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Just giving a heads up
City sanitarian reminds residents to keep properties clean
new deh city update abatement pic web
Shown is a yard that is an example of one violating city ordinances that can be abated. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

During Monday night’s Great Bend City Council meeting, Interim City Administrator George Kolb presented a summery of departmental activities for May. Below are some of the highlights of that report:

Human Resources

The city has been advertising for the network administrator position for some time now. The city has made three offers to applicants, but all turned it down.

• Candidate one chose to stay at their current employer. He felt the benefits were stronger and there was more opportunity for growth.

• Candidate two received a significant counter offer from his current employer and decided to keep his job with them.

• Candidate three accepted our offer initially but decided to keep his current job primarily because it offers a flexible work schedule.

The city continues to advertise.

Community events

• On May 24-25, the city hosted the Kansas State High School Activities Association 2-1A State Baseball tournament at the Great Bend Sports Complex. It involved the efforts of the Park Department, Community Coordinator Christina Hayes and the Great Bend Recreation Commission.

• June Jaunt week started on Wednesday with the Media Jumbo Game Faceoff. The Great Bend Tribune was defeated in Business Olympics-style games Eagle Radio.

• Thursday was a great night at the Summer Street Stroll Family night and opening night of the City Band concerts in Jack Kilby Square. A huge group of people showed for both events, Hayes said.

• The seventh-annual June Jaunt was a success. Vendors did well, performers did well and those that attended enjoyed themselves, Hayes said. The opening exhibit for the grizzly bears at Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo was also a success with over 1,200 attending that day. Hayes will provide a more in-depth recap of June Jaunt at the next council meeting. 

Public Works


• Removed asphalt at old cemetery and patched over 20 locations, some very large, using a little over 12 tons of material. This was part of prep work for Memorial Day. The old cemetery was also swept.

• Sweeping was done in town as well.

• Repaired many alleys where the base had been disturbed then re-sanded. Not all alleys have been repaired.

• Started fogging for mosquitoes. The city fogs, and doesn’t spray, and there is a big difference, the department notes.

• Cut trees in various locations in Dry Walnut and Lischekey ditches for mower.


• Changed out two fire hydrants out of a goal of five for this year.

• Changed out 137 water meters out of a goal of 200. 

• Meter reading rate - 95 Percent 

Police Department

• On May 22 and 23, the Fire Department provided first aid/CPR and AED training to all members of Police Department. 

• Detective promotional testing was held. Officer David Simmons was promoted to detective.

• The department held applicant testing on May 31 and six applicants tested on that date.

May Patrol Division stats

• Criminal cases reported - 346

• Accident cases reported - 49 

• Citations issued - 135

• Warrant arrests - eight

Fire Department

Fire Department inspections for May (2017 and 2018) 

• Commercial building inspected - 62, 48

• Daycare/schools - four, three

• Fire extinguisher demonstrations - one, one

• Violations found - 18, 13

Fire Department activity for May (2017 and 2018)

• Fire incidents - 27, 22

• EMS incidents - 154, 153

• Total pt contacts 156, 165

• Carbon monoxide calls - two, zero

• Average response time - four minutes and two seconds,four minutes and two seconds

• Average turnout time - 43 seconds, 37 seconds

• Overlapping calls - 19.34 percent, 26.86 percent

• Year-to-date incidents - 923, 928

Code Enforcement (May 2018)

• Three cases closed

• Five new cases

• 33 total open cases

• 25 follow-ups completed 

 Great Bend City Sanitarian Austin LaViolette was out of his office most of the day Wednesday at the site of an emergency abatement. The property was packed with trash, his Great Bend Public Works Department Sanitation Division had to take immediate action.

This was an extreme case, LaViolette said. But with his team stepping up enforcement efforts, he just wants residents to be aware of the need to maintain their properties.

“We just kind of want to educate people,” he said. Most owners are unaware of any violation and are quick to take care of the problem.

The Sanitation Division recorded 158 complaints in May, LaViolette said, 136 of those being for overgrown vegetation. Of the balance, 16 were for the accumulation of trash and refuse, and six were motor vehicles.  

Citizen lodged 48 of the complaints.

In response, the department sent 10 abatement notices, but carried out none of them (the city mowed its first yard last Friday). Ninety-two of the cases were closed by the property owners and all six vehicles were brought into compliance. 

What is an abatement?

An abatement notice is served on the owner or occupier of a property on which there has been a complaint, warning of the city’s intention to enter the land in order to abate (or eliminate) the nuisance by city crews. The cost of this is assessed to the owner.

What constitutes violations?

The number of messy yard reports seems high, but LaViolette said after a dry winter, the wet spring caught people off guard. Grass and weeds grew at full tilt.

“This has been a focus,” he said. 

Overgrown vegetation in the city limits is a violation of city Ordinance 15.70. 

According to the city’s website, here is how violations are handled:

• The owner and/or resident of the property is notified and told that if the violation is not corrected the property may be abated. City Council approval for this action is not necessary. A violation is considered if vegetation at or above one foot tall. 

If the property is in violation:

• The property owner will be sent a notice to abate by certified mail allowing 10 days to correct it. If not corrected, the city will mow the property at the owner’s expense.

• Photos will be taken before and after the abatement

• Owners will be sent a bill for the abatement costs payable within 30 days, after which it will be assessed to the property taxes. 

Trash and refuse

The accumulation of trash and refuse on a property is in violation of Ordinance 8.08. 

The following items are considered trash and refuse:

• Furniture

• Appliances

• Household trash

• Automobile parts (including tires)

• Construction debris

• Tree debris and other yard waste

• Any debris that is capable of being a place for vermin to live and breed

• Scrap metal

If a property is found to be in violation, the owner will be notified verbally or in writing what the violation consists of, what has to be done to correct it, and the time frame you have to correct it.

If no movement has been done by the deadline, a notice to abate the property will be sent to the owner containing the date the violation will be discussed by the council.

Vehicle Nuisances

Inoperable vehicles are not allowed in the City of Great Bend unless they are hidden from public view by a solid wood fence or inside a garage by Ordinance 10.20. Vehicle nuisances are unsightly and a source of danger to children.

An inoperable vehicle is a vehicle that is not currently tagged, wrecked, abandoned or in any state that does not allow them to operate on a street legally.

If a vehicle is in violation, the property owner will receive a notice that they have 30 days to correct it. If not corrected, the property owner will receive a certified letter stating the matter will be brought before the council to consider abatement of the vehicle.

For more information, contact the Sanitation Division of the Public Works Department at 620-793-4150.