One seriously injured in Great Bend explosion
One person received what were described as critical injuries in an explosion reported at 3:08 a.m. Wednesday at 705 10th St. in Great Bend.
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Great Bend City Council quick reads
srca agreement
The Great Bend City Council Monday night approved a new operating agreement with the Sunflower Rod and Custom Association to operate the dragstrip.

Search for city administrator continues

As of Monday night, the City of Great Bend has received 16 applications in its search for a new city administrator, said Interim Administrator Logan Burns, addressing the City Council Monday night. The deadline to apply is Friday, Feb. 17.

The council in December approved contracting with Selected was Strategic Government Resources of Keller, Texas, to handle the search, and it also approved naming Burns (who was the assistant administrator) to fill the post as the interim during the hiring process.

The city is seeking to replace Kendal Francis who resigned in December to take the job as city manager in Hutchinson. He had been the Great Bend administrator since July 2018.

Fireworks shows approved

The evening skies over Great Bend will be brightened after the City Council Monday night approved the Independence Day and the Great Bend Batcats fireworks shows.  

The Independence Day display is set for July 3 the Great Bend Expo Grounds. The Batcats  displays will be at home games on June 9, with July 12, as the makeup day, and July 2, with July 24 as the makeup day, at Veterans Memorial Park’s Al Burns Field.

“The community desires a firework show to celebrate Independence Day,” said Community Coordinator Christina Hayes. The city has been organizing and displaying the show for five years now. 

“The display was moved to July 3 and the turnout is still overwhelmingly successful,” she said. “This still allows people to have their own shows at home on the Fourth and we had the best turnout we have had in years.”

Wald & Company will do the show, the same company the city has used for the past five-plus years. 

The Batcats have also requested Wald & Company discharge a shows.  According to Mitch Menges, the contracted shooter, this firework show is a class C (consumer grade) show. 

The council must give permission for this special date and the Batcats must provide a copy of insurance for the show to the City of Great Bend and maintain a safe distance of a 350-foot diameter around fireworks during shooting. “The Batcats were approved by council to do two shows each year for two years to enhance the experience of the Bat cats games,” Hayes said. 

The $5,000 will be raised for the July 3 firework show by city staff to meet price requirements. The Batcats will sponsor their fireworks 100%.

2023 street projects moving forward

Paving the way for street work this summer, the Great Bend City Council Monday night approved a bid from Venture Corporation of Great Bend for $925,900 for the 2023 street resurfacing project.

The intent for this project is  to give a high-volume street (McKinley) full-depth repairs and effort to  prioritize residential streets (in the southeast part of town) as well, said Assistant City Engineer Hitha Kadiyala. Venture Corporation  was the only bidder. 

“This fit into the budget perfectly,” she said.

Project limits are approximately 13 blocks:

• McKinley street (10th to Eighth street) . 

• Firethorn Street, Buckeye Street, Dogwood Street (Third to Barton Drive). 

• Cedar Street, Evergreen Street, Almond Street (Fourth to Barton Drive).

This project will be constructed  concurrently with 2023 state-federal-funded City Connecting Link Improvement Program (CCLIP) K-96 project so it saves the city on mobilization  costs, Kadiyala said. 

Start date is expected to be this summer 2023. Funding will come from quarter-cent  sales tax.  

There were questions from the council about why these streets were picked over others that are also in rough shape. Kadiyala and Public Works Director Jason Cauley said these met their criteria for this year.

But, they said, should there be funds left over, other streets could be addressed. And, those missing out on repair this year could be included in next year’s plan.

Council gives nod to dragstip agreement

Noting there are problems with the historic Great Bend dragstrip, the City Council Monday approved a Sunflower Rod and Custom Association operating agreement taking the efforts of the organization to keep the track going into account.

The SRCA has been operating the drag strip under an agreement that expired on Dec. 31, 2022. City staff and the SRCA have negotiated an agreement for one year, City Attorney Allen Glendenning said.

Under the deal, the SRCA will pay the city $1 and agree to maintain the facility. It expires Dec. 31.

This is different from the previous agreement in two major ways, Glendenning said. First, the amount paid by the SRCA is lower and second, the term is for only one year.

Glendenning said the reason for the reduced rate was the money the SRCA had to spend to correct issues with the track. As for the one-year deal, the city will use that time to assess the causes for the track’s problems so a long-term agreement would be more equitable.

In a related matter Monday night, the council held a 30-minute executive session to discuss contract matters and consultation with Glendenning that “would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship.”

The council reconvened in open session, it approved hiring Wichita Attorney Robert Burns and engineer Larry Mott with GES Tech Group, Crawfordville, Fla., to “determine the condition of the racetrack.”

House bills could impact city’s zoning, voting

There are two bills sitting in the Kansas Legislature that could greatly change how, and if, the cities can regulate the three-mile extra-territorial zone around them, Great Bend Interim City Administrator Logan Burns told the City Council Monday night.

“These are something that we’ll probably want to keep an eye on,” he said.  

First is  House Bill 2150. It would eliminate a municipality’s ability to apply its planning and zoning regulations to areas within the three mile area extending from the city boundaries. Currently, cities have planning and zoning jurisdiction for that area, he said.

“There’s a hearing on Wednesday , so it’ll be interesting to see where that goes,” he said.

And, although Burns didn’t know the number, another House bill would allow residents in that three-mile zone to vote in city elections. That is not currently allowed.

Both bills are only at the committee level, he said.

street resurfacing discussion
Great Bend City Council members Davis Jimenez, Lindsey Krom-Craven and Natalie Towns listen to the details of the 2023 street resurfacing project during the council meeting Monday night. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune