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Anonymous donation to bolster law enforcement image
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 In other business Monday night, the Great Bend City Council:

• Approved a request for no-parking signs made by Recreation Commission Executive Director Diann Henderson. She asked for the signs be installed in the cul-de-sac located on Jefferson Street near the south entrance of the new My BackYard Playground at 2715 18th Street. Also OKed was the establishment of no-parking areas.

In the past, old no-parking signs were located in that area when it was utilized as a front entrance to Morrison Elementary School. This signage ensures area remains free from parking vehicles that will block the south playground entrance, which poses as a safety hazard for children entering and exiting the playground. Additionally, parked vehicles have blocked the alley entrance and the trash dumpsters on the west side of the cul-de-sac. 

• Approved a allowing Mayor Mike Allison to sign letter of support for housing tax credits at the request of Overland Property Group. The group is prepared to submit an application to the Kansas Housing Resource Corporation for the next phase of its Reserves at Trail Ridge apartment complex. The group plan to add 48 more units. 

It was noted that all the current apartments are full and there is a lengthy waiting list.

• Approved a resolution adopting the Multi Hazard, Multi-Jurisdictional Mitigation Plan as prepared by Barton County Emergency Management at the request of Barton County Emergency Management Director Amy Miller. The city has adopted this plan in the past.

The updated South Kansas Region E Mitigation Plan was developed as a Regional Jurisdictional Mitigation Plan for Barton, Barber, Comanche, Edwards, Kiowa, Pawnee, Pratt and Stafford Counties. Hazard mitigation is a technical term for reducing risk to people and property from natural hazards. It includes structural measures, such as protecting buildings and infrastructure from the forces of wind and water, as well as non-structural measures, such as natural resource protection and wise floodplain management. 

These activities can help protect both existing development and, by mitigating potential hazards to new construction, future development, Partington said. A mitigation plan will ensure that measures to reduce the present and future vulnerability of a jurisdiction are thoroughly considered before, during, and after a disaster strikes. 

The plan identifies the natural and state-mandated hazards associated with the county, but it is developed primarily to address hazards classified as high and moderate in the probability and vulnerability (severity) analysis model. Hazards will be reviewed on a routine basis with plan updates as circumstances change. In addition, there is to be a yearly review on actions that have been submitted by plan participants.

• Heard an economic development report from Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President Jan Peters.

• Approved abatements at: 2815 Broadway, accumulation of refuse, owned by Hammond Investments; and 1101 Morphy, accumulation of refuse, owned by Lazaro & Yolanda Guerra.

 An donor who wishes to remain anonymous approached Golden Belt Community Foundation Executive Director Christy Tustin a few months back worried about the image of law enforcement in light of several high-profile national incidents.

“This was a very heart-felt and serious concern,” Tustin said as she addressed the Great Bend City Council Monday night. While local officers aren’t facing the same criticism and negative attention, the donor wanted to do something to help promote the positive side of law enforcement and to help tell the stories that often aren’t told or are difficult for the officers or departments to tell themselves.

“They felt that law enforcement should be recognized in a positive image in our community,” Tustin said. There will be three parts to the six-month project and the donor is providing a grant to support these efforts. 

First, the funds will cover the cost of hiring a freelance writer to generate stories that will appear in the Great Bend Tribune, beginning Jan. 9 with the first article on Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. Following that first article, there will be individual officer stories that will run through June 2016.

Second, she hopes to increase interaction between officers and the schools. This will help the students develop a positive image of law enforcement.

The final part is creating a video – “Why I Wear the Badge” – which is a campaign of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. This was originally suggested by Police Chief Cliff Couch. 

“I think it will be quite powerful and useful in sharing their message of how and why the officers chose this line of work to serve the community and its residents,” Tustin said. This should be done by the end of February or the first of March.

“This is kind of a different project,” Tustin said. But, “we’ve had a lot of support. It is exciting.”