196, which defines a table of standards for recorded decibel (dB) limits for various areas of the city.
The areas of greatest concern are residential and commercial areas, and specifically the downtown overlay district that includes both. The overlay district was adopted at the commission’s meeting on Nov. 12.
Most districts now operate on a 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. elevated-noise permission schedule. The overlay’s schedule extends to 1 a.m. and allows for the loudest noise that will be permitted in city limits, excepting heavy industrial areas.Enforcement redefined
It was all over the issue of how much noise may be made by the city’s residents and businesses and how late at night.
Until now, the question has had a vague answer that relied mostly on guidelines and the subjective judgment of police officers, who have typically acted in response to neighbor or other resident complaints, city officials say.
“The noise ordinance does tend to be complaint driven,” said Mendy Hulvey, police chief, “but it doesn’t mean we are not proactive as much as practical.”
The new ordinance allows police to use noise-measuring equipment to judge how to act. A verbal or written warning may then be issued, or the officer may decide to issue a citation.
The equipment also has uses as evidence in court, serving essentially the same role as a radar-gun measurement in prosecuting speeding violations.
Debate and controversy
Emotions ran high during the petitions as residents argued either that the reform is needed for a better downtown or constitutes an infringement on residents’ rights.
The city has adopted a broad variety of grants, tax incentives and new sets of rules to promote a goal that envisions a downtown where more people live and more people spend their money.
David Fish, an architect and resident of the downtown area, was the most vocal opponent to the changes.
“This ordinance was enacted to benefit one specific group,” Fish said in his petition, “people who are breaking the current laws and know they are and are working to coerce others to change the law to their benefit.
“Who amongst us in this district (does the city government) represent besides bar owners, band members and barflies? … The solution does not involve creating new law. It involves pressing bar owners to … stop playing their music so loud.”
Heather L. Horton, owner of Sweet Designs Cakery on 311 N. Broadway, was one of the merchants who petitioned for the reform.
“Up until today, there hasn’t been much excitement here,” Horton said. “Things are actually starting to happen in this university city, and we don’t treat it that way, especially in downtown.
“We deal with the noise. It hasn’t hurt us at all. We have neighbors we didn’t have before. We’ve adapted, changed and we are still changing.”
Becky Harriman, a resident of the downtown area, said that the commission has advanced last month’s plans to reform municipal law for the area too quickly.
“I don’t believe that the residents of Pittsburg have any idea what is being proposed,” she said. “There’s been no recent mention of this … in any media.
“I request that the city delay action on this until we can contact more people and give them a chance to express their concerns.”
Larry Douglas, another resident, argued that the reform should not be held up by the concerns of a minority of residents.
“My understanding is that people who live next door hear you, they can complain,” he said. “Probably because they were left out of your good time.
“We need definition of our noise ordinance. It’s got to be done for everybody’s benefit and some detriment.”
- They can do WHAT?
Athletes showcase talent during second annual show
Kelsea Renz | managing editor
Student athletes showed off their diverse talents outside of sports at the second annual Gorillas Got Talent on Tuesday, Dec. 3.
Athletes representing softball, golf, men’s basketball, volleyball, football and baseball performed acts varying from singing to dancing to skits.
“It was a chance to do something outside of my sport,” said Jake Stevenson, junior baseball player. “And it was a chance to bond with my teammates.”
Stevenson and sophomore Kylie Gafford were the masters of ceremony for the talent show. A panel of judges, including John Fatkin, Kristina Willis, Phil Scott, and Kaylee Cole of KIX 102.5, joined them for the competition.
“This year the student athletes took over,” said Heidi Johnson, director of media relations and promotions for athletics. “They committed to finding judges, doing all the graphics, and organizing the whole thing.”
Gorillas Got Talent is both a competition and a way to raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, with a goal of $1,000.
“We raised $861.84 this year, compared to last year’s $650, so not quite the goal but still better than last year,” Johnson said. “Softball earned the most this year with $368.19, which was 43 percent of the total.”
