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Commission OKs backup emergency system
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 Hoisington’s Kids Club to expand


 In March, 2014, the Commission transferred what was known as the Hoisington Annex to GPS Kids Club for $1. The goal of the program is to provide a safe, nurturing environment for kids, kindergarten through sixth grade, after-school hours and evening hours while parents work. 

Program Administrator Debbie Stephens told the Barton Count Commission Monday morning that the entity has surpassed all expectations. “We have so much to be grateful for.”

GPS Kids Club is a state-licensed, non-profit, faith-based program that provides after school activities for children from kindergarten through sixth grade. It is licensed for 49 children with 40 enrolled and 20-27 attending daily.

However, Stephens said they are hoping to soon be able to accommodate 120 kids and will be expanding their services to include the summer. 

There is no charge to enroll, but there are fees to attend. Full-time, part-time and drop-in rates are available.

State aide is available for families to help cover the cost, she said. And, she is hoping to have sponsorships offered for children as well.

“We want to keep our kids busy and off the streets,” she said. They already offer a homework help, a meal, a snack, crafts and other activities, but will also offer reading, math and English lessons as well, especially when school is out of session.

“It’s growing and we’re excited,” Stephens said. The community has been very supportive and donated items such as computers, and teachers have offered suggestions on what educational tools GPS could use.

The county took possession of the structure at 12th and Vine in 2006 when it was donated by the First Christian Church. At the time, the county was searching for a home for various non-profit agencies and the gift seemed like an ideal opportunity.

However, that did not come to pass. The agencies didn’t like the idea of relocating to Hoisington and, except for a couple of exceptions, didn’t.

Head Start used a portion of the building for a while and Clara Barton Hospital was leasing a portion of it. So, in November 2013, the commission unanimously agreed to sell the Annex.

The donation by the church was made with the understanding that the structure would be used for the benefit of Hoisington residents, and GPS certainly meets that requirement officials said at the time. It was sold to GPS for $1 with the caveat that this mission would continue.

“You are using it to its full extent,” Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. This would make the original church members happy.

“It is a great facility,” Stephens said. “Our goal is to leave is as a permanent fixture” for the residents of Hoisington.

In other business Monday morning, the commission:

• Approved a proclamation recognizing the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation which is celebrating 47 years of fair housing. Fair Housing laws provide Kansans the basic right to live in the homes of their choice and to raise their families without fear of discrimination based solely on their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religious belief, familial status or disability, County Administrator Richard Boeckman said. The proclamation not only names April as Fair Housing Month, but also names the county as a partner in this endeavor. 

For more information about Title VIII (Fair Housing) or the State’s Fair Housing Task Force, the public is encouraged to visit  

 Emergency personnel and first responders in Barton County will now have a back-up method to receive messages and alerts from dispatchers after the County Commission approved the purchase of the Active911 system Monday morning. 

Active911 is a digital messaging system that delivers alarms, maps, and other critical information instantly to first responders’ cell phones via text message and/or email, said 911 Director Doug Hubbard. It also allows response efforts to be monitored in real time and pinpoints the locations of the responders. 

“I really believe this is going to work for us,” Hubbard said.

The cost of Active911 will be around $2,000 per year. This is based on the company charging the county $10.25 annually for up to 190 first responders.

The money to pay for this comes from the county’s share of the state-levied 911 phone tax, Hubbard said. There will be no mill levy support involved.

In late 2014, the Communications Department began a 120 day trial period for the Active911 system. After using the system, Hubbard said he is confident that the system will provide notifications for county departments and will act as a secondary form of notification.

Hubbard said this isn’t the first back-up network used by the county. In 2011, the county used  the Total Notify system.

However, come 2012, that company sold and the annual cost jumped from $2,000 to $16,000. So, it was phased out and “we’ve been without a secondary system since,” Hubbard said.

In the intervening years, the Federal Communications Commission has mandated that all communications radio switch to narrow band widths due to the increased use of the airwaves. This has cut radio coverage by 20 percent, causing problems, Hubbard said.

Since Active 911 is Internet-based, messages can get out to cell phones regardless the availability of radio signals. It is, however, subject to being unavailable if the Internet is down.

For now, Hubbard stressed that this is a redundant system. There may come a time when cell phones replace pagers, but that won’t happen soon.