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Improvements planned for Camp Aldrich
After bunkhouse, pool may be next project
bcc swear in 2020
Barton Community College trustees are sworn in Tuesday afternoon. Pictured are, from left: Barton County Clerk Donna Zimmerman, newly elected trustee Mike Boys and reelected trustees Mike Johnson and Gary Burke. - photo by SUSAN THACKER Great Bend Tribune

The Barton Community College Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved building a new, bigger bunkhouse at the Camp Aldrich Conference Center to replace the Trails End Cabin that was destroyed by fire on Aug. 10, 2018.

The board accepted the low bid of $935,000 from Harbin Construction, Salina, to build the facility. Harbin Construction’s base bid of $856,000 included a metal exterior for the building. An alternate bid of $79,600 adds the same siding as the Dining and Events center, making the two facilities match in color and design.

Brentwood Builders of Great Bend and Wiens Construction of Hutchinson submitted higher bids. All three contractors estimated that the work could be completed by the end of May, said Barton’s Vice President of Administration Mark Dean.

Tuesday’s regular meeting was a study session, with no action taken. But a special meeting was held immediately after the study session to allow the board to vote, rather than wait for the Jan. 28 business meeting.

“Two weeks could mean a lot when it comes to this process,” said Board Chairman Mike Johnson.

Dean agreed, “We want to get started as quickly as we can.”

Tuesday was the first board meeting for new trustee Mike Boys, who was elected by write-in votes last November. Boys, along with reelected trustees Mike Johnson and Gary Burke, were sworn in by Barton County Clerk Donna Zimmerman at the start of the study session.

Two phases for Camp Aldrich

During the study session, Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman said the administration has talked about a master plan for Camp Aldrich that goes beyond replacing the bunkhouse.

“We hope to do something with the swimming pool as well,” Heilman said. “We have the option of a Phase 2.”

In Phase 2, the swimming pool at Camp Aldrich would be renovated and enclosed for year-round use, Johnson said.

All of the improvements, starting with the new bunkhouse, will be paid for with insurance money and then with private donations and grants, and “no local tax dollars,” Johnson said.

To date $366,000 has been raised, Dean said. An additional application will be submitted to another foundation requesting supplemental funding for both phases of the project.

The insurance company settled on its figure of $616,000 to replace the bunkhouse based on what it would cost to rebuild a structure exactly like the original, with updates to comply with current codes. A similar plan was followed when the Camp Aldrich dining hall burned down in 2014. The original dining hall was built with 4 by 4 tongue and groove timber. New materials are less expensive and non-combustible.

Harbin Construction also won the bid for the dining hall. Now as then, Dean said, some local subcontractors will be used.

The new project bid covers the construction of the new facility and demolition of the remains of Trails End Cabin and the demolition of Aldrich House, a small cabin that has only partial rest-room facilities (no showers or tub). It was originally the post office when it was built by the Girl Scouts and it will be the location for the new cabin. That will place the bunkhouse closer to the dining hall and will allow it to tie in to the same water storage used there for the fire protection sprinkler system.


Fire destroyed the Trails End Cabin on Aug. 10, 2018. Both the State Fire Marshal and the Special Fire Investigator for Barton’s insurance company determined the fire was “electrical in nature” and the source could not be determined. A bug light was suspected.

After a fire in April of 2014 destroyed the Dining and Events Center, improvements were made that went beyond the insurance. This was done with about $80,000 in college money, and Camp Hope and Kans for Kids raised substantial amounts by selling tax credits.

“The decision to rebuild the facility was a humanitarian decision made for the good of the community as well as the groups that use Camp Aldrich,” Dean reported in 2015. Camp Aldrich has become a popular wedding and events venue. The college also uses the facility.

The cabin that was destroyed on Aug. 10 was considered the hunting lodge because it included two bedrooms, a kitchen and rest-rooms. It was set up with 40-48 beds for large groups such as Camp Hope and a church camp that rents Camp Aldrich in the summer. Most of the beds were removed in the fall when the building was used as a hunting lodge.

The new building will have four modules, each set up with 24 beds for a total of 96. The modules each have rest-rooms can be used independently when fewer beds are needed.

In previous reports, Dean said another building, the Martin cabin, could be kept and used as a hunting lodge with a kitchen. This would move campers into one building and eliminate the need to tear down and store beds during hunting season.

Trails End fire file 2018
A blaze destroyed the Trails End cabin at Camp Aldrich in this file photo from Aug. 10, 2018. Camp Aldrich is owned by Barton Community College, and trustees have approved plans to replace the ruined structure.