The competition kicked off with a bake sale put on by the women’s basketball team and buckets for each team set out for people to donate.
Softball performed a dance to start off the acts, followed by a skit by golf, another skit by men’s basketball, a dance by volleyball, singing from football, and a dance from baseball. The Crimson & Gold Dancers performed while the donations were totaled.
“The donations also counted toward the final score to determine the winner,” Johnson said. “People could vote for their favorite act by donating to that team.”
The winner of the competition gets the video of their act on the Pitt State athletic YouTube channel and gets to perform at the basketball game half time of their choosing.
Without the donations added into the scores, baseball stood atop the leaderboard with a perfect 40, followed by volleyball with 37 and softball with 34. Once the donations were added, softball was the clear winner.
“We knew we had to bring it on the court and in donations and they just did better than us in donations,” Stevenson said.
The softball girls prided themselves on their accomplishment.
“We beat baseball this year. We are really excited about that,” said Molly Stiens, junior softball player. “We needed to redeem ourselves from last year.”
The crowd also enjoyed the competition.
“We got to see them doing something different,” said Paige Lungwitz, undecided freshman. “It got a lot of people involved and donated a lot of money to Make-a-Wish. It was just a fun event.”
- Deadly disease
Meningitis a concern for universities
Marcus Clem | editor in chief
Young, healthy adults, including college students, generally have few health concerns to fear. One example of a contagious disease that does keep university and public health officials on their toes is bacterial meningitis.
“It is definitely (a disease) where infected people should get on aggressive treatment with high-powered antibiotics,” said Carrie Farrington, nurse practitioner at Bryant Student Health Center.
Ten years ago, in fall 2003, a meningitis emergency struck Pittsburg State just as students were departing for winter break.
University officials and health professionals held emergency sessions on combating the disease that can have a mortality rate, without proper treatment, of as high as 50 percent.
“We had to contact everyone and then mail in scripts to students’ local pharmacies,” said Tess Carl, registered nurse at the health center. “It was an amazing response. It was Christmas Eve, but we all came in and managed to get it done.”
Several Pitt State students were sickened on campus and diagnosed after they had arrived home. They required intensive medical treatment and a regimen of antibiotics.
The response was successful in preventing any student casualties.
College students who live on-campus have a special vulnerability to exposure once the bacteria have been introduced into the environment because those students live in close quarters and have frequent person-to-person contact.
“Obviously, because of the seriousness of the illness,” said Steve Erwin, university co-emergency manager and associate vice president of campus life and auxiliary services, “but also in terms of the students who were diagnosed and also in what we knew about the potential danger, for those who may have been exposed, it was concerning.”
In the aftermath of the outbreak, the university instituted a meningitis vaccination policy for on-campus residents.
“Students have the ability to opt out, but we’re hopeful that they don’t,” Erwin said. Currently, the vaccine is available at the student health center for $90, but will be offered for free to new on-campus residents in the future.
The memory of the outbreak was renewed by news in late November of a new strain, known as serogroup B meningococcal disease, that has struck Princeton University and the University of California, Santa Barbara.
The new strain is of particular public concern because there is no vaccine available in the United States for it; the affected universities have ordered special imports of it from abroad and are offering it on a limited basis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga., has assisted with containing the new disease, but the organization has offered reassurances that a full-fledged epidemic is unlikely.
“I really totally understand the anxiety that cases cause,” said Dr. Amanda Cohn of the CDC, in an online teleconference. “But, we really don’t have evidence (of a risk), and in past outbreaks there hasn’t been a spread to the community.”
- Dishing it out, or not
SGA handles allocations with caution
Marcus Clem | editor in chief
Read the freaking manual.
In essence, that is the message that Rodney Kimlin, Student Government Association (SGA) treasurer and graduate student in communication, wants student clubs to take away from this semester’s allocations experience.
The way Kimlin sees it – with the support of a solid majority of SGA’s senators – the various 50 percent deductions suffered by student clubs were a slap on the wrist.
