The last time that Glenn Opie came to a Great Bend City Council meeting, City Attorney Bob Suelter told the council members that the bid from Eby Construction to complete the Jack Kilby plaza area in 84 days for $408,085, was below the engineering estimates.
Then Opie met with county officials, and made it clear in another update that all of that money was coming from private donations, from people who wanted to see the 2000 Nobel Prize winner and Great Bend native, honored in what he had always considered to be his home community.
This week, Opie returned to the city council, this time to announce that the project is all but completed, and well under that 84 days that were allowed in the construction contract.
What remains is that placement of the bronze statues of Kilby and two young children, and specialized lighting for the site.
Opie, the Kilby Committee chairman, told the council that the construction began Sept. 30 and moved along quickly.
The site, even without the statues, is already drawing attention, from local residents and others, Opie noted. He said he noticed recently that a semi had stopped in front of the site and found it was passing through town and the driver had stopped to eat his lunch and view the recently completed plaza.
While this phase of the project is 97 percent done, Opie estimated, he added that the 3 percent remaining is vital.
Of course, there are the sculptures that are being prepared by local sculptor Chet Cale.
But the sophisticated lighting that remains to be done is vital to the finished product, too.
Opie explained this will be specially customized and installed just for this project.
There are also going to be specially-purchased flags, larger ones, for the two new flagpoles, he told the council.
It is all coming together better than even the Kilby Committee could have hoped, he added. “We’re very encouraged, that you are going to have something beautiful to look at.”
Kilby was a 2000 Nobel Prize winner in physics for the development of the integrated circuit, vital for just about everything that makes today’s technology operate.