It may be time to reevaluate the City of Great Bend’s City Council ward boundaries, Ward 3 Councilman Cory Urban said, addressing the council Monday night.
He said he’s visited with Barton County Clerk Donna Zimmerman to go over the preliminary U.S. Census data. It indicates Great Bend has a population of 14,733
The city is divided into four wards with each covering one-fourth of the residents. So, “the average if you were to divide that by four would be 3,683.”
As it stands now, Ward 1 is 235 people over that number, Ward 2 is 273 people over, Ward 3 is 51 below and Ward 4 is 456 below.
“I’m hoping in the next couple of months to try to bring something to the administration and council and we can kind of look at it and see if we need to move some lines around,” he said.
Clara Barton eyes sliver of city property
Hoisington-based Clara Barton Hospital, which is building a new clinic at Eighth and McKinley in Great Bend, has asked about a city-owned, tear-drop-shaped strip of property near that intersection, City Administrator Kendal Francis said, speaking to the City Council Monday night.
When the city expanded Eighth Street from Grant to McKinley, it required a jog in the street and that created this irregular parcel, he said. City crews have been mowing and maintaining it.
But, Clara Barton is preparing to sod their property adjoining this tract and wanted to know if the city would be interested in sodding its portion.
Through these discussions, they talked about possibly deeding the land to the hospital, he said. They are developing a walking trail around that property and this would benefit that effort.
However, some on the council, including Ward 2 Councilwoman Jolene Biggs, questioned this. “I was just wondering, from an economic development standpoint, what could fit there,” she said.
Ward 3 Councilman Cory Urban said the city had to purchase the land when they realigned the road. “I am kind of curious why we would just give it away for nothing.”
Francis wasn’t certain of the site’s dimensions, estimated it to be no more than 50 feet wide and running for a half block.
With no consensus from the council to hand the property over to Clara Barton, he told the council he would gather more information and present it at a later meeting.
Council OKs upgrades to Langrehr Field
The installation of artificial turf at the Great Bend Sports Complex “is progressing quickly,” City Administrator Kendal Francis told the City Council Monday night. Fields one and two are complete and there has been substantial work on three and four.
That leaves field five that sits off by itself, known as Langrehr Field. Francis was seeking a change order to make more improvements to the facility at Second and Taft.
The council approved a change order allowing Francis to proceed with efforts to build turfed concrete bullpens at the site.
“They currently do not have batting cages or bullpen areas,” he said. The city has already committed to adding a batting cage, but the bullpens are an added expense.
To have project contractor, Hellas Construction, Austin, Texas, build thee bullpens would cost an estimated $49,234. The Great Bend Recreation Commission has pledged $16,411.13 to that project.
This leaves a city balance of $32,822.87.
“It’s a little bit unexpected, but I would recommend we would consider allowing us to move forward with that,” Francis said. “It’s going to allow it to be more competition ready.”
It will also become the home field for the Great Bend High School junior varsity baseball team. “It will give them the same amenities as the other fields at the complex.”
In addition to the bullpens, the batting cage will cost the city $16,923.
The overall turf project was a joint venture among the city, the Great Bend Recreation Commission and USD 428. Francis said the school district declined to share in the Langrehr Field bullpen cost.
However, it was noted that when fields were resurfaced at Veterans Memorial Park, the JV team was forced to use Langrehr.
He needed quick action since Hellas was about ready to wrap up and leave. The contractor has indicated they could be done in two weeks.
The vote was not unanimous. Ward 4 Councilman Brock McPherson, Ward 3 Councilman Cory Urban, Ward 2 Councilman Kevyn Soupiset, Ward 2 Councilwoman Jolene Biggs and Ward 4 Councilman Junior Welsch voted in favor, and Ward 1 Councilman Alan Moeder, Ward 3 Councilman Davis Jimenez and Ward 1 Councilwoman Lindsey Krom-Craven voted against.
City still being considered for Heizer Park grant
Great Bend city officials met with representatives from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks at Heizer Park last week with the topic being a KDWP grant to fund improvements at the facility in the city’s southeast corner.
“It felt favorable,” City Administrator Kendal Francis told the City Council Monday night. A decision on the city’s grant application would probably be made by Thanksgiving.
This is just the first step, he said, noting federal approval is also required. But, with a state recommendation, the final OK is more likely.
Last August, the city in conjunction with the Great Bend Recreation Commission conducted a community survey regarding potential improvements of the park at Eighth and Heizer streets. That identified the four top priorities – new playground equipment, bathrooms, additional lighting for security and then picnic areas.
Some local organizations and businesses have stepped up to offer funding. This grant would help pay for some of the more costly changes.
Airfest soars to great heights
Recapping the 2021 Great Bend Airfest held Sept. 17-19, Great Bend Municipal Airport Manager Martin Miller said he couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.
“Bottom line was, as far as I’m concerned, this was the best show we’ve had. And I was very happy with it,” he told the City Council Monday night. “This was the biggest attendance we’ve ever seen.”
The event is usually held every three years, but was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Miller said the event has been nominated through the International Council of Air Shows for the 2021 Pinnacle Award in the category of a small civilian air show.
Miller said they started planning in late 2020 and wound up with a wide variety of acts, from aerobatics to the Cold War-era Soviet MIG-17 fighter to comedy to a rocket-propelled truck. “The performer mix was great.”
It is a costly undertaking, he said, noting the price tag was $185,000. They did round up $133,000 in sponsorships and gate receipts totaled $47,000.
But, he said the fest couldn’t happen without teamwork, and he thanked all the city and county departments that helped market, set up and provide safety measures. He also thanked the outside volunteers who took part.