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Two for one
Great Bends Al Burns Field may be home to two summer teams
new deh city council al burns pic web
Al Burns Field at Veterans Memorial Park was the home field for the Great Bend Boom pro baseball team this summer. For next year, it was sought by the Booms Pecos League as well as by Roger Ward who wanted to bring summer collegiate baseball to town. - photo by Tribune file photo

In other business Tuesday night, the Great Bend City Council:

• Authorized a parade for local law enforcement on Sept. 11 at the request of Joseph Trimmer and Sherry Axman. “We would like to put on a parade to support local law enforcement both present and past,” the two wrote in a joint letter to the city. They want to be able to have floats and open it to anyone who wants to participate. 

“We would be riding on horseback and will decorate our horses in red white and blue and that would be the theme of the parade,” they wrote. “This would be a great moral booster and would be something positive in all that is going on in the media with the negativity with law enforcement. We will get people to participate and get the community involved.”

• Accepted the low bid of $234,065.23 from Vance Brothers Inc. for the 2016 KLINK (Kansas Connecting Links) project. Bids were taken recently for the work which is a microsurfacing on Main Street from 10th to 19th. The only bid received was from Vance Brothers Inc. They plan to do the work in 2017.

The cost for this is split in half between the Kansas Department of Transportation and the city.

• Authorized Mayor Mike Allison to sign the supplemental agreement with PEC Engineering Consultants of Wichita for engineering services for the water system improvements project in the amount of $226,337. Included are 11 pieces that are part of an over $5 million endeavor.

These have been prioritized and they might not all get done, but officials said it was better to have them all designed just in case.

This is for the following project areas:

1) Lakin from Stone and Odell.

2) Forest from Stone and Odell.

3) Morphy from Lakin and Forest.

4) Broadway from Morton to Harrison.

5) Stone from between Fifth and Sixth to Broadway.

6) Eighth from Main to Holland.

7) Second from Main to Frey.

8) Seventh from Main to Holand.

9) Williams from 16th to 18th Street.

10) Holland from Eighth to 10th Street.

11) Broadway from Main to Morton.

• Approved a cereal malt beverage license for Chad Ehrlich. He requested the one day license for the Expo Grounds for the F&E Collector Auto Auction on Oct. 8. 

• Adopted the Standard Traffic Ordinance and the Uniform Public Offense Code Ordinance. Each year the city adopts the ordinances which are amended annually to align with changes in state statutes. 

• Approved abatements at: 408 Locust motor, vehicle nuisance Miguel Angel and Mata Gamez; 133 Locust, motor vehicle nuisance, owned by Jasmine and Librada Adame’; 133 Locust, accumulation of refuse, owned by Jasmine and Librada Adame’; 816 second, accumulation of refuse, owned by Noe Chavez; 2201 27th, motor vehicle nuisance, owned by April L. Williams; and 1819 Stone, motor vehicle nuisance, owned by Joseph L. Farris.

 It could be a double play for the City of Great Bend after a scene of dueling baseball teams at the City Council meeting Monday night.

First, on the agenda was the renewal of the contract for the Pecos League’s Great Bend Boom’s use of Al Burns Field at Veterans Memorial Park. However, next was a request by Roger Ward to bring a summer collegiate baseball team to town.

“This was a problem we didn’t have two years ago,” City Administrator Howard Partington said. 

After much discussion and presentations by the new Boom General Manager Tory Arnberger and Ward, it was the feeling of the council that both teams should get the chance to play at the facility. “I’d hate to let this opportunity go,” Partington said.

Arnberger was the first at bat and spent quite a bit of time defending the Boom. The pro team got off to a rocky start this year with problems finding host families for the players and questions about payments to them.

Then, there were concerns from council members about the reputability of Pecos League Commissioner Andrew Dunn, the fact that the players had to spend much of the season coaching themselves when the coach left and other concerns.

“This was the first year,” Arnberger said. It was also an opportunity to learn from their mistakes.

Indeed, with Arnberger in the bullpen, more advance work is being done to pull in sponsorships. This year, there were only three and the team ended the season in the red.

Also, the schedule will be changed so that the Boom will play more of the eight teams in the league. This will prevent the 11-game series with one squad.

In addition, some of the Boom host family members were at the meeting. They said they are excited to have the players back and are forming an association to make the transition smoother next spring.

Next came Ward who said he’s been working on this project for over a year. “I love Great Bend and I love baseball,” he said.

He wants to form the Great Bend Bat Cats with collegiate players from around the area, including athletes from the University of Kansas and Barton Community College.

“I’ve taken my time, talking with potential leagues as well as local people, to make sure that I had a successful plan put together if I brought a summer collegiate baseball team to town,” Ward said. “The reason is has not been brought to light previously is mainly because I wanted to make sure this would be good for our community, and that it would involve players from our community and surrounding ones.”

The timing could not be better, he said. “I finished my two-year plan with legion baseball, as well as fall baseball with area kids who are now moving on to play in college.”

He is confident what he has in mind will be successful and supported. “It will also bring a substantial amount of money to our town in many ways.” 

Being around the game for a long time means he know a lot of baseball people. “It wasn’t much of a surprise that the Jayhawk League and the Kansas Collegiate League Baseball contacted me wanting me to be the guy to bring a team here and join their league.”

Ward played in the Jayhawk with the Hays Larks and the Liberal BJs. “It would be a dream to have a team here in that league. 

They invited Ward to a league meeting on Aug. 27. “It was a slam dunk,” he said, adding the league welcomed Great Bend.  

Great Bend Public Lands Director Scott Keeler said he worried that Al Burns couldn’t withstand two teams of this caliber playing and practicing on it. But, there were no other fields in Great Bend that would meet their needs.

Although teams prefer to practice on the field they use for home games, Ward said he was willing to have his players practice at the BCC facility. “I want to do what I can to make this work.”

These are amateur athletes, he said. He will not charge a gate fee and make all his revenue from selling advertising.

In the end, the council voted to table the matter until its next meeting Sept. 20. In the meantime, they asked that Arnberger and Ward meet with city officials and representatives of the Great Bend Recreation Commission, which is responsible for scheduling at Al Burns, to iron out a compromise.

This would include a contract for each team detailing the lease rate, other fees and maintenance responsibilities.

The proposed contract for the Boom noted that the Pecos league would have paid the city $2,000 for use of the field, up from $1,500 this year due to the need for increased maintenance. 

The Great Bend Recreation Commission had the authority and control to schedule for the facility. GBRC programs, Unified School District 428 boys’ baseball team, the Kansas State High School Athletic Association baseball tournaments and the Great Bend American Legion Baseball teams use the it during the spring and summer. 

GBRC and USD 428 shall have priority of scheduling if rescheduling is necessary due to weather. Rescheduling shall not result in the cancellation of a scheduled Pecos League game and the league will meet with GBRC to develop a schedule.

Pecos League would again be responsible for cleanup of the premises after every use. It will also be responsible for hand dragging and chalking the field for game preparation while providing the labor, equipment and materials necessary to maintain the field to the city’ expectations. 

In addition the league would have paid the GBRC $25 per game for field preparation in addition to the facility use charges, provide any security and prohibit cereal malt beverages from being taken from the complex.

Keeler said the Boom did a good job of keeping the place clean and taken care of this season.

If contracts are offered to the Boom and the Bat Cats, they would likely be similar. However, the facility use fee may not be as high.