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Whats in a name?
Convention Center to change identities
new deh city council budget convention center pic
The Great Bend City Council voted Monday night to change the name of the Convention Center to the Events Center.

 Wine-tasting events OKed for zoo

Rotarians to call attention to victims of disasters and hunger


Wine will be coming to the Great Bend Zoo after the Great Bend City Council Monday night approved the holding of two wine-tasting events at the facility. 

First, it OKed a motion allowing the Great Bend Rotary Club to serve wine at the “Bears, BBQ, Wild Beasts and Wine” event at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo on the evening of May 1.

The zoo wine tasting will be from 6-10 p.m. Wine will be provided and served by Rosewood Wineries, under their license.

Each year, Rotarians from across the state gather in the city of the current district governor. This year, the gathering will be here in Great Bend since the governor is Roger Marshall. 

In addition, the council approved a request from NexTech to hold a “Wine in the Wild” event at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo from 6-9 p.m. Sept. 26. A representative of NexTech said they will serve and sell wine.

This will be a fundraiser for the zoo with tickets costing $30 for individuals and $50 for couples. The goal is to attract a new group of supporters to the facility and raise $5,000 in the first year.

In a matter related to the Rotary Club event, the council also approved motions authorizing the organization to display two of their “Shelter Boxes” and set up a “Fork the Yard” display at Jack Kilby Square from April 30 to May 3.

Shelter Box is an official partner of Rotary. The company provides 2x3-foot box contains a tent that will house 10 people, and all the supplies a family might need to survive for several weeks. These boxes have been used in Hurricane Sandy, the Oklahoma tornadoes, and around the world.  

Fork the Yard is an event that brings attention to the 2,600,000 children that die each year from starvation. There will be 2,600 (plastic) forks in the court yard lawn, each fork representing 1,000 kids. 

The club will be asking the youth of Great Bend to come place the forks. 

 The Great Bend Convention Center will have a new identity. The City Council Monday night approved renaming the facility the Great Bend Events Center.

There had been some discussions in the past regarding the issue, Mayor Mike Allison said. “We’ve had several ideas.”

The change, officials said, better describes the role the city-owned facility plays. 

 In August 2011, Ambika Enterprises, a partnership between husband and wife Tejal and Amarish Patel of Concordia, and an uncle, Ishwar Patel of Vancouver, Canada, bought the hotel portion. The family, which already operates smaller hotels in Concordia and Beatrice, Neb., officially took over the hotel portion of the Highland Complex on Aug. 23, 2011.

In that same year, the council approved utilizing $500,000 donated by an anonymous group of local residents to purchase the convention center.  

 The attached Highland Hotel has 174 rooms and was started in 1962. The center and the office complex behind it (which is also owned by the city) were built in the 1980s.

In other business Monday night, the City Council:

• Appointed Scott Keeler as director of public lands. The director of public lands interview committees unanimously recommended Keeler to Mayor Mike Allison, who made the appointment. Council confirmation is required for finalization of the appointment. 

An Army paratrooper veteran, Keeler has been with the city parks department since 1994, serving as the park supervisor since April 2000. “No one knows our public lands system better than Scott Keeler,” City Administrator Howard Partington said.

The committee included Allison, Councilman Dana Dawson, Partington, Human Resources Director Terry Hoff and Public Works Director Don Craig.

 The position of the director of public lands had been empty for several years. It was last held by Mike Cargill.

Since that time Hoff, in addition to his human resource director duties, has directed the operations of the airport, cemetery, Wetlands Aquatic Park and parks. Bob Suelter, in addition to his city attorney duties, has directed the operations of the Great Bend Zoo. 

Now that the position of Police Chief had been filled it was suggested that the city’s administration concentrate efforts on filling this opening. 

• Authorized the sale of two additional lots in Amber Meadows to Ross Vogel as part of the Phase I Rural Housing Incentive District. The council also authorized City Attorney Bob Suelter and City Administrator Howard Partington to work with other persons wanting to purchase lots in that area, and when all issues are resolved present the deeds to Mayor Allison for his signature.

At the Oct. 20, 2014, City Council meeting a land purchase agreement was approved with Vogel for the purchase of eight lots. Vogel plans to break ground on the first of the homes Friday.

There are eight lots that have not been spoken for.

• Set a hearing to consider a dangerous and unsafe structure at 1401 2nd St. for June 1 prior to the council meeting. It may sound odd, but complaint and notice has been sent to the owners of record for the property, Russell J. and Ida Chambers, both of whom are deceased. 

Officials are also checking for possible heirs.

  Inspection of the premises has been completed, said Code Enforcement Officer Stuart Baker.

The structure is not occupied and no utilities in service at this time.

It has been allowed to be in such a state of disrepair and overgrown with vegetation that it is considered to be unsafe and dangerous to the citizens of the City of Great Bend, Baker said. The condition of the premises is an eminent danger to the adjacent property owners and to the public and it  is a blighting influence on the adjacent neighborhood.

• Heard an economic development report from Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President Jan Peters.

• Approved abatements at: 1714 Baker Ave., owned by Nicholas Dyer, for a motor vehicle nuisance and at 210 Hubbard St., owned by Rodney Gray, for accumulation of refuse.      

• Approved a sidewalk dining license for La Resa Likes of Great Bend Coffee at 2015 Lakin Ave.  

• Set a team-building work session for 11:30 a.m. Friday. One of the top governing body goals is to “construct new housing and demolish substandard housing.” The new position of code enforcement officer was established last year at budget time. Stewart Baker was hired to fill that position late last year and he would like to provide an update