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City officials shocked by removal of tree near library
Ash tree was obstructing view of new sign
new deh library tree-sign pic for web
A Great Bend Public Library employee cuts down a tree in the northwest corner of the library parking lot Tuesday morning. The tree was removed so the new digital sign at the corner could be seen. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

 On Friday afternoon, Mark’s Custom Signs employees installed a digital sign for Central Kansas Library System at the northwest corner of the Great Bend Public Library parking lot. 

On Tuesday, a 20-year-old tree just west of the sign that obscured the display was cut down by the library maintenance man at the request of library and CKLS Director Harry Willems.

However, the tree, like the parking lot itself, is city property and library personnel didn’t seek permission first, City Administrator Howard Partington said. “It was a really nice ash tree.”

“It came as a complete surprise to us,” Partington said. “No one had the courtesy to mention it to the city.”

The action was brought to Partington’s attention by a city employee. “I was shocked,” he said.

Now, “We’ll evaluate our options and see what steps can be taken.”

The Great Bend Tribune tried to contact Willems, but he was unavailable for comment.

The Great Bend City Council March 7 granted CKLS permission to install the sign along Broadway, but it took a compromise and a tie-breaking vote from Mayor Mike Allison to pass. The request from Willems raised concerns among city officials since the sign would stand on city property.

The sign stands about 16 feet with “Central Kansas Library System” and running vertically and cost about $36,000. The display would be about eight by five feet with the library’s 1409 Williams address, and “Beyond the Book” and “Great Bend Public Library” at the top, in smaller type.

City staff members worried about the location along Broadway instead of Williams, the sign highlighting the library system instead of the library and the location of the sign.  

Willems originally proposed a sign halfway between Williams and Stone streets. Since it will be on the city-owned parking lot, Marks Custom Signs suggested CKLS needed an official OK. 

In the deal, Willems agreed to have the installation moved, closer to Broadway and Stone and nearer the CKLS entrance on the west side of the library.

CKLS paid for the sign. And, since CKLS was paying, it wanted it to feature the library system. 

Also, the sign raises awareness of CKLS, which has served libraries and schools since 1966. It is housed in the basement of the library and covers 17 counties: Barton, Cloud, Ellis, Ellsworth, Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, Ottawa Pawnee, Phillips, Republic, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Saline and Smith.

Willems said usage of the sign would be split at least in half between both entities.

He was also adamant about a Broadway site. It was suggested to place it on Williams, but Willems said if it didn’t go on Broadway, he’d cancel the project.

Guthrie suggested boring under the parking lot to one of the utility poles for power with a demand meter. Moving the sign means less tunneling.