Work is underway to construct a monument to the former Great Bend man whose invention changed the world as we know it. The project to build the Jack Kilby Plaza on the west side of the Barton County Courthouse started Thursday morning.
Kilby was a 2000 Nobel Prize winner in physics for the development of the integrated circuit.
A crew from Wichita-based Eby Construction was in Great Bend Thursday and got right to work. The company had the low bid for the job at $408,085.
The goal is to finish with the work by the time winter sets in, said project foreman Luke Doll. The contract allows for 84 days.
By the middle of the afternoon, the surveying had been done, some sod removed and sidewalks laid. City Parks Department employees were on hand, locating a main irrigation line that runs under the site. It will have to be lowered to avoid interfering with the new development.
"We’re doing the whole thing," Doll said. This includes all the concrete, removal of the pine tree (known as the Mayor’s Christmas Tree), and the landscaping. When they are done, it will be ready for the statue of Kilby to be installed.
In August, the Great Bend City Council approved the bids and contract for construction of the plaza, making way for the memorial to the possible.
City Attorney Bob Suelter told the council members that the bid from Eby was below the engineering estimates.
"These bids are all pretty good," Suelter said at the time, adding that Eby Construction is prepared to begin work by Oct. 10. However, the Wichita firm got to work sooner.
The Jack Kilby Committee recommended that the city council accept the low bid from Eby.
The project is being paid for with contributions, and not with tax dollars. "They’ve raised adequate funds for this," the city attorney said.
Suelter said the city staff will move the irrigation lines, but the bulk of the work will be done by the contractor.
Kilby Committee Chairman Glenn Opie said the committee is ready to see the project move forward. "It’s been a long road, but it’s been well worth it."
He said the committee is please to be working with Eby Construction, and that the company will get done ahead of schedule, if possible. "If it turns out they can go faster, they will. They’re not locked in to 84 days."
Work will be dependent on the weather.