Great Bend City Administrator Howard Partington presented his departmental update to the City Council Monday night. Highlights included:
• Five officers from the Police Department attended a week-long Critical Incident Training course at the Law Enforcement Training Center in Hutchinson last week. This training provided officers with skills to recognize and effectively deal with individuals that have mental illnesses.
The law enforcement profession nationwide is recognizing the need to equip officers with better training for these issues, City Administrator Howard Partington said. “The training is especially critical here in Kansas, as the State’s decisions continue to push more of the responsibilities for dealing with mentally illness onto street level law enforcement officers.”
• Officers Ethan Henderson and Joshua Suss graduated from the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center Basic Training Program. Now that they’ve completed this 14 week program, they will both be assigned to training officers and complete the Department’s 14 week in-house training program.
• Repaired the buckled concrete street at the Morphy Street and Lakin Avenue intersection on the north side of Lakin Avenue.
• Repaired the top of a concrete storm box located at 11th Street and Kansas Avenue on the west side of Kansas Avenue.
• Crews were out deicing all intersections and streets along the snow and ice routes as needed over the weekend.
• Repaired damaged fence around the walking path parking area on west 10th at the flood control levee.
• Contractors attempted to replace the wastewater pump stations at 24th and White Sands and 24th and Garfield locations. (Delayed Due to Weather)
• Discussions about the Great Bend Municipal Airport’s primary runway 17/35 are underway with the Federal Aviation Administration, which is proposing an imminent design and re-construction grant for Great Bend to begin next year. At this point, we’re working on two issues: Whether reconstruction or just a rehabilitation is the best answer for Great Bend, and that Great Bend’s request to delay the project in order to capture data justifying a full-length of 7,851 feet, versus the FAA’s proposed 5,500 feet.
Partington said they don’t know how the city’s request “in one fell swoop” changed to what the feds are suggesting.
• Community Coordinator Christina Hayes, her staff and Partington continue to work and brainstorm about the Convention and Visitors Bureau, “2017 will be a great year of growth and promotion for Great Bend,” Partington said.
• Hayes reported to the Barton Community College Board of Trustees on Dec. 13 to share the College to Community projects involving the BCC Business Department this year.
• Retailers met for the December Retail meeting to determine the 2017 promotion calendar.
Westbound motorists on I-70 near Manhattan will be able to catch a glimpse of Great Bend. This will be courtesy of a billboard at exit 307 east of Junction City.
The colorful 10x20-foot sign features the Explore Great Bend theme, an on-going message for the city, Community Coordinator Christina Hayes told the City Council Monday night. With pictures of a lion at Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo, the Sunflower Rod and Custom Association dragstrip, fireworks over Veterans Memorial Lake, a City Band concert and the Trail of Lights Christmas display, it reads “Shop. Stay. Play.”
“This is a chance to get our name out there,” Hayes said. It also includes the website visitgreatbend.com and invites social media interaction.
The Kansas Wetlands Education Center owns the rights to the billboard, Hayes said. However, Site Manager Curtis Wolf told Hayes he wanted it give it up for a while and offered it to Great Bend for three years.
The rent of the sign is between $400-500 per month and that is paid to the farmer who owns the land where it stands, Hayes said. Often times, an entity will pay a large media company for the rights to a sign and the cost can be $1,000 per month or more.
After the three years, the city and the center may rotate ownership. The farmer has agreed give the city and the center first crack at the location.
Some on the council asked if such a sign does the city any good by luring visitors to town. The correlation is unclear, Hayes said.
She said she’d look into this, but added other cities have had billboards for years and it is very difficult to acquire space on a sign.
Riley-based Schurle Signs Inc. produced the billboard for the city.