Monthly Archives: May 2016

School Board Hears 90% Review of High School Master Plan, Hires Coaches at May 19 Meetings

By REX ZIMMERMAN

The U.S.D. 255 Board of Education held two special meetings Thursday evening, May 19, to hear a report on the high school “Master Plan” and also to approve hiring of coaches for next season.

Board members were present were Melissa Simpson, Mark Pollock, Deb Helfrich, Mariah Doherty and Mike Miller, along with board president Steve Allen.

The board first heard a report from P1 Group’s Dana Dunn, who presented the “90% Review” plan for the high school building. He began by noting that the plan is designed to be implemented over a five-year period, so estimated costs with the various projects vary from the low end (if they are done in the near future) to the high end (if they are done four or five years from now). It is up to the school board to decide what projects they would like to take on and the timeline for each project.

Mr. Dunn began by outlining each area of concern at the high school. First on the list was the security and intercom systems. P1 suggests more, higher quality security cameras with better resolution and an upgraded intercom system at an estimated cost of $18,000 to $23,000. They felt this was a high priority item.

Better locking systems for the interior doors at the high school was also a big issue as teachers now carry around large amounts of keys for the various locked doors. Cost for an upgraded key lock system was $32,000-$40,000.

Lighting was a “big deal” in the survey P1 conducted with teachers, students and community leaders. P1 recommends switching to LED lighting, which would provide a more natural and better quality of lighting for learning. The cost is high – an estimated $300,000 – but there should be considerable energy savings with LED lighting.

Another option for lighting was to install “solar tube” natural lighting which would use domes installed on top of the building to distribute natural sunlight through tubes to each room and hallway. Estimated cost is $30,000-$40,000.

The electrical system was also an issue, but not unexpected for a building that is over 40 years old and with the large increase in electric loads due to computers and other technology. P1 suggests doing an electric load study first at an estimated cost of $4,000 to $6,000. Installing additional outlets in each school room and offices would cost an estimated $65,000-$82,000.

When conducting their survey, P1 said the heating, cooling and ventilation (HVAC) was another big complaint. He said drafts that were thought to be coming from the windows were actually coming from the HVAC system. Mr. Dunn said that currently there is no outside air circulating in the building and what the building needs is a new ducting system, similar to what was done at the elementary school, to provide proper air flow, along with a better control system for the HVAC system. Total cost was estimated at $2 to $2.7 million. Mr. Dunn noted that is this project was not done, there still should be an effort to get more fresh air into the classrooms.

A couple of “high priority” items came next, including replacing the gas piping on the roof that goes to the current HVAC units, which is corroding due to roof coating being sprayed over it. That cost was estimated at $25,000 -$31,000.

Another important item was replacement of the exhaust fan in the school kitchen, which currently does not work, Mr. Dunn said. Cost was estimated at $26,000 – $32,000.

Plumbing was next on the list, with Mr. Dunn pointing out that most of the fixtures in the bathrooms, showers, etc. were original to the building and had reached the end of their useful life. The basic plumbing seems fine, he said, but the fixtures need replaced. He suggested a plan to replace the fixtures over five or six years at an estimated cost of $170,000 – $215,000.

Replacing windows and carpet at the school (some of which is also original to the building) was also discussed with a price tag of $665,000 – $819,000. A top priority item, however, was replacement of the soffits around the building, which have deteriorated badly, to keep outside air from leaking into the building and keep “varmints” from getting under them and into the roof area.

wo more “high priority” items were identified by P1 Group. A new walk-in freezer for the kitchen is needed at an estimated cost of $65,000 – $81,000 and storm shelters for the high school and elementary school buildings. Cost estimates for she shelters are around $250,000 each for FEMA style, or less for non-FEMA.

Final items on the P1 list of suggested improvements were:

  • Remodeled locker rooms at an estimated cost of $166,000 – $208,000,
  • Covered walkway from high school building to Vo-Ag building. An enclosed, sealed walkway is estimated at $295,000, but Mr. Dunn pointed out there are lots of options for the walkway project.
  • New lighting, sound system and curtains for the auditorium at an estimated cost of $270,000 – $340,000.
  • Permanent walls for some classrooms at an estimate of $8,000 – $10,000.

Total cost of doing all the projects is estimated at $4.9 to $6.1 million. Mr. Dunn stressed, however, that the board decides what projects they wish to do and when, and projects are proposed over a five or six year stretch.

