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Convention center needs major investment
new ces city council dare pic
Guests at the Great Bend City Council meeting this week were the DARE students recently honored. Students pictured with the council and Mayor Mike Allison were, left to right, Brook Jones, Audrianna Bender, Darian Harbaugh, Mackenzie Norman, Courtney Barton and Brady Daniel. - photo by Chuck Smith

City officials are continuing to seek answers to the question, which is the Great Bend Convention Center, and it looks like they were right when they initially suspected the project will require a sizeable investment, though the facility was “given” to the city.
City Administrator Howard Partington reported to the Great Bend City Council this week on the work that the staff have done on getting the facility up and running and the work that remains to be done. And there’s a lot of it.
But that’s not a surprise.
When the staff had first begun looking into the structure, they reported to the council that “even a cursory examination of the facility shows that more than the purchase price is going to be needed to get the facility in shape for it to stay in competition with other convention facilities across the state. Most of the facility is unchanged from when it was built in 1981 and the simply has not been a reinvestment in it, Partington explained. The city also continues to investigate how the facility will be operated, who will be in charge of it from day to day and how the various maintenance and operations issues will be addressed,” it was reported shortly after local investors spent $500,000 to purchase the facility for the city.
As the work has continued, Partington reported, it’s proven difficult for the city staff to keep in contact with the owners of the hotel and it’s apparent that the city is going to need to consider moving ahead with staffing to keep the facility operating and to improve it.
The council agreed that Partington should continue working on update design work with a professional designer who is sketching out plans for how the front of the building could be updated and could include a handicapped accessible entrance, as well as a covered entrance for events that happen in bad weather.
Councilman Ken Roberts observed that an idea of what the city is going to spend needs to be developed soon so the council can discuss the issue during its budget sessions, which will be coming up this summer.
Councilman Randy Myers urged the city staff needs to do a better job of keeping up with the condition of the facility so that it is functioning and clean for any events. He noted that in a recent event there were problems with the restrooms.
City Attorney Bob Suelter assured Myers that the restrooms have been checked and they are operating.
It was agreed that the facility would be sure to be clean and operating in time for this weekend’s Great Bend Chamber of Commerce annual meeting.