Back in February, Convention and Visitors Bureau Director/Community Coordinator Christina Hayes ignited a sign war that engulfed Great Bend and Barton County. Businesses across town exchanged friendly barbs in what wound up garnering much media attention, and gained over 8 million views on Facebook.
“So (Mayor Cody Schmidt and City Administrator Kendal Francis) and I have decided to make a proclamation for the City of Great Bend and beyond,” she said, speaking to the City Council Monday night. It will note the first part of February should focus on Valentine’s Day and love for all, but Feb. 15 through 28 of each year “will officially be time to throw those salty remarks for some fun and it will be always known as the Great Bend sign more time,” she said.
They are using the hastag #GBKSs sign war.
“That’s going to be a lot of fun,” she said.
Turf project now complete
The installation of artificial turf on the four main ball fields and the ancillary Langrehr Field at the Great Bend Sports Complex is complete, said City Administrator Kendal Francis, addressing the City Council Monday night. The city has scheduled a ribbon cutting for Feb. 17, with more details to come at a later date.
“We want to kind of christen it before high school baseball and softball season starts,” Francis said.
This is a $1,360,700 project shared by the city the Great Bend Recreation Commission and Great Bend’s USD 428. It covers installing artificial turf on the infields and bullpens of the four sports complex fields and Langrehr field. There was also a batting cage added at Langrehr.
Hellas Construction, Austin, Texas, was the project contractor.
Drawings for Police Station, Court completed
The final plan drawings for the new Great Bend Police Station and Municipal Court building are finished, City Administrator Kendal Francis told the City council Monday night.
“We do have the 100% drawings completed,” he said. “It now goes to (Wichita-based project manager) McCown-Gordon Construction that will be working on developing the guaranteed maximum price.”
Once the city gets that price and any final tweaks are made, the drawings will be publicly released, he said. That will probably happen around the first of the year.
The roughly $7 million, 20,000-square-foot facility will sit at 12th and Baker on what is now a city parking lot. A .10% city sales tax to help pay off the project bonds was approved in the Nov. 2 general election.
The estimated construction cost is in the neighborhood of $6.3 million, with the city having about $1.5 million set aside for the project. The bonds will fund about $5.4 million.
No construction schedule has been set, but officials are targeting the spring of next year with a 12-month construction window.
City offices to close on the holidays
The City of Great Bend announced its holiday office closures. The offices will Friday for Christmas Eve and the following Friday for New Year’s Eve.
Dragstrip surface should be ready for racing season
The grinding and polishing work on the surface of the historic Sunflower Rod and Custom Association dragsstrip will soon be underway, City Administrator Kendal Francis said in his report to the City Council Monday night.
Track project contractor Suchy Construction has recommended engaging Total Venue Concepts of Petersburg, Ind., and Southeast Grinding and Grooving of Temple. Ga., to smooth out the surface.
Francis has corresponded with SRCA’s Mike Carlson via email. “They were excited to that those contractors were going to be performing at work.”
If weather permits, they were going to try to schedule Great Bend in mid January. Races don’t start until April or May, so the track should be ready to go.
In July 2020, the council approved a bid from Suchy Construction of Great Bend for $1,601,206.54 for a full-depth replacement of the entire track at the Great Bend Expo Complex west of town. This was part of the Kansas Department of Transportation Cost Share program, along with work on 10th Street which dated back to 2019.
Upon completion of the project this summer, SRCA found several ”high spots” existed in the racing surface that caused dragsters to shake and their wheels to leave the track. This led to a heated exchange between the council and project contractors and engineers at an Aug. 2 council meeting over who was responsible for the additional expense to polish the track.
The discussion Monday was just a follow up to make sure the problems are being resolved.
City Christmas Fest a success
After being canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Great Bend’s annual Home for the Holidays Parade and Christmas Festival were back in full force this year, said Convention and Visitors Bureau Director/Community Coordinator Christina Hayes, giving a report to the City Council Monday night.
“The holiday festival and parade were huge hits this year,” she said. “We tripled the amount of people in the square after the parade.”
In the Courthouse Square following the parade, 1,200 hotdogs, 55 gallons of hot chocolate and hundreds of funnel cakes (all free) were consumed by attendees. “So that’s incredible,” she said.
The “Sweets and Treats on the Trail” theme helped celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Santa Fe Trail, with Sheryl Cheely serving as the parade grand marshal.
The cookie contest for that festival was also a success and sold out in one hour, she said. That’s 250 boxes.
“What’s awesome about that is that’s 250 People guaranteed in the stores that participated” on a prime holiday shopping day, she said. “So that was successful for stores as well.
“Overall, it was just a great success,” Hayes said. “And I do want to give a big thank you to those people that participated.”
Now, Hayes said, they will be taking nominations for the 2022 parade grand marshal. This will involve a survey effort that will include online and social media options that will begin some time in January.
Hicks joins CVB staff
Angie Hicks has joined the Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau as a visitor service representative, CVB Director/Community Coordinator Christina Hayes told the City Council Monday night. She is now looking for another rep to join the team at the CVB’s Events Center office.
Both positions were included in the agency’s budget.