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City gives blessing to drag strip events
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Baseball, softball sculpture to be unveiled


The metal sculpture featuring the boys and girls of summer that will greet visitors to the Great Bend Sports Complex will be unveiled Thursday afternoon, the City Council learned Monday night.
The ceremony will take place at 3:45 p.m. Thursday at the facility’s entry way off of South McKinley. It will take place immediately before the Great Bend High School Panther baseball and softball games against the Hoisington Cardinals which start at 4 p.m.
Mayor Mike Allison will offer a few remarks.
Designed, built and installed by Hoisington’s B&B Metal Arts, the 25-foot-long, eight-foot tall work will feature a baseball/softball motif. Money from the Thelma Faye Harms Trust is paying for the entire project, from fabrication to installation in the park’s circular entrance.
 The life-sized figures will include men, women and children playing ball. The retaining wall at the base, which will be built by Sharky Construction, will include metal cut-out letters reading “Great Bend Sports Complex.”
In other business Monday night, the Great Bend City Council:
• Authorized the issuing of  $1.8 million in Industrial Revenue Bonds for GBRH Properties, the developers of a medical office building at Great Bend Regional Hospital.  This includes property tax abatements and sales tax exemptions for materials used in the project, said Sarah Steele with the Wichita firm of Gilmore and Bell, which advises the city of bond- and tax-related matters. The development is expected to bring 30 jobs to the community in the first year, with the average salary being about $30,000. The building will be located near the hospital at 524 Cleveland.
On Jan. 8, the council held a public hearing regarding issuing the bonds and a property tax abatement for the hospital for the purpose of financing the acquisition, construction, furnishing and equipping a medical office building. 
• Renewed Kim Vink’s lease to operate the concession stand at the Great Bend Sports Complex Concession. Vink operated the concession facility last year and did a great job,  Human Resource Director Terry Hoff said. Vink will pay the city 10 percent of her gross receipts.
• Approved the closure of Lakin Avenue and Main Street Courthouse parking for the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” fundraiser from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. April 18. This was done in lieu of closing Main Street entirely since traffic could not be detoured to Kansas due to the ongoing construction there.
• Approved license requests from: Outrider Tree Service for a tree trimmer license; Up N Rollin’ Skate Center for an amusement hall license; the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce to have a change of manager for their cereal malt beverage license to Darren G. Dale, Great Bend Farm and Ranch Expo promoter.
• Authorized Mayor Mike Allison to sign an agreement to receive reimbursement of the full amount of federal funds available per the FY2012 Kansas Department of Transportation authorization, and authorized City Engineer Rob Winiecke to submit the FY2013 Federal Funds Exchange request application for the upcoming fiscal year. This document is a formality to receive full reimbursement of funds authorized from KDOT in the amount of $135,555.97 (after the 90/10 conversion). KDOT has also provided the city with a letter indicating the amount of authorized funds for the FY2013 Federal Funds Exchange Program. Current federal authorization is for half of the fiscal year in the amount of $70,120.72. This marks the third year Great Bend has participated in this program.
 • Authorized Allison to sign an agreement with KDOT for making improvements to the intersection of 24th and Main streets. These improvements include traffic signal upgrades, milling and overlaying existing pavement, and left turning lanes. The council also adopted a resolution relating to the benefits obtainable by cities under the Federal and State Aid Program. The state will pay up to $250,000 towards the project, which could begin this winter or next spring.
• Approved abatements at: 205 Frey, owned by Miguel and Brandi Garay, for accumulation of refuse; and 217 Pine, owned by Hurvey and Gladys Chism, for accumulation of refuse.
• Heard Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President Jan Peters’ monthly economic development report. She said Sutherlands Lumber hopes to open April 15 and Up and Rolling Skating Rink plans to open this Friday. She also reminded council members about the Great Bend Farm and Ranch Expo April 10-12.
• Appointed Mike Toprani to the Convention and Visitors Bureau Board.
• Heard City Administrator Howard Partington’s update on the activities of city departments. 

On Monday night, the Great Bend City Council put an upcoming celebration on the fast track as it gave a nod to week of activities honoring the historic Sunflower Rod and Custom Association drag strip located at the city’s Expo Complex west of town.
Governor Sam Brownback has officially proclaimed April 27 to May 5 as Kansas Speedweek. These nine days will feature a variety of different events all which start and end in Great Bend, said Hank Denning of the SRCA.
“We are asking for your blessing and support in this week of excitement and entertainment provided by our Kansas Historic drag strip and the drivers and fans of the past 60 years,” Denning said. “We look forward to sharing in this celebration with you and invite you out to the drag strip during the first ever Kansas Speedweek.”
Here are the plans for city during Kansas Speedweek:
• Saturday, April 27: SRCA Drag Strip will host the National Hot Rod Association National Open Series and showcase the Super Quick Series and Summit Points series.
• Wednesday, May 1: Great Bend event organizers would like to host Kansas Speedweek Cruise Night and Gathering beginning at 7 p.m. at the Barton County Courthouse, cruise through town with over 70 cars that include Vintage Wheels of Great Bend and also SRCA vehicles. This cruise would be police escorted and end back up down by the courthouse to be parked for public viewing.
• Saturday and Sunday, May 4 and 5: End the week with the NHRA Lucas Oil Series Division 5 Race with car showings and attracting thousands of people to make this event, one of the largest annual events that take place.
The council approved motions supporting all the events.
“This year marks the 60th year of the registered historical speedway out at the SRCA Drag Strip and Expo Grounds,” Community Coordinator Christina Hayes said. The Drag Strip was the first sanctioned organized national drag racing event ever held in 1955 and was known simply as “the Nationals.”
Since then, Denning said, thousands of racing fans, as well as participants, continue to make a significant economic impact to the City of Great Bend and the State of Kansas throughout the sportsmen’s season.
“We have a lot going on and a lot more we want to do,” he said. “Great Bend and the track are becoming really well known again.”