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BCC plans to replace Camp Aldrich bunkhouse
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Firefighters fight a fire that destroyed a bunkhouse at Camp Aldrich on Aug. 10 in this file photo from Barton Community College.

Barton Community College officials are still in negotiations with the insurance company when it comes to replacing the Trail’s End Lodge building at Camp Aldrich that was destroyed by fire last August. 

At a BCC Board of Trustees study session on Tuesday, Vice President of Administration Mark Dean said the 40-bed bunkhouse can’t be replaced in time for this year’s summer camps.

That will affect Camp Hope and two church camps that have booked the facility, Dean said. Those groups have been notified and agreed to allow some campers to stay in student housing on the Barton County campus. They will be bused to the Camp Aldrich facility in rural Barton County.

A bug light was suspected of starting the electrical fire on Aug. 10, 2018, although both the State Fire Marshal and the Special Fire Investigator for Barton’s insurance company said the source could not be determined. The college has replacement coverage on the facility, which includes required code upgrades to the facility as well as the inventory of the building. There is a $25,000 deductible.

However, Dean said the college architect’s estimate on a replacement cost was about three times the initial estimate by the insurance company architect.

“Our architect’s initial design with similar size was $650,000 and their firm said $250,000,” Dean said.

“They looked at plans from 1968, when it was built,” he added. At that time, the building was an infirmary designed for about seven occupants. It is now considered a hunting lodge because it includes two bedrooms, a kitchen and restrooms. It also holds 40 bunks, which are used when camps reserve the facility. Without those beds, camps might move to other venues.

“The insurance company wanted specs based on what it was originally built like,” Dean continued. Since replicating the original heavy timber construction would be costly, this is one area where the insurance company’s figures may be higher than the college’s actual cost. After the last fire at Camp Alrich, which destroyed the Dining and Events Center in 2014, the college opted for less expensive, non-combustible materials such as steel.

“It’s been a drawn-out process,” Dean said, noting one insurance meeting lasted more than four hours.

The college can build whatever it wants and the insurance company will reimburse it up to the amount eventually agreed on. So, the next bunkhouse might be larger and could be moved closer to the dining hall. That might solve the problem of water storage for the sprinkler system that will be required; perhaps the two buildings could share the underground water storage that was added to the Dining and Events Center.

The new Dining and Events Center was improved beyond what insurance covered with help from donors. Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman said this might also be an opportunity to “grow the bunkhouse.” Last year, it was noted that a bunkhouse that could hold more campers might be a better option. A 160-bed facility could potentially house all campers in one building.


The trustees’ discussion of facilities also included the artificial turf being added to the softball and baseball diamonds.

“The softball field is all but done,” Dean said. The baseball fields are about three weeks behind schedule because of weather, but all of the work should be done later this month.


Other topics discussed at the study session included the college’s accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Myrna Perkins, chief accreditation officer, said the college is in Year 6 of its 10-year accreditation cycle.

Barton has been continuously accredited since 1974, with the most recent reaffirmation of accreditation occurring in 2013. The college completed the Year 4 Assurance Review in 2017. The next reaffirmation visit will occur in the 2022-23 school year.

Learn more about the accreditation process at the website

Miscellaneous agreements

Each month at the study session, Dr. Heilman includes a “miscellaneous” report of agreements and grants he approved the previous month. Agreements with medical institutions typically allow students to receive training at those sites, with the college and institution agreeing to certain standards. Heilman said the college as more than 600 of these agreements. Those recently approved were:

• An EMS agreement with Atchison County EMS, Atchison

• A Medical Assisting agreement with Lindsborg Community Hospital, Lindsborg

• A Pharmacy Tech agreement with Walgreen’s, Deerfield, Illinois

• An MLT agreement with Lassen Medical Center under St. Elizabeth Community Hospital, Red Bluff, California

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Barton Community College Trustees Mike Minton, left, and Don Learned look at brochures about the college that will be shared with legislators during Higher Education Day, Jan. 17 at Topeka. Barton will have a table at the Capitol. - photo by Susan Thacker

Meeting at a glance

Here’s a quick look at topics discussed Tuesday during the Barton Community College Board of Trustees study session:

• December financial statement

• Facility updates - Artificial turf and Camp Aldrich

• Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation update

• Higher Education Day

• Employee Survey