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City departments keep busy
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At Monday night’s Great Bend City Council meeting, City Administrator Howard Partington gave an update on the activities of various city departments in the past couple weeks. Below is a summary of some of the highlights.

 Public Works
Gregg Vannoster reports 171 complaints year to date, 76 new complaints (10 by Citizens and 66 by staff), 21 complaints completed by Citizens, 11 abatement notices sent and 13 cars brought into compliance.

• Permits for the Housing Opportunities Incorporated duplexes on 31st have been issued.
• City Inspector Lee Schneider continues to work on the Blizzard Energy project.
• I attended a two day MERGe disaster training and drill in Newton.

• The trout stocking program was implemented at Stone Lake on Jan. 16. Funding for this program is available through the Community Fisheries Assistance Program and Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
• Christmas decorations have been taken down and put into storage.
• Scott Keeler, Steve Root, Richard Bodine and Terry Hoff will be attending the annual Kansas Recreation and Parks Conference in Manhattan next week.
• Park department staff members have been providing assistance at the Convention Center to help make some minor improvements.

• The apron construction project is scheduled to start this spring.
• The Federal Aviation Administration is requiring us to accomplish a Wildlife Hazard Assessment in 2013. This is a mandatory project resulting from the Hudson River emergency landing which was caused by birds striking the aircraft.
The cost of the assessment is $65,000, of which the FAA will pay 90 percent with the city covering the balance. There is a chance the state would pay for half that balance.
• All of the T-hangars are full and airport officials are looking at prices to see if they can add another bank of five T-hangars. We currently have a waiting list.

Ball Complex
• City crews will soon be starting work to prepare all of the city ball fields for practice and play. High school practices will begin in late February/early March.
• The city is beginning the process of identifying and resolving the issues at the ball complex.
• Work continues on the concrete walkways and the entrance feature at the complex.
• Crews have spent some time recently cleaning up the entrance area off of McKinley and tree line along this entrance.

• Officer Jefferson Davis and Steve Sell, Community Bank President, discussed the America’s Promise Program on Eagle Radio City Beat and also discussed the “100 Best Communities for Young Peoples Award” we are applying for. Officer Davis also made a presentation to the Lions Club on this.
• All D.A.R.E. classes began at Central Kansas Christian Academy, and at Park and Riley elementary schools.
• Davis was the recipient of the USD 428 Rose Award for his services to the school district. This award stands for “Recognizing Outstanding Support of Education”.
• Two new officers were hired, Jon Link and Logan Hall.
• On Jan. 17, America’s Promise had their swimming event at Club I Fitness.
• Officer Randy Cornwell graduated from the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center.

• Officially started booking and planning events for the 2013 Great Bend June Jaunt. The street fair will take place in Jack Kilby Square as well as many other community events. Community Coordinator Christina Hayes will keep council members updated in process.
• Retailers want to create more retail focused events for 2013, one being a No Sales Tax Day for April 13. Hayes is looking into legalities of this sale and ensuring proper marketing and collaboration.
• Icy Sidewalk Sale took place Saturday, Jan. 19, 20 stores participated inside with winter markdowns, the summer sidewalk sale was more successful but the stores that reported progress said Saturday was busy.
• Both Hayes and Sara McAffee (coordinator Intern) helped with the Great Bend Bridal Affaire that took place Sunday, Jan. 20. The 50 VIP bride tickets were sold out before the show, and another 95 brides with their friends and parents were estimated in attendance as well.
• City Administrator Howard Partington attended an Economic Lifelines meeting in Topeka where the completion of the TWorks (highway improvement) Program was discussed. There are a number of events planned for the legislative session.
• The Kansas Department of Transportation is holding a public meeting in Sterling on Feb. 8 regarding the piece of the Northwest Passage between Nickerson and Sterling. The flyer suggests a proposed construction start date of late 2016 or early 2017.
• Barton Community College Trustee Mike Johnson and President Carl Heilman met with Mayor Allison and Partington and will be making a presentation to the City Council at the Feb. 4 Council Meeting regarding “workforce training and economic development opportunities for the future.”