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City manager says ‘Good things happening’ in Larned
Groundbreaking for new Dollar General set for next week
New larned officers
New Larned police officers Samuel Sullivan, left, and Jeremiah Slattery were recognized at Monday’s city council meeting for completing Kansas Law Enforcement Academy training. Larned PD Capt. Lance Duft said the officers’ addition brings the department to full staff for the first time in four years.

Larned City Council meeting at a glance

Here is a look at what the Larned City Council did Monday evening:

• Held a hearing to amend the city budget, with no objections received.

• Approved consent agenda including the purchase of a pump for the Larned Municipal Swimming Pool at a cost of $6,215; cereal malt beverage license renewals for container retailers Kwik Shop, Casey’s General Store and Dillons and general retailer Pizza Hut; and restricted transfers at the request of City Financial Director Monica Steiner on restricted transfers from the Electric Reserve Fund to the Capital Improvement Fund in the amount of $238,124.50, to cover expenses including demolition of the Opera House building and purchase of property at 400 Broadway ($169,974.50), demolition of three properties approved July 5 and demolition of six properties approved Nov. 7 ($26,900).

• Approved Appropriations Ordinance No. 11 in the amount of $853,425.86 plus transfers.

• Heard public comments from residents Jim Hulsey regarding park basketball goals needing repair.

• Recognized Larned Police Department officers Samuel Sullivan and Jeremiah Slattery for graduation from the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Academy. Also recognized was Tim Strickland for obtaining his Kansas Wastewater II Certification as an employee of the Larned Wastewater Plant.

• Discussed the purchase of a city-supplied transformer at a cost of $24,000 and for Midwest Energy’s installation at an estimated cost of $21,585.999 for the construction of a new Dollar General Store in Larned. The council also discussed the construction of the new store with Aaron Kirkpatrick representing the builder.

• Discussed a proposed electric system improvement plan with Midwest Energy Operations Manager Don Augustine encompassing a number of improvement projects including substation, distribution tie-ins, conversions and generation totalling an estimated $1.3 million.

• Approved a Housing and Market Assessment Study toward a 10-year forecast of community housing needs. Novogradac, of Merriam, Kan., was the lower of two bidders at a cost of $20,000.

• Discussed a long-term street improvement plan with City Street Superintendent Alan Taylor.

• Discussed a request for a two-month time extension toward resolution of the city with parties involved in the city’s CDBG waterline project.

• After discussion, approved a flat 3% COLA adjustment for FY 2023 for city employees, with no merit award, with an opportunity to review the adjustment by the April council meeting.

• Approved the repeal of non-valid EMS city ordinances due to the transfer of the service to Pawnee County.

• Approved publication of the City manager’s base salary as required by ordinance.

LARNED — Larned City Manager Brad Eilts added a heartfelt footnote to the two-hour meeting of the Larned City Council Monday.

The session opened with recognitions of city employees and segued into discussion of a new retail store, as well as a long-term plan with the city electrical department partner Midwest Energy, a  long-term housing study and a comprehensive discussion of city streets with Street Department Superintendent Alan Taylor.

“This was really a pretty amazing meeting, because tonight the council covered so many long-term items,” he said. “Beginning with the recognitions, we have a city staff that’s growing, becoming more efficient and educated in what they are doing and that’s a real positive.

“We have an economic development project that will add to the overall community and we’re talking about investing a million dollars into our electrical system, in the first phase of several. Our council has said that housing is important to us and we are investing in a housing study that is going to make a long-term impact. A comprehensive discussion of our street infrastructure is another of some really big things.

“I just wanted to point out that this is a really great way to end the year. As we go into this next year, we will continue that momentum of good things happening. For our employees, it’s exciting because they see the community improving and we are heading towards something that I take great pride in.”

Dollar General

Aaron Kirkpatrick of Rupe Helmer Group, of Tulsa Okla., told the council that his firm is the developer and general contractor for the new Dollar General building to be built on E. 14th St. It is his company and not Dollar General that will pay the cost of connections. He asked the council for an installed transformer at a total cost of $45,000.

“We would own the building and then lease it to Dollar General on a 15-year lease,” he said. Kirkpatrick noted that the current Dollar General at 510 E. 14th St. will relocate to the new building. “The new store will attract more customers. It is the larger market store, as Dollar General calls it; it will be 13,000 square feet, compared to the existing store which is 9,000. They are going to have fresh produce there.”

Of the $45,000 requested, $24,000 would be for the new transformer, with the remaining as installation costs. 

“This is not an expense that we generally cover,” Kirkpatrick noted. Ralph Streit, electrical distribution superintendent, told the council that the transformer would be ordered and is of the same type planned for the Assembly of God Church construction already ongoing. The council approved a 50/50 cost share for the transformer cost and installation. 

Kirkpatrick said that the real estate purchase was to close later in the week and when it is done they will be ready to break ground next Monday, Dec. 12. “These are just the last pieces of the puzzle,” he said.

Midwest Energy Improvement Plan

Don Augustine, Operations Manager for Midwest Energy, led the council through plans for the first phase of an electrical system improvement plan for the city, estimated at $1.3 million. Beginning with the city’s three substations at an estimated cost of $264,000, will be the replacement of 1960-vintage breakers and installation of relays, meters and a PLC control system for the Santa Fe substation. Augustine noted that due to delivery times, the operation would begin in the third quarter of 2023.

Tie-in line projects will include adding transformers that would redistribute customer load to reduce the footprint in a possible outage from 10 homes to possibly three or four. Tie-in subtotal cost is estimated at $287,000.

Additionally, Augustine noted that the long-term plan for the electrical system is to convert the voltage from 2,4000 to 7,970. Dual-voltage transformers would allow changeover over a number of years. Subtotal conversion cost including materials and labor is estimated at $300,000. The conversion would begin with a two-block changeout in the spring.

Lastly, the plan would be to replace old and obsolete generator control systems for the city’s Cat and Colt generators. Streit noted that the Colt generator still had the original 1976 controls that would need to be upgraded to an automated system. Estimated subtotal for the generation projects would be about $140,000.

“This is something that we’ve been talking about for a while, that we needed to be able provide good, clean, reliable power to our customers,” noted Mayor William Nusser. “We appreciate Midwest’s partnership with us.”

Council unanimously among members present approved the plan as proposed.

Novogradac housing study

With the objective of obtaining a 10-year forecast of Larned’s housing needs, the council approved a proposal from Novogradac, of Merriam, Kan., as the lower of two bidders at a cost of $20,000. The independent study would be a tool for developers interested in the community. The study would be a component in seeking moderate-income level housing opportunities in the community. 

City Manager Eilts noted that the study would be integral to future development plans. “We are doing things with infrastructure, other positive things, but if we don’t do anything with housing, we won’t grow,” he said. Council then unanimously approved the Novogradac study among members present.