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B-29 restoration effort approved by council
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Noting that the popular B-29 Memorial Plaza is a valuable asset as a historical landmark and tourist attraction, the Great Bend City Council Monday night approved spending up to  $18,050 to help restore the marker.
The city will split the cost half and half with the B-29 Memorial Plaza Committee, which is charged with overseeing the city-owned monument. The plaza is located at the entrance to the Great Bend Municipal Airport and pays tribute to the World War II heritage attached to what was once the Great Bend Army Airfield.
“What was done was wonderful and one of a kind,” said committee Chairperson Beverly Komarek. Many said it would never materialize, but the committee made up mostly World War II veterans made it happen and raised over $350,000.
 But, the plaza at the Airport has experienced significant deterioration since its dedication in 2000 and no significant expense or effort has been made to preserve the memorial. City maintenance has been limited to mowing and trimming the grass, flag replacement, and lighting repairs.
Over the years, the arches that frame the monument have started to rust and the bronze plaques have started to fade. There are also some cracks in the concrete base.
So, the committee, with funds remaining from the $350,000, proposed participating with the city on a 50/50 cost sharing basis to make the needed repairs and provide maintenance and preservation training.
The committee requested proposals from qualified preservation experts to determine the scope and costs. The only acceptable bid came from Mayda Jensen Conservation Services of Omaha, Neb., which outlined two methods of restoration totaling $36,100 or $26,900, depending upon the extent of the work.
Half the cost would be $18,050. If the less costly quote of $26,900 is deemed adequate by the city, then this share would reduce to $13,450.
“This will essentially deplete the committee’s funds, but it will serve to help restore this monument, and to provide the city with the proper training to preserve and maintain the asset,” Komarek said. “Unless this restoration and preservation maintenance is achieved, the city will face much higher costs in the future.”
Airport Manager Martin Miller said there will also be some landscaping changes and efforts to keep the sprinkling system from spraying the corrosive water onto the structure.
Komarek said they have enough to cover the entire project, but that would leave the committee no funds upkeep and promotion of the memorial.
The plaza was dedicated in 2000. In 2004, the scale model B-29 sculpture was hung in the center.
In other business Monday night, the Great Bend City Council:
• Authorized Mayor Mike Allison to sign an agreement with the Kansas Department of Transportation and K & 0 Railroad for the U.S. 281-Railroad Avenue realignment project.
The design phase of the intersection realignment project at U.S 281. (Main Street) and Railroad Avenue is nearing completion and the project is scheduled for letting in April 2015. In order to complete the proposed construction activities, the city needs to obtain approval from the K & 0 Railroad to access its property during  construction, City Engineer Robert Winiecke said. KDOT has negotiated access and in turn submitted this three-party agreement to the city for  execution so the project can move forward. 
• Heard a report from Community Coordinator Christina Hayes. She gave summary of the successful holiday season in Great Bend.
• Set 11:30-1:30 Friday, Jan. 30, as a date for council team-building work session. A session was held in the latter part of 2014, but the council and city officials didn’t finish with their agenda, prompting the need for a follow-up meeting. This will take place at the city office.
• Heard a departmental update from City Administrator Howard Partington.