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Damon Family Foundation donates to vets memorial
new deh more county 911 pic
Pictured is the Barton County 911 office. A recent excavation near the building necessitated the repair of the countys fiber optic connections. - photo by Tribune file photo

 Cut cable a costly mistake


There was an oops and then there was another oops.

In January, a company doing excavation work near the Communications Office at Lakin and Stone in Great Bend accidentally severed a fiber optic line running from 911 to the courthouse, county Information Technology Director John Debes told the County Commission Monday morning. It was later learned that the cable had not been marked properly.  

“It was not registered with Kansas One Call, that’s why it was cut,” Debes said. “There was a miscommunication.”

The cable had been laid 10 years ago and not reported to One Call. Since the county owned the line, the county was responsible for fixing it.

So, the commission approved using capital improvement funds to pay for the repair. While at it, the line was upgraded to a higher capacity cable to improve internet service for the county which has since been installed and cost of the project was about $7,500, which also includes software and computer work.

County Administrator Richard Boeckman said he had litigated similar cases when he was in private practice. He looked at this situation and knew the county had to foot the bill.

“It was an expensive mistake,” Debes said. But, “it was a learning experience.” 

Debes did say that while the cable was out of commission, the county was able to reactivate a wireless transmitter. Although the connection was slower, offices still had internet access.

 A grateful Barton County commission Monday morning accepted a donation of $500 from the Damon Family Foundation to the Golden Belt Veterans Memorial. The funds are to be used to assist veterans who do not have the financial resources to pay for engravings on the Memorial, located in Golden Belt Memorial Park. 

“It touches my heart,” said Commission Chairman Don Davis, who himself is a veteran. “There’s a lot of people behind all of this.”

Davis said the journey to get to this point has been a long one. Initial discussions started a decade ago, but a few years back the idea resurfaced.

Then, $10,000 and $5,000 dollar donations arrived, followed by gifts form veterans’ organizations. The Great Bend Tribune and the Golden Belt Community Foundation offered donations of $1,000 to help needy vets.

The first stone was dedicated last November on Veterans Day first which had 382 names spread over 520 engraved lines. Currently for the second stone, there are 310 and 180 lines remain of the required 520. Some entries take more than one line.

Some vets may not be comfortable with the recognition, Davis said. “As a veteran myself, I never felt I was deserving of all that.”

Davis said he’s gratified to see this project take shape and honor those who have served.

“It’s wonderful to see other organizations stepping up,” Tribune Publisher Mary Hoisington said. She noted that people don’t have to give big donations to make a difference and they can opt to just sponsor one veteran.

A line consists of 21 characters and costs $45. Most tributes only take one line which can include the name, rank and branch of service.

Qualifications for inclusion are proof that the veteran was at least at one time a Barton County residency and an honorable discharge from the military. To be included, the veteran can be living or deceased, and active-duty service members are also eligible.

Through gifts large and small, the county now has about $1,800 on hand to help pay for entries.

As for the memorial, it has been a team effort, Road and Bridge Director Dale Phillips said. From the commission, to the Road and Bridge Department to the Memorial Parks Advisory Committee to local sculptor Chet Cale, many have been involved.

“The dream is there,” Phillips said. “We just have to continue to make it better.”

Those wanting to purchase a spot on the memorial or make a donation can bring their payments to the Barton County Administrator’s Office in room 107 of the courthouse at 1400 Main in Great Bend. For more information, call 620-793-1800.

Checks must be made payable to Barton County.