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Holmes gets county support to study Larned State Hospital
new slt county-holmes
Sen. Mitch Holmes addresses the Barton County Commission, Monday morning at the courthouse. The commission signed a letter supporting a Legislative interim committee to study the issues plaguing Larned State Hospital. - photo by photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Noting the importance of Larned State Hospital to Barton County and the area, the County Commission Monday morning endorsed a letter of support calling for the formation of a Legislative interim committee to study the issues plaguing the facility.
Kansas Senator Mitch Holmes, R-St. John, explained the need for the committee through the Legislative Coordinating Council to review chronic problems at LSH.
Given that Barton County is included in the LSH employment pool, a stable facility is vital to the local economy, Holmes said.
“We’ve had so many issues at Larned State Hospital,” he said. His bill for a Legislative Oversight Committee never came up for debate, “so I asked for an interim committee.”
Holmes is not seeking reelection in November, but said he has a lot of emotion invested in what goes on at LSH. Serving on the committee would allow him to continue working at its advocate until the end of the year.
“This is about a lot of employees, but not just employees,” he said. “It’s about public safety for everyone.”
The committee would also look at the Osawatomie State Hospital.
The motion to approve the letter of support passed unanimously, but Commissioner Jennifer Schartz expressed concerns. “The state has given us nothing but grief (in recent years),” she said. “I don’t want a committee coming in to try to control things.”
Holmes said the committee will gather testimony from “employees and former employees (and) those directly and indirectly affected by what goes on out there.”
“I think it needs to be looked into,” Commission Chairman Don Davis said. “I know it needs to be improved.”

Zoning change
In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:
• Approved a zoning amendment. On May 10, the Barton County Planning Commission held a public hearing to consider an application submitted by Leon Huxman, doing business as Thunder Roustabout Inc., to change the zoning classification from agricultural district to light manufacturing service commercial district on land that he owns at 442 N. Washington Ave. That would allow him to use his property to park his oilfield roustabout and well service company vehicles and to construct a new shop building. Zoning Administrator Judy Goreham said there were no objections to the change. In fact, the land was previously zoned for light manufacturing until 2013.
• Approved the resignation of James Vance as the Independent Township trustee effective May 10. The remaining township board members submited the name of a replacement, County Clerk Donna Zimmerman said. Randy Oeser was appointed as the replacement.

Additional reporting by Dale Hogg/Great Bend Tribune.