In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:
• Approved participation in the Kansas Department of Transportation Federal Funds Exchange Program. The agreement allows the county to use banked funds for upcoming approved federal-aid projects up to $302,160.82. Under the agreement, the county authorizes KDOT to accept the federal funds on its behalf with the state retaining 10 percent of the money. The balance, 90 percent, would be available to the county, said County Engineer Clark Rusco. The advantage is that there are more strings attached to the money when it comes from the feds, so now the county will have more flexibility in using the funds.
So, Rusco said this would mean the county would get $271,944 of the total. With this money, the county has $492,315 banked with KDOT.
There is little chance these funds could be “swept” out of this account and used by the state Legislature for something else.
• Approved a $9,992.18 bid from Little Giant Fabrication of Great Bend to install a fence on the triangle-shaped property at what is known as the Doonan radio tower to prevent accidents. It was the lowest of three bids. Each side of the site is approximately 533 feet. Bids include barbed wire fencing, corner posts and a 12-foot gate, said 911 Director Doug Hubbard.
This is the site of a new tower where an agricultural implement clipped the guy wire and toppled the previous one last July. The new tower was installed in January and Hubbard said they were looking ways to prevent similar accidents from happening again, hence the fence.
• Approved the purchase of additional battery-backup power for the county’s computer equipment from Weber and Associates of Wichita for $6,220.50. During the last power outage in May, the county’s servers had backup battery power for only 25 minutes, but the power was out for nearly 40 minutes.
Longer battery life is needed given the 24 hour operations of several County offices, said Information Technology Director John Debes. The new system will allow for up to an hour.
The existing battery would have been sufficient for 60 minutes, except that the county added another server which caused it to be drained quicker.
• Heard an update on departmental activities from County Administrator Richard Boeckman.
The world of grants and loans for economic develpment available from federal and state sources is a complex one, one that Dodge City-based Great Plains Development helps navigate.
So, Barton County Commissioners Monday morning renewed the county’s membership in the organization to which it has belonged since the 1980s. The dues are $6,889 and and are based on 25 cents per resident in GPD’s 28-county region of southwest Kansas.
“Barton is one of our more active counties,” said Bob Wetmore, GDP executive co-director. Since 1983, GPD has had a hand in bringing over $54 million to the county, creating 1,113 jobs and retaining 1,420 others.
Basically, GPD assists member counties and cities, with Small Business Administration loan applications, community development block grant writing and economic development revolving loans. It does not hold the money in accounts, it just counsels applicants on where and how to get it.
Other services include working visits with members and handling the accounting and reporting requirements that track the use of the funds.
The loans and grants are available for economic development projects, fire trucks and ambulances, sewers, streets and bridges, libraries and handicapped accessibility. But, Wetmore said there have not been very many applicants recently.
However, he said, they spend a lot of time defending rural Kansas in Topeka where officials are quick to cut funds for development efforts. “We say here is what we do, we create jobs. They think that anything west of Wannamaker (a major street in Topeka) is a dirt road.”
“We have a good relationship with Barton County,” said Paul Olsen, president of the GPD board. A retired banker from Pratt and board member for 26 years, he has enjoyed working with county officials.
Pawnee, Rush and Stafford counties are also GPD members.
It is one of 12 similar agenices across Kansas. Not all are based on the same dues structure, with some being funded by a mill levy or other means.