Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:
• Approved Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund grants for: Hoisington Hospitality LLC. (Rodeway Inn and Suites), Hoisington, for $29,676, retaining 6.25 positions; and Industrial Services of Kansas, rural Great Bend, for $5,000, retaining one position.
• Heard a report from county Grant Administrator Sue Cooper on remaining EDRLF grant requests. There was $114,676 available for use in the fund.
On May 26, the commission set a deadline of noon, Friday, May 29, to receive applications for the funds.
This included three more applications: Ernstings Inc. of rural Ellinwood for $30,000, retaining 4.2 positions; Quality Design Construction of rural Great Bend for $25,000, retaining five positions; and Kansas Trophy Experience of rural Great Bend for $25,000, retaining one position.
All of these were approved as well, expending all of the money available for the grants.
• Approved a Kansas Health Foundation Healthy Community Initiative Health Equity Mini-Grant to the Great Bend Senior Center.
The Kansas Health Foundation awarded $18,908 to center. This project was a resident-led approach to address COVID-19 related food storage and preservation to respond to the increase in demand for meal preparation and delivery services for the elderly in Great Bend, Hoisington, Ellinwood and La Crosse. The funds will be used to purchase food preservation equipment such as refrigeration, freezers, shelving and preparation areas at the Great Bend Senior Center. The commission authorized the pass-through of funds to the center.
• Approved the rebuild of the Caterpillar wheel tractor compactor for the Barton County Landfill.
In 2015, the Solid Waste Department purchased a Caterpillar Model 826K Wheel Tractor Compactor from Foley Equipment. This piece of equipment is used daily to reduce the amount of space needed for trash, County Administrator Phil Hathcock said.
This action authorizes Foley to rebuild the power train, recondition all cylinders, replace hydraulic hoses, reseal control values and condition the lift yoke. Other work includes an update to the cab, air conditioning and heating systems, replacing a broken compactor tip, new paint and decals and updated cleaner bar and finger system.
The work, which comes with a three-year 5,000 hour power train and hydraulic warranty, is estimated at $359,852. Funds are available in the Solid Waste fund for this purpose, Hathcock said.
To replace it with a new machine would cost about $800,000, he said.
• Approved two change orders for the Phase IV construction project at the landfill, totalling $8,898.24. These involve job contractor Mahm Construction having to fix some tears in the existing landfill liner and having to excavate more soil than anticipated.
• Heard a report from county Interim Heatlh Director Karen Winkelman on the COVID-19 response in the county.
The Barton County Commission last Tuesday, May 26, approved one Economic Development Revolving Load Fund working capital grant for First Class Auto Design, Hoisington. But, to assure the funds were dolled out fairly to help as many COVID-19-hit businesses as possible, it tabled grants to Rodeway Inn and Suites, Hoisington, and Industrial Services of Kansas, rural Great Bend, and set a hard deadline of noon Friday, May 29, for additional applications.
With a total of $114,676 at their disposal, commissioners approved these two, plus three others when they met Monday morning. The grant funds are now depleted, allowing the county to apply for more from the state, county Grant Administrator Sue Cooper said.
“I think it’s really good to see that this money is being allocated in order to help local businesses.” Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. “We’ve been sitting on this for a long time and it hasn’t kept helped anyone, so I’m glad to see it going out.”
Approved were Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund grants for: Hoisington Hospitality LLC. (Rodeway Inn and Suites), Hoisington, for $29,676 (they had requested $50,000), retaining 6.25 positions; and Industrial Services of Kansas, rural Great Bend, for $5,000, retaining one position.
They also OKed grants for: Ernstings Inc. of rural Ellinwood for $30,000, retaining 4.2 positions; Quality Design Construction of rural Great Bend for $25,000, retaining five positions; and Kansas Trophy Experience of rural Great Bend for $25,000, retaining one position.
A matter of fairness
Back on May 26, the commission set a deadline of noon, Friday, May 29, to receive applications for the funds.
“I really wanted to table this last week so that we could allow everybody to apply and we can look at them as a group and then let the money go out,” Schartz said Monday. She wanted to look at all the requests as a package and “to try to get everyone as much as they wanted, without going overboard with any one business.”
The Commission had already authorized a $25,000 Community Development Block Grant loan from the EDLF for First Class Auto. But, a week later, the Kansas Department of Commerce determined the EDRLF could be used as grants, and First Class Auto changed its application to a grant.
The fund is part of a KDC program utilizing United States Department of Agriculture funds. The agency has relaxed requirements and urged use the money to help struggling businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The national objective of this federally funded Kansas Department of Commerce program is job retention, and the money must be used for working capital, Cooper said. The guidelines set by the USDA define that as salaries and wages, purchase of inventory, utilities, rent, insurance payments, etc.
And there are caps to the amount that can be granted, she said. A business with fewer than five full-time employees may apply for a maximum of $30,000, and six to 50 full-time employees a maximum of $50,000. Also, at least 51% of a business’s employees must be considered low-to-moderate income.
Cooper said all the grants meet the requirement that the jobs maintained meet the low-to-moderate income requirement.
Funding was available for businesses located in Barton County that are situated outside the city limits of Great Bend. This includes companies in Hoisington, Ellinwood, Claflin, and other rural areas. Both the county and the City of Great Bend offer such funding, with the city covering businesses in its city limits. Both entities utilize Dodge City-based Great Plains Development to administer the money.
The county’s fund dates back to 1987 when a $400,000 load was made to Delany Feed Yard (now Barton County Feeders).