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Council to hire insurance consultant
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City to sign contract with architect

In preparation for the $1 million Great Bend Convention Center remodeling project, the City Council Monday night authorized Mayor Mike Allison to sign a contract with the Wichita architectural firm WDM.
In addition, the council determined what should be included in the scope of work to be done by the architect and what could be done by the city. It was decided that, generally speaking, everything done to the inside and outside of the center building should fall into the architects purview.
The so-called “flat work” done outside to the parking lot can be done by the city’s engineering department.
However, WDM will come to the council and outline its plans. At this time, the council can decide to give more of the work to city employees if feasible.
The council on Oct. 2 selected WDM for the project. The company’s fee for the work comes to $93,300 for the design, administration and coordination of the work.
The city will take over day-to-day operations of the center on Jan. 1, 2013, the same day it will be shut down for construction. A coordinator will be hired by then to market and manage the center, and handle bookings after it reopens Aug. 1 of 2013.

The Great Bend City Council Monday night rejected the recommendation of its Health Insurance Independent Consultant Selection Committee to not hire an outside consultant. It instead opted to sign a contract with Charlesworth Benefits of Overland Park to guide the council in bidding and selection an insurance carrier for the city.
“We had considerable discussion,” said committee and council member Dana Dawson. At a cost of $12,000, he said they voted 2-1 against the idea.
Dawson was joined by council members Randy Myers and Dale Westoff on the committee. Dawson and Myers voted not to hire the consultant and Westoff cast the dissenting ballot.
Myers said the administration and employees are happy with the current insurance arrangement in which Blue Cross and Blue Shield serves as a third-party administrator. Plus, he said, there have been no rate increases this year.
“We didn’t see a lot of savings,” Myers said. “We can’t see any reason to change.”
However, Westoff said the council is not being “financially responsible to the taxpayers” by not looking at other options. These include local companies such as Benefit Management Inc.
Council members Mitch Haney and Nels Lindberg agreed with Westoff. When it comes to the city’s million-dollar-plus insurance plan, it should be bid out every year.
If there were problems with the current plan, Dawson said it should be examined. But, “I don’t feel at this time it is broken.”
None the less, the council voted down the recommendation 7-1, with Dawson the only affirmative vote.
The committee did look at proposals from four consultants. As a contingency, they had picked Charlesworth.
The council unanimously approved authorizing Mayor Mike Allison to sign a contract with the consultant.
The firm now has until Dec. 3 to come back to the council with its findings. Whatever Charlesworth recommends must be equal to or better than the existing policy.
In other business, the council:
• Approved a request from Mike Snyder to close Sherman Street during the presentation of the Judgement House by the First Church of the Nazerene. This will be from 4-10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26, 3-10:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28.
• Approved abatements at: 2201 Kansas Ave., owned by Anna Dahl, for accumulation of refuse (AOR); 408 Almond, owned by Doug Demitt, for AOR; 3001 Gano, owned by Jesus and Maria Lujan, for AOR; 2537 12th, owned by Dina Resendiz, for AOR; 2520 11th, owned by William Ray and Brenda Bendure, for AOR; 1704 Baker, owned by Larry Sloan, for AOR; 1223 Jefferson, owned by Hector and Maria Lopez, for AOR; 1718 Baker, owned by Richard Reece c/o Kim Thomas, for AOR; 318 Elm, owned by Jose Del Carmen Castillo, for a vehicle nuisance; and 2215 Madison,. owned by Tammy Noblitt, for a vehicle nuisance.
• Authorized Mayor Allison to submit a letter of support for the submission of a grant application for the purchase of two new mini busses for the Commission on Aging. It is an 80 percent state/federal grant share and a 20 percent city share for the busses. The anticipated cost of a mini bus is $60,000.
• Accepted the recommendation of the Planning Commission and approved a rezoning request by Ken and Barbara Schumacher to rezone from C-2 (general commercial) to M-1(light Industrial) a parcel of real estate located at 5523 Tenth (the former Kansas Door location). Sunflower Diversified has entered into a contract to purchase the real estate contingent to rezoning and a conditional use permit for the real estate. Sunflower’s First Step Recycling division wishes to move its existing recycling operation to this location and expand its recycling efforts creating new jobs for persons with disabilities.
In a related matter, the council also went along with the Planning Commission recommendation to grant a conditional-use permit to Sunflower to operate its recycling center at the new site.
• Approved two sidewalk improvement assistance projects. The city’s Engineering Department developed two programs aimed to encourage residents to remove and replace existing dilapidated sidewalks adjacent to their property. Property owners can either be paid a one-time payment of 50 percent towards materials or 20 percent (up to $500) for materials for such work. However, the actual installation must be done by a licensed contractor.
There was talk about revisiting the city ordinance requiring the concrete work to be done a contractor. Some on the council thought do-it-yourselfers should be allowed.
• Approved signing interlocal agreements with USD 428, Barton County and Barton Community College to form a Neighborhood Revitalization Plan that encompasses most of the area within the Great Bend city limits. This action followed a public hearing on the matter.
• Heard an economic development report from Economic Development Director Jan Peters. She said there are a number of “really hot prospects,” one of which is oil field related.
• City Administrator Howard Partington presented an update on the activities of the various city departments.