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Council again backs Job Fest
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The Great Bend City Council Monday night approved sponsoring the annual Job Fest for $1,000. The city has been a sponsor of Job Fest since its inception. The ninth-annual Job Fest event is set for Thursday, April 30.
 Rachel Mawhirter of the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce said this regional job fair is targeted for businesses and employees in Central Kansas, and is a collaboration of many organizations. Entities involved with the planning and execution include the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development, Barton Community College, KansasWorks, and several employers.
“We focus our efforts on the companies and communities located in and around Barton, Russell, Pawnee, Stafford, Rice, Rush, and Ellsworth counties,” she said. Over the past seven years, they have worked diligently to grow and streamline this economic development resource to help connect growing businesses with the workforce available to them.
There will be about 26 exhibitors, most of whom are from Great Bend. They will represent all job sectors, from service to retail to healthcare to professional.
“Our goal for the 2015 event is to meet the needs of area businesses, Mawhirter said. “As you are probably aware, there are more available jobs than qualified workers, so it will take a strategic marketing approach to attract people to attend this event. We would like to partner with you to bring in more employers and more job seekers than ever before.”
This is kind of a switch, she said. When the economy had sagged, there were more job seekers than employers.
Now, it is the other way around, and a return to the way it was when the fest started nearly a decade ago.
The benefits of this event are vast, both to employers and to job seekers alike, she said. Job seekers can visit with employers face-to-face, receive assistance with creating a resume, learn valuable interviewing skills, apply for jobs onsite through the KansasWorks mobile unit, and connect with training providers in the area.
From the employer perspective, businesses can network with the 200-300 job seekers who attend the event, take advantage of lower booth space fees than most job fairs, and network with employment agencies for assistance after the event.
“We are confident that the benefits we would provide to your City in exchange for a partnering sponsorship will pay out in the long run by retaining valuable employees that might otherwise leave our communities,” Mawhirter said.
The money from the city will be used for media promotions, she said.
 In other business Monday night, the council:
• Learned there are three, possibly four, bidders interested in operating the concession stand at the Great Bend Sports Complex this summer. The deadline to submit a proposal is the end of the day Friday.
Human Resources Director Terry Hoff said there have been some quality candidates. The proposals will be reviewed and final decision will be made at a later date.
• Authorized City Engineer Rob Winiecke to sign the Federal Fund Exchange request to allow the City to receive $167.574.05. The city has participated in this Kansas Department of Transportation program since its inception. This program allows the city to exchange federal funds for state funds, thus affording us greater flexibility with the types of repair work we can perform on our streets. The exchange is a reduction of 10 percent of the total funds available which goes to the state. The total amount being made available is $186,193.39. Following the exchange, the City would receive $167,574.05.
• Approved a rezoning request for 1101 Holland from R-3 (multi-family) to C-1 (local commercial) at the request of Marmie Motors Inc. On Jan. 26, the Planning Commission conduced a public hearing concerning this matter. Jerry Marmie indicated that the real estate would be used as a parking lot for customer vehicles awaiting mechanical repairs.
Steven Alexander, who owns property at 1106 Holland across the streeet, wrote a letter opposing the rezoning.
After the hearing closed, the commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the requested rezoning. No protest petition was filed with the City Clerk within 14 days of the hearing, said City Administrator Howard Partington.
 • Heard a report on the tinting of automobile windows. The Great Bend Police Department recently acquired tint meters that determine if the tinting on an automobile window is within legal limits.
Officers gave a demonstration and showed a video highlighting the safety issues involved with overly dark window tinting.
• Approved an abatement at 1417 Truman St., owned by Jane Bowyer, for accumulation of refuse.   
• Heard an economic development report from Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President Jan Peters.