Expo Center Improvements Unveiled

Saline County Commissioners reviewed a preliminary list of improvement to be made at the EXPO Center during a study session on Tuesday. Commissioner Jim Gile chaired several meetings of an EXPO Center committee that includes interested users. Last week’s meeting produced a prioritized list of improvements that are divided into short and long-term projects.

The 2016 Capital Improvement Fund has a balance of $167,000. The committee assigned these priorities, which have a total projected cost of $138,500, for possible completion in the short term:

1. Replace the 4-H building and Kenwood Hall air units for $42,000.
2. Replace fans in Ag Hall and barn(s) for $10,000.
3. Replace door closures in Ag Hall for $6,000.
4. Expand the showers in Barn 2 for $20,000.
5. Remodel the restrooms in the 4-H building for $20,000.
6. Replace sides of barns 3 and 6 and paint for $6,000.
7. Paint 4-H building and Kenwood Hall for $4,500.
8. Paint rodeo arena and catwalks for $6,000.
9. Landscape around EXPO Center perimeter for $6,000.
10. Purchase LED sign facing Greeley Street for $10,000.
11. Purchase LED sign in front of 4-H building for $8,000.

In terms of possible 5-year capital improvements, four projects with a total cost of $660,000 were suggested by the EXPO Committee:
• A covered warm-up arena for $160,000.
• A new barn with dimensions of 100’ x 200’ for $220,000.
• Burying utilities for $230,000.
• Trenching for $50,000.
Before committing to making long-term improvements, the County is seeking resolution of the EXPO Center lease, which the City holds; the lease expires in 2017.

Additional details will be provided by Rick Lamer, EXPO Director at future Commission meetings.

Commissioner Luci Larson said that the “public perceives” that the Bi-Centennial Center and the EXPO Center “are interrelated”; the County oversees a variety of activities conducted at the EXPO Center while the City oversees activities conducted at the Bi-Centennial Center. In reality, two different governing structures are involved..

Commissioner Jim Gile said keeping the EXPO Center at its present location “is a win-win for downtown” development and that this could help the City get STAR bonds. Those who attend the various EXPO Center’s events and shows spend nights in area lodging and visit downtown. Gile said that the community-wide Christmas dinner and the CAPS auctions, held at the EXPO Center, benefit city residents.

2016 Strategic Planning Goals

Last week, the Commission discussed strategic planning for 2016. The discussion was condensed into these goals:
• Place more rock on roads.
• Review practice of washing trucks at Blue Beacon; does the County need a wash bay at the Road and Bridge shop?
• Negotiate a long-term lease at the EXPO Center.
• Review the use of the Saline County Juvenile Detention facility, now that juveniles are taken to Junction City (the building is currently being used for storage).
• Review Environmental Health services.
• Address tax lid impact on budget.
• Determine plans for the Claywood property.
• Address trash haul route issues (tipping fees).

Chairman Monte Shadwick said that in 2016, the Commission wants to see that two committees (the Health Advisory Council and one to reduce the jail population) are working as intended.

During the study session, Commissioners:
• Granted the Health Department permission to begin the process of pursuing the usual grants it receives in order to continue to provide existing services. Commissioner Gile asked HD Director Jason Tiller if the health department would be pursuing any new grants; Tiller said no.
• Signed an agreement with KansasWorks to help those in jail find jobs, when released.
• Signed an agreement with Acucare to provide physical and occupational therapy primarily for the health department’s home health services.
• Received a report that Road and Bridge has spent $32,101 to date to comply with SPCC, the Fire Marshall, and EPA.
• Welcomed an “expression of interest” form from Tracy Wiegert to serve on the Solid Waste Committee.
• Considered the process for appointing individuals to serve on the Judicial 28th Nominating Committee; by e-mail, Janice Norlin provided statutes for this process.
• Heard a Human Resources update from Marilyn Leamer. Later, the Commission went into a thirty minute executive session dealing with a proposed health and wellness program for County staff.

Commissioners also:
• Considered a Request for Action from the Sheriff’s Office to purchase portable radios with lapel microphones and charges in the amount of $14,655.
• Considered a Request for Action for a data backup system upgrade with Eagle Communications of Saline in the amount of $21,315.
• Heard a Right of Way vacation; Tod Roberg owns property on either side of the right-of-way.
The two Requests for Action will likely be voted on during next week’s Public Forum.

There was no public forum.

Story by: Karen Shade for KSAL News

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