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City of Hoisington to double support for Chamber of Commerce
Council considers two land offers, but budget leaves little wiggle room
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Monday night, Hoisington City Council members Chris Smith and Richard Rubio considered photos of two pieces of land that have been offered to the city by two Hoisington residents. - photo by Veronica Coons

HOISINGTON — With plans for the Hoisington Labor Day celebration greatly scaled back this year due to concerns over COVID-19, the Hoisington Chamber of Commerce sent out a letter to donor friends this past week asking for their continued support this year and next through sponsorship of the 2021 celebration. In light of the Chamber’s importance to the city’s ongoing economic development, City Manager Jonathan Mitchell asked council members Monday night to consider increasing the usual financial support the city has routinely provided each year. 

“Giving $5,000 sets a really good example for our other businesses and organizations that are maybe wondering what to do with the chamber,” he said. “The chamber still needs the public’s help to remain viable.” 

The amount, Mitchell said, is significant but not so much so that others might put off giving as well. In light of the fact city employees will not be needed to volunteer for various setup and take-down needs or to help run events this year, the council discussed the value of like-kind giving in years past. Council members approved the $5,000 suggested donation, which essentially doubles the financial donation the city routinely has given in recent years. 

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The fishing pond located at teh South Town Nature Strip is currently owned by Terry Nech, Hoisington. A few years ago, the retired school teacher acquired the property, turning it into a fishing pond that families in the area could bring their children to learn enjoy the sport of fishing and view wildlife. He recently approached the city with an offer to sell it to the city for $12,000, an amount that reflects the actual cash he said he’s spent to improve the property. - photo by Veronica Coons
Property acquisition opportunities

In other business, during his operations report, Mitchell shared two recent offers the city has received from residents seeking to both sell and gift land to the city, with a few strings attached. 

Terry Nech offered the city an opportunity to cash him out and take ownership of the South Town Fishing Pond located south of Hoisington on U.S. 281. Over the years, he estimates he has poured about $12,000 into the project there, including the purchase of the land, excavation, and some minor construction. 

The pond, located near Beckett and Forest Avenues, is a shallow 3 to 4.5 feet deep and is stocked with bullhead catfish. It has been a project of Nech’s in recent years, and he has poured mostly his own money and labor into creating an environment where families and children can go to fish bullhead catfish close to home. Nech has stocked the pond himself, and since the pond is privately owned and stocked, no fishing license is required, according to a 2018 Great Bend Tribune report. He also stocks a few fishing poles at the wooden pergola by the pond, making fishing accessible to anyone who wants to try. 

Over the years, USD 431 students have visited the pond for various class projects, and it has been embraced by the Scenic Byway committee. 

In 2018, Nech asked for and received from the city a grant of $1,500 from the transient guest tax fund to share the cost of drilling a well to ensure a consistent water level at the pond. The council was enthusiastic, agreeing the pond provides a valuable amenity for the city which improves the quality of life of residents and provides visitors with yet another activity they can enjoy during their stay. 

The presentation, however, came on the heels of the an agenda item earlier in the meeting concerning the replacement of the main engine, Engine 8, at the power plant. That project is a top priority because replacement parts are becoming extremely scarce due to obsolescence. It will cost and estimated $1.5 million, and the city is looking into funding options that will not impact the city’s revenue stream or require an increase in mills.

“I’m not so sure I’m as excited about taking possession of a property that we’re just going to have to mow, and maintain and keep up at this time,” Mitchell said. “Maybe, if we weren’t looking at a new engine for the power plant and we weren’t seeing the slowdown of sales tax dollars due to COVID-19, it would be a little different conversation.” 

The other offer comes from the owners of Manweiler Chevrolet. They are in possession of a strip of land located between the street and the railroad tracks south of the dealership, spanning a few blocks from Main Street to just past Vine Street. Most of that property is improved for parking, but the western-most part is unimproved. It is that unimproved land that Manweiler is offering to give to the city, provided the city will pay for the surveying and other fees involved in the transfer.  

Mitchell noted the ground used to be mowed by the City of Hoisington up until a few years ago. Around that time, the city looked into ownership of several odd pieces of land it had been mowing for some time and informed the rightful owners it would be their responsibility to keep it mowed. Manweiler’s was among those who were approached, Mitchell said. Having the city accept the land made sense, Mitchell said. He asked for the council’s okay to work with John and Gene Manweiler on the Vine Street property. Council members, save for a couple who gave a nod, were non-committal.