These organizations, which did not properly submit explanatory appendices to justify their requests for funds, could have been deprived entirely.
“The handbook explains everything,” Kimlin said. “The appendices take some time, but those are needed so I can tell where receipts came from. This is no different from any other government grant. You have to do all the work if you want money.
“The groups that I gave a 50 percent deduction to, they completed half the steps; either no receipts or no appendices. In a class, if you do part of an assignment, you’ll get part of the credit. The organizations that didn’t meet deadlines shot themselves in the foot.”
At SGA’s meeting on Nov. 20, despite Kimlin’s decision to cut penalties to 50 percent, senators came close to voting on a proposal by Sen. Michael Giffin that would have cut off all allocations to the affected clubs.
“There is a reason there is a handbook,” said Giffin, junior in physics and chemistry. “If the handbook calls for a 50 percent deduction, that’s fine and I’m OK with that. But if we publish in the handbook that if you don’t turn in your paperwork, you don’t get anything, then we should enforce those rules.”
Sen. Bryce Schuetz says that cutting off all money should not even have been in question. He is a member of the Interfraternity Council (IFC).
“We explained ourselves in our appeal, and people still wanted to give us nothing,” he said. “I know a lot of senators want to have a firm hand when it comes to allocations, but I don’t think they truly understand where this money comes from.
“It’s an honor to be able to distribute it, but I think some people are getting greedy (with that authority).”
Sen. Lindsay Ong says SGA should strive to avoid creating that kind of image.
“We don’t have to be jerks. The people who did some of the work got some money and people who did none got nothing.” Fine by me
Still, Schuetz added, he thinks Kimlin took the right approach.
“This semester, Rodney let people get by with a few things, but he was still appropriately stern. That’s a good thing to do after all, so people can get a little money.”
Kimberlee Fields, president of the Black Students Association, one of the clubs that received a deduction, concurred that her organization had not precisely followed allocation policy and says she has no complaints about the final decision.
Ong also supports the need for a judicious approach in distributing allocation dollars.
“We have to be conservative and fiscally conscious when we consider the broad range of students and what they can afford to pay,” she said.
Sen. Will Ravenstein says that in the end, it doesn’t matter what people think about the decision; allocations are a privilege that SGA governs.
“I think the process went smoothly and was handled very fairly,” said Ravenstein, senior in communication. “There were groups who shouldn’t have gotten any money, but Rodney was generous enough to allow for infractions to cause only a small cut.”
- Suberu to retire after 15 years
Michael Bauer | Sports Editor
After 15 years of coaching and rebuilding the program to conference prominence, head volleyball coach Ibraheem Suberu has announced his retirement.
The announcement was made Thursday, Nov. 21, just two days after the Gorilla’s season came to an end with a 16-16 overall record.
Suberu said in a Pittsburg State Athletics press release that his decision to retire was a part of his desire to spend more time with his family in his native country, Nigeria.
Suberu took over the program in 1999, and began the process of reversing volleyball’s consistently disappointing history. Prior to his arrival, the Gorillas had an all-time win percentage of only 35 percent.
His inaugural season saw only two victories, but the team improved to a record of 17-11 in 2001. In 2003, the Gorillas won 26 matches. It was the first 20-win season in 11 years.
The banner year also featured a spot in the NCAA Division II Tournament. It would be the first of six trips Pitt State would make to the national tournament in the decade.
“Making this decision was very hard on a lot of levels,” Suberu said. “I am sure it will come as a surprise to the many wonderful people who are significant in many ways to our program.”
Suberu leaves with an overall record of 264-237 as head coach. The Gorillas set the school record in volleyball victories during his tenure.
Assistant coach Jenny Mueller has been named the Gorillas’ interim head coach, effective immediately.
Mueller is in her third season as an assistant. She has previously served as head coach at William Woods University from 2008-10, and was also a head coach at Coffeyville Community College for three years.