The City of Great Bend turns 150 years old this year, and officials are planning a year of activities to celebrate this landmark anniversary, City Administrator Kendal Francis said, offering a report to the city council Monday night. The specific anniversary date is Sept. 18.
Community Coordinator Christina Hayes will be putting forth a year’s worth of events to mark the anniversary, “so start watching for them in the in the coming months,” Francis said. “I don’t know that we specifically have one giant celebration scheduled, but more like a whole bunch of little ones.”
During her update at the council meeting, Hayes followed up by noting they are collaborating Unified School District 428 for a coloring contest with the winners receiving a $150 gift certificate. Other partners include the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, Great Bend Economic Development Inc. and the Barton County Historical Society, which will have a special display come September.
In fact, she said, the first event already took place this past Saturday during the Cabin Fever Reliever Sale. They hid 150th cards at the participating stores and if people found them they could fill them out and potentially win $150 at the store where it was found.
Heizer Park improvements still in the works
The City of Great Bend is still working to put together a plan and piece together funding for improvements to Heizer Park in the southeast part of town, City Administrator Kendal Francis told the City Council Monday night.
He was addressing a question from Ward 3 Councilman Davis Jimenez, who referenced an appearance by Auden Galindo, a neighborhood resident and parent, who attended a meeting in December. Galindo suggested the addition of futsal courts to the facility and asked how the project was coming.
“We are still waiting for a response from the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks” in regard to a grant to fund improvements, Francis said. “We were told originally to expect an answer before Thanksgiving on the grant.”
He contacted the KDWP headquarters in Pratt and was told they were still waiting for the scoring that is done at the federal level. He said he would reach out again to follow up.
“Do we have a plan if that doesn’t go through?” Jimenez asked.
“We do have a plan. I’ll be honest, I’ve kind of been holding off to see if funding is there,” Francis said. “But I do have a plan, obviously on a lesser scale because of the reduced funding, but I still think we can take a big step forward.”
In late 2020, the city in conjunction with the Great Bend Recreation Commission conducted a community survey regarding potential improvements of the park at Eighth and Heizer streets. That identified the four top priorities – new playground equipment, bathrooms, additional lighting for security, and picnic areas.
They are also looking at American Rescue Plan Act money, some funding promised through the Harms Trust, a possible small grant through the Golden Belt Community Foundation, and maybe a partnership with the Great Bend Kiwanis Club.
Wheatland Electric Cooperative Inc. announced last April that it had awarded a $1,000 Sharing Success Fund Grant to install additional lighting at the park.
It was in August of 2020 that Francis held a Kendal’s Koffee at Heizer Park, where he highlighted the coming changes to the park.
City planning ribbon cutting for turf project
The installation of artificial turf on the four main ball fields and the ancillary Langrehr Field at the Great Bend Sports Complex was completed in December. Now, the city has scheduled a ribbon cutting at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 17, as part of a Great Bend Chamber of Commerce coffee, said City Administrator Kendal Francis, addressing the City Council Monday night.
The plan is to hold the event outdoors, but they will watch the weather, Francis said.
This is a $1,360,700 project with the cost shared by the City, the Great Bend Recreation Commission and Great Bend 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.
City still awaits Police Station/Court building cost
The final plan drawings for the new Great Bend Police Station and Municipal Court building were finished in December, but officials are still awaiting Wichita-based project manager McCown-Gordon Construction to develop the guaranteed maximum price, City Administrator Kendal Francis told the city council Monday night.
“We’re still working with the design and construction team on pricing. We’re looking at some pricing options on how we can bring the cost better within budget,” he said. There was a meeting with the team and city officials Tuesday.
“So I think we’re very close to be able to bring a guaranteed maximum price to the council for approval,” he said. “We just need to just get a little bit more time on that.”
Once the city gets that price and any final tweaks are made, the drawings will be publicly released, he said. 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, 2021, general election.
With the estimated construction cost is in the neighborhood of $7 million, the city has about $1.5 million set aside for the project. The bonds will fund the balance.
No construction schedule has been set, but officials are targeting the spring of next year with a 12-month construction window.