ELLINWOOD - The Ellinwood City Council put off for a second time the sale of the city-owned Main Street building to Wolf Hotel owner Chris McCord. He and Chris Batchman had made competing written offers which were announced at the October city council meeting.
At that time, Batchman had made the high bid, anticipating reacquiring the building in order to use as office space for his business. McCord, however, had bid with the intent of giving the building to the Ellinwood Historical Society to provide a museum space for local artifacts. But the council, noting that the building is need of major repairs, was reluctant to award the building without express approval of the gift from leadership of the historical society. They opted, at the initial protest of Councilman Ken Lebbin, not to take the higher bid from Batchman, and instead to wait a month to give McCord time to work out an agreement with the society before deciding which way to go.
Batchman, whose offer carried a respond by date of Nov. 1, opted not to amend, and his offer is now off the table. But McCord was also unable to secure a definite agreement with the historical society either. Joyce Schulte, society president, said she would consider the building an option, but is still uncertain if it is in the best interest of the society. McCord noted that his offer still stands, but he does not have a plan for the building if the society opted not to accept the gift.
This prompted Mayor Irlan Fullbright to make a suggestion.
“Last month, there were two offers on the table,” he said. “We didn’t take the high offer and decided to wait. I would like to open it up for sealed bids, say in a few weeks, open them and sell to the highest bidder.”
Councilman Ken Lebbin agreed, it was a fair approach.
“We didn’t before and we still have a building two months down the road,” he said. “I still don’t feel good about the viability of the building, and I don’t think the bidding was done fairly the last time. I’m all for taking sealed bids, and the high bid goes regardless.”
Other city council members agreed. December 6 at noon was picked as the new deadline for submitting sealed bids to the city, and those bids will be opened at 3 p.m. that day to determine who will purchase the property. This, it was decided, would give the city enough time to advertise it properly and be able to include the decision in the council member packets prior to the next meeting.
Animal shelter in question
City Manager Chris Komarek informed the council he had received communication from Animal Medical Hospital’s agreement with the city to provide shelter services for stray animals picked up by the city’s Animal Control.
The local veterinarian signed the agreement with the city in January, 2016, to board stray animals according to state statute. Now, the business wants to amend the agreement, which includes a clause allowing either party to do so at any time. Komarek asked Police Chief Art Keffer to explain.
“Essentially, they don’t want to be in the animal boarding business anymore,” he said.
The new proposal would have the city rent kennel space only for $100 a month, and it would be the city’s responsibility to provide all care to the animal, including feeding and clean up, for the entire time the animal is in the shelter.
Keffer indicated this was not an acceptable solution for his department. This puts the city in a tough situation, he said. They need a place to keep the animals, according to state law which requires strays be held up to three days, but also specifies that the first and the last days of the stay do not count towards that total. Beyond that, euthanasia can be considered, but that hasn’t been done in Ellinwood for some time, he said.
The council discussed other options, including the possibility of working out an agreement with the Golden Belt Humane Society, or approaching Hoisington Veterinary Hospital, which provides the service to the City of Hoisington. Council member Gaila Nielsen suggested perhaps the city should cast a wider net and approach veterinarians in Great Bend also.
The biggest problem, Keffer said, is stray dogs. There needs to be a place to keep them, he said.
The council directed Komarek to hold off on responding to Animal Medical Hospital until they had time to consider other options, as no deadline was specified in the proposed amendment.
Other items of discussion and actions taken included:
* Representatives of Lakin Township offered to assist the city further on the flood control effort by helping to build up the airport road and helping to clear debris and trees from the slough north of town. The council thanked them for their generosity.
* Firefighter Joe Redetzke received a 10 year service award and pin.
* City Manager Chris Komarek gave an extensive city and staff report providing an update on the KDOT roadwork, flood control efforts, installation of the Splash Pad, and the results of the First Impressions report.
The next meeting of the Ellinwood City Council will be at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 13 at the city offices.
Editor's note: The preceding article was edited. The original story incorrectly identified one of the bidders as Mark Batchman. We apologize for the mistake and any misunderstandings it may have caused.