During their final April meeting Tuesday evening, the Fort Scott City Commission approved the appointment of JoLynne Mitchell as the new mayor of the board while Sam Mason was named the president of the commission.
Former mayor Cindy Bartelsmeyer, who had held the position the previous three years, nominated Mitchell to the position and the other commissioners approved the appointment unanimously.
“We appreciate your three years of service,” Mitchell said to Bartelsmeyer, adding she is unsure that she can fill those shoes.
Bartelsmeyer expressed confidence that Mitchell would be able to do so.
“I feel like the city is moving in a very positive, upward way,” Bartelsmeyer said, adding she enjoyed her time as mayor. “We’ve gotten a lot accomplished and I think we’re all proud of that as commission members.
Recent commission addition Randy Nichols was also named the Fort Scott Housing Authority delegate while commissioner Jim Adams was appointed the commission’s Bourbon County Economic Development Council, Inc., representative.
The commissioners also received an update from Reta Baker, Chamber of Commerce board chairman and representative for the transient guest tax committee, concerning the goal to purchase a new trolley for the city’s traditional trolley rides, which have been unavailable for some time since the retirement of Dolly the Trolley.
“There really is something very engaging about a trolley tour,” Baker said, saying the ride with a narrator provides an enjoyable opportunity to learn about the community and ask questions without visitors having to drive or find information on their own.
Baker said the trolley tours in Fort Scott had a decrease in riders before they ended, but said that was likely at least partially a result of the unreliability of Dolly. Baker said they believe a new trolley would recapture some of those numbers.
After looking at a number of new and used trolleys, Baker said they narrowed it down to three and then to their favorite, a new 2015 diesel model that can accommodate 22 to 24 passengers and is handicap accessible. The trolley will be brought to Fort Scott next week for a trial run before purchase.
So far, the fund for the new trolley has received $23,500 from the sale of the old trolleys and an additional $20,500 raised through fundraisers. A bid for a loan brought an interest rate of 2.49 percent from City State Bank for six years of quarterly payments of about $3,600, with the first coming in August.
Baker said they decided to seek a loan instead of raising the funds in advance in order to have a trolley available before the summer months.
“We’re coming up on prime tourism season,” Baker said. “And the longer we put off replacing the trolley, marketing and promoting it, then the more lost opportunity we have to really give people a wonderful experience in our community.
Director of finances Jon Garrison said there are ample funds available from the transient guest tax, coming from those visitors staying at hotels and not from Fort Scott residents, so there should be no problem making payments.
The commission unanimously accepted the transient guest tax committee’s request to purchase the trolley.