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Marking historical roots
Council OKs plaque noting historic ginkgo tree
new deh city council ginkgo tree pic web
This is the ginkgo tree on the Barton County Courthouse Square the Great Bend Rotary Club wanted to be memorialized. Note the unique fan-shaped leaves. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Great Bend City Council meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Great Bend City Council did Monday night:

• Approved the annual license renewals for such things as cereal-malt-beverage sellers, pawnbrokers, door-to-door advertising, trash collectors, junkyards and tree trimmers.

• Heard a presentation from Great Bend Rotarian Pat Cale about an historic ginkgo tree in the Barton County Courthouse Square. The council approved placing a marker by one of the ginkgo trees planted by Boy Scouts 78 years ago as part of a beautification project.

• Accepted the 2017 annual audit report as presented by Adams, Brown, Beran and Ball. The city received an “unmodified” opinion, which is the highest possible clean opinion.

• Adopted a resolution determining the structure at 819 Adams to be unsafe and dangerous, directing the owner of the real estate repair or raze the structure and, in the event the owner fails to do so, directing the city staff to raze or remove the structure. A public hearing on the matter was held before this action.

Code Enforcement Officer Stuart Baker and City Attorney Robert Suelter reported on the matter.

At the May 7, 2018 meeting the council passed a resolution scheduling a hearing for the structure at 819 Adams. Notices were mailed out to the necessary parties and were published three times in the Great Bend Tribune as required by Kansas statute, and a 30-day waiting period has lapsed. 

In order to take action on the real estate, however, the council had to hold the hearing.  

• Approved change order number one in an amount not to exceed $294,597 for the waterline improvement project.

The Public Works Department is requesting additional waterline improvements. The project has a total budget of $6,452,196, of the total $5,171 ,625 has been allocated to the project and well improvements, the city’s on-call engineer Josh Golka said. 

The remaining budget of $1,280,571 is available for additional improvements, he said. City staff has identified additional improvements and modifications that fall under this order.

• Approved a motion changing the start times of regular council meetings from 7:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. An ordinance making this change permanent will be on the council agenda at the next meeting.

• Heard a report from Community Coordinator Christina Hayes. She focused on the June Jaunt held June 1-3.

• Approved abatements at: 1501 Second, owned by WHB Inc., 219 Fruit, owned by Maribel Gonzalez, and 215 Fruit, owned by Amada Dovali. All were for accumulation of refuse.

 Great Bend Rotarian Pat Cale told the City Council Monday night the unique but stately 70-plus-year-old ginkgo tree at the north end of the Barton County Courthouse Square holds a special place in the history of Great Bend. The council agreed and approved his request to memorialize it.  

He requested the plaque telling the story about how Boys Scouts planted the ginkgo be placed at the base of the tree on the square. “The Great Bend Rotary Club would like to place a marker by this tree so future generations will know how this odd tree came to its present location,” he said

“How in the world the Boy Scouts came up with this tree in 1940, I have no idea,” Cale said. “That tree will be here long after we’re gone. I think its important for people to know how it got here.”

 Cale said back in the 1940s, there was only one Boy Scout troop in Great Bend, Troop 110, and it was sponsored by the Rotary Club. Members included Glen Opie, Franklin Reinhardt and Jack Kilby, of whom only Reinhardt survives.

Cale would like to have a ceremony marking the tribute, inviting Reinhardt and Congressman Roger Marshall, who is also a rotarian. Bell Memorial will prepare the 14x24-inch black granite marker. 

However, Councilman Brock McPherson objected to the idea, noting there were over 140 different types of trees in Kansas. He didn’t want to set a precedent.

“I think this is an interesting fact,” Councilwoman Jolene Biggs said. Nobody knows about this and it is worth noting. 

As part of a project to beautify Great Bend in 1940, the scouts planted the ginkgo trees, hardy trees that date back millions of years. Cale is aware of three surviving trees, one at 2611 Broadway, one at Jackson and 16th and the one on the square, but said there may be more.

“We’re just trying to document this,” he said. “Great Bend has so much history.”

As a side note, Cale said these plants survived the atomic bombs dropped on Japan that ended World War II. With unique, fan-shaped leaves, they have few natural predators and thrive in this area.

“For Rotary clubs around the world, 2018 is the year of the tree,” Cale said. “And, Great Bend has some unusual trees.”

Ginkgo biloba, commonly known as ginkgo or gingko, also known as the ginkgo tree or the maidenhair tree,is the only living species in the division Ginkgophyta, all others being extinct. It is found in fossils dating back 270 million years. 

Native to China, the tree is widely cultivated, and was cultivated early in human history. It has various uses in traditional medicine and as a source of food. 

Ginkgo fossils have been found along with those of dinosaurs dating back 170 million years.

The genus name Ginkgo is regarded as a misspelling of the Japanese gin kyo, “silver apricot.”