Tom Holmes has been a staple at Great Bend City Council meetings of late. After the departure of the city sanitarian, it fell to him as the assistant to present trashy and run-down properties for abatement.
That changed Monday night as Utility Superintendent Charlie Suchy told the council Holmes has been promoted to the sanitarian position. Suchy, Holmes and City Administrator Howard Partington have been discussing ways to clean the community.
“I think we’ve got a pretty aggressive plan,” Suchy said. “It’s game time. We’re going to get things done.”
It has been a reoccurring goal of the council to beef up the city’s clean-up efforts in order to improve the city’s appearance and image. Council members have long been concerned about dilapidated buildings, overgrown and junk-strewn yards, and broken down and untagged vehicles.
Holmes and his predecessors have routinely presented a handful of properties at each council meeting that have gone through the abatement process. These are locations reported by neighbors or spotted by city personnel.
The process includes a series letters aimed at getting the sites cleaned by the owners without city action. If abated, city employees handle the work and charge the costs back to the owner’s taxes.
“We’ve gone over some ideas on how we can be more assertive,” Partington said. “We discussed how the sanitarian can meet the goals of the council to clean up Great Bend.”
For starters, the city will quickly start to look for an assistant sanitarian to help Holmes, Partington said.
“I want to thank Howard and Charlie for the confidence they’ve shown in me,” Holmes said. “I won’t disappoint.”
In addition to Powerpoint images of the regular abatements, Holmes showed before and after slides of properties cleaned up by the owners. “Sometimes it works,” he said of the system.