All city personnel back on the job
As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 567 total COVID-19 cases, 82 of them still active, here in Barton County. But, “fortunately, we do not currently have any staff that is directly affected by that,” Great Bend City Administrator Kendal Francis told the City Council during his update Monday night.
There may be one or two who are caring for someone who is sick, but that is it, he said. This is a welcome relief since for a spell, there were several city employees, including police officers, who were under quarantine.
Fire Department vacancies filled
Great Bend Fire Chief Luke McCormick had good news for the City Council Monday night. “We are currently back to full staff,” he said.
Four new firefighters started Monday, and they’ve started the recruit class. They come from all over the country, One of the four is a local person, but the others are from California, Minnesota and North Carolina.
“We want to welcome them to the community,” he said.
Sales tax numbers promising
Great Bend City Administrator Kendal Francis told the City Council Monday night that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the city’s sales tax collections are looking good.
I want to encourage everyone to shop local.
“We’ve had very good sales tax returns this year, sales tax has been strong,” he said. The September disbursement, which is actually taxes collected by businesses in July, was down slightly as compared to 2019. However, year to date, were approximately 5.7% ahead of 2019, so, all things considered that is excellent, he said.
“And we just want to encourage everyone to continue to shop local and continue support Great Bend,” Francis said.
City projects coming along
In his update to the Great Bend City Council Monday night, City Administrator Kendal Francis said several on-going projects are nearing completion.
• “The Great Bend Events Center continues to move along fairly well,” he said. This is the remodeling of a portion of the long-vacant office complex for use by the Convention and Visitors Bureau and Great Bend Economic Development Inc.
The door frames are being installed and plumbing is being completed. “So it still looks like they see substantial completion by the end of the month.”
Included in the $500,000-plus renovation is 7,000 square feet on the office complex first floor. This leaves 21,000 square feet in the remainder of the building.
• “You’re probably seeing that we’re doing some work on Al Burns Field (at Veterans Memorial Park), he said. Crews are there laser leveling it and installing a new sod infield “so it is a better playing surface for the Bat Cats and the other leagues that utilize that field.”
• City crews are making progress in their effort to clean and alleviate flooding problems with the ditches on North Main. “It’s coming along really well, and hope to have that wrapped up pretty quickly.”
• Demolition work will begin Monday at the Sunflower Rod and Custom Association dragstrip. The racing season is over and the SRCA members finished up their preliminary work Monday.
Suchy Construction will be on the site Monday.
In July, the council approved a bid from Suchy Construction of Great Bend of $1,601,206.54 for the race track. In October 2019, the city was awarded funding through the Kansas Department of Transportation Cost Share program for the demolition and reconstruction of the dragstrip.
This is one of two cost-share projects the Kansas Department of Transportation approved for the city, the other being the resurfacing of a big stretch of 10th Street totaling $3.3 million.
Hayden making rounds as eco devo president
Monday night, Great Bend Economic Development President Sara Hayden gave her second monthly report to the City Council Monday night. She said she’s been very busy.
“Now I’m two months into the job and my main mission has been relationship building,” she said. She’s has met with the Kiwanis Club, will speak with Rotary Club, and has been asked by every other several others that groups as well.
“So that’s been a good opportunity to share the economic development mission,” she said.
Since she made her first presentation a month ago, she said she’s had the chance to attend the Western Kansas Rural Economic Development Alliance (wKREDA) conference. This is a coalition of people in 55 western Kansas counties who’ve decided to pool their resources.
“I have been asked to serve on their marketing board and their community development board,” Hayden said.”I see this is a great opportunity for us because it gives us more resources and better contacts. I think that’s going to be a great asset for us.”
She submitted Great Bend as a candidate to host the group’s June conference and a decision should be made in December.
Great Bend last hosted a wKREDA conference for 13 years. “So that would be exciting to be able to get all of them, and the different state departments, here in Great Bend,” she said.
Eco devo director eyeing new business, seeks help for existing ones
Although she couldn’t divulge much information, Great Bend Economic Development President Sara Hayden said she is hopeful about bringing a new business to town, and about helping a pair of existing businesses grow. She was addressing the Great Bend City Council Monday night.
“I have submitted our town for a site search sent out by (Kansas) Department of Commerce,” she said. This site search is called Project Fairview.
“One of the things to keep in mind on these is that they’re very vague when they send these out so I only give you limited information because I only have limited information,” she said. “We do know that it’s for a manufacturing company, they are looking to relocate to the Midwest, they would employ 100 or more employees in their first year, and they would be looking to sign a 10-year lease.”
She sent the city’s proposal two weeks ago and has followed up, but has gotten no answers or feedback. “So I’ll continue to update you if we have anything move forward with that.”
Hayden said she is also working two businesses in town to get them state incentives for their expansions. They’re both “very exciting projects” and they’re adding several jobs.
“This creates more opportunity in town so I’m very hopeful,” she said. She couldn’t share the names of these businesses until they can get through the process of Kansas Department of Commerce.
Economic development board members sought
Come the end of the year, there will be two open seats on the Great Bend Ecomomic Development Inc.’s Board of Directors, GBED President Sara Hayden said in her report to the City Council Monday night. The applications for those positions just went live on the GBED website, gbedinc.com.
Applications should be turned in by 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30.
For information, call GBED at 620-796-2407 or email email@example.com. The office is located at 3111 10th Street.