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Commission OKs more facade grants
Program goal to improved downtown appearances
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In the ongoing effort to spruce up downtowns countywide, the Barton County Commission Tuesday morning approved more projects as part of  Facade Improvement Grant program.

The goal of the program is to provide financial assistance to businesses and property owners for downtown building front improvements to increase economic prosperity, accessibility, and quality of life in Claflin, Ellinwood, Great Bend and Hoisington, Grant Coordinator Sue Cooper said. 

It is having the desired impact, said District 3 Commissioner Shawn Hutchinson.

“We were hoping it would have a ripple effect,” he said. After one owner applies, neighboring owners may feel like they have to follow suit.

As of now, Cooper said, grants have been approved for all the communities. 

The county has determined communities’ retail centers are areas of “priority funding,” and maps of these defined downtown districts.

Through Dec. 31, grants will be provided in the amount of up to 75% of eligible project costs, with a maximum award of $20,000. Funding is available until program funds are depleted with the intent of the program to have projects in multiple communities.

The plan was approved by the commission Aug. 9 with the inaugural four grants were approved at the Sept. 7 meeting. 

Also on Aug. 9, commissioners approved $300,000 for the program, and on Sept. 21, another $300,000 was added, for a total of $600,000. There is $307,494.04 remaining in funding.

The total amount requested this week was a shade over $133,000. Reviewed and approved were grants for:

• Beugelsdijk Chiropractic, PA – 1309 Williams St., Great Bend, $20,000. This is a $116,047 project to improve the facade and a deteriorating exterior wall.

Commissioners stressed that these grants don’t always have to be for building fronts, but can be for sides that are exposed to street view. 

• Concept Commercials, Inc. – 1018 Kansas Ave., Great Bend, $14,292.78. This building houses a State Farm Insurance and other offices, and is a $19,570 project to remove a shingled facade and make other improvements.

• Concept Commercials, Inc. – 1520 Main St., Great Bend, $20,000. At Main and 16th, this $34,903 effort involves replacing front shingles and new paint.

• Dilly & Doc Creative Studio, LLC. – 1119 Main St., Great Bend, $7,662. This is a $10,216 project for a new awning, front paint, signage and revamped entryway.

• Mi Tierra Restaurant & Bar – 118 E 1st St., Hoisington, $17,692.55. This $23,590 project encompasses facade work as well as an exterior wall restoration.

• Miller’s of Claflin, Inc. – 18 Main St., Claflin, $17,039.24. This is a $22,718 project for a building front including paint and lettering.

• Miller’s of Claflin, Inc. – 200 Main St., Claflin, $4,062.23. This is a $5,416.31 project for a building front including wooden railings and paint.

• Miller’s of Claflin, Inc. – 201 Main St., Claflin, $17,595.71. This is a $23,460 project for a building front including paint and an awning.

• The Beauty Bar Salon, LLC. – 1409 Main St., Great Bend, $15,566. This is a $20,754 effort covers paint, signage and an awning.

So far, Cooper said $475,000 of the $600,000 set aside for the grants has been spent, leaving $175,000. The applications pending total $112,000, meaning there is still $57,000 available.

Applicants continue to come in, but have slowed down, Cooper said.

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Tuesday morning:

• Approved another round of Barton County Facade Grant recipients. 

• Approved Sunflower Diversified Service’s Early Childhood Intervention Funding.

The Sunflower Early Childhood Intervention Program provides individualized services to children ages birth to 3 years with a developmental delay or disability, said Executive Director Jon Prescott. Sunflower’s professional staff serves the child in the home setting, thus including the family in the educational process.  

In the 2021 Barton County Operating Budget, the program was funded at $15,000.   

• Reappointed Frank Ochs to the Memorial Parks Advisory Committee.

The committee is charged with advising and assisting the commission regarding the care and maintenance of the Barton County-owned-and-operated memorial parks and cemetery. With not less than five, nor more than seven members, there was one position open,  County Works Director Darren Williams said.

• Appointed Kathleen McGinnis to the Southwest Kansas Area Agency on Aging Sub-Regional Council.

The county sought applicants for two positions on the SWKAAA council. Dodge City-based SWKAAA helps determine long-term needs and adequate programs for all senior citizens in Southwest Kansas.  

Appointees are required to attend four quarterly meetings per year, with mileage reimbursed. The uncompensated positions end in September 2024, said Interim County Administrator Barry McManaman.