The goal is to bring the building up to top shape and make it viable for another 20 to 25 years.

Financing options were also briefly discussed with Mr. Dunn reviewing several ways of securing funds for the project. Currently, the district is paying off bonds for the elementary school remodeling project done a couple of years ago with money from the Capital Outlay fund, which most likely would be used for the high school project as well.

Mr. Dunn suggested that the high priority items – gas piping, electric study and new outlets, exhaust fan, walk-in cooler and FEMA shelters – be considered for the first projects at an estimated cost of $736,000, with the storm shelters making up most of that cost.

The next step will be for P1 Group and Superintendent Dr. Andi Williams to present the final Master Plan to the board so they can pick the projects they feel are most important. Preliminary costs will also then be reviewed as well as a decision on how to finance the improvements.

After a short break, the board moved into its second special meeting. Funding proposals for the Special Education Cooperative were reviewed with costs going up. Dr. Williams pointed out, however, that the district is required to provide these services and would cost much more if each school in the Special Ed Coop were to try and provide them individually. No action was taken.

The board next gave an overview of the budget. Dr. Williams said that expects the mill levy to rise from the current 6.1 mills to 20.8 mills, where it was before the oil “boom” days. The district has the authority to increase the mill levy to that amount without a public vote. Dr. Williams also said the district would be asking the state again this year for extraordinary needs funding because of the large drop in valuation the district has experienced with the drop in oil and gas prices.

In final action, the board:

  • Approved Tim Carey as head boys basketball coach.
  • Approved Brenda Beecher as assistant girls basketball coach.
  • Approved Katherine Hughes as head girls tennis coach.

City Council Votes to Cut Funding to County Economic Development, Approves Appointments at May Meeting

By REX ZIMMERMAN

The Kiowa City Council voted Tuesday evening, May 10, to take a bigger role in Kiowa’s economic development by reducing its annual payment to Barber County Economic Development and keeping those funds for possible projects in Kiowa.

City Administrator Lou Leone told council members that in 2012 the city paid $12,000 to BCED and $15,000 each of the following three years for a total of $57,500. Most council members felt the city wasn’t receiving much for their money, as most of the new businesses the county has gained have been in Medicine Lodge.

Since the $15,000 annual donation to BCED was already approved in this year’s budget, council voted to donate $1,500 to the group this year and review the item again next year. The remaining $13,500 from this year’s budgeted funds will be used for possible projects in Kiowa. Council hoped that by withholding most of its funding this year that it might “send a message” to BCED that they desire to see more local results for its money.

Equipment Purchases

Council held considerable discussion on replacing the city’s old grader, skid loader and dump truck and finally decided on the purchase of a used 2000 Freightliner dump truck at a cost of $31,000. Council directed the city administrator to see if they could get some type of warranty on the truck, which is now located in Sioux City, IA. Purchase of another grader and skid loader were put off until more information could be gathered.

Annual Appointments

Mayor Brandon Farney made annual appointments to city positions with approval by members Tom Wells, R.L. Simpson, Bill Watson, Russ Molz and Brian Hill.

Rich Befort was appointed as Municipal Judge; Steven Johnson as Police Chief; Marlo Rugg as City Clerk; Laurel McClellan as City Attorney; and Rex Zimmerman as City Treasurer.

Administrator’s Report

Lou Leone noted in his report that the City of Attica had signed a service pool agreement with Kiowa that will allow for the sharing of equipment and personnel for electrical service work, since Kiowa now has two certified linemen.

Kansas Municipal Energy Agency (KMEA), which now supplies electricity to the city, has informed the city of an error in what the city is being charged for electricity, which will result in a credit of several thousand dollars back to the city. A capital credits check for $56,652.24 has also been received by the city from Alfalfa Electric Cooperative.

Mr. Leone said he is continuing work on the 2017 budget and has requested priority items from department heads and also council members.

City cell phones have all been placed under one provider, Verizon, to lower the monthly charge by $25. A survey of South Barber students was also held to get their opinions on what the city might need for future growth and keeping students in the community.

Thanks for Donations

The city and Kiowa Fire Department gave a big “Thank You” to the Molz Family and Kiowa General Store for their contributions towards the purchase of much needed radios for the department. The city administrator also said he conducted a walk-through with Fire Dept. personnel to access equipment needs and possible ways to fund future purchases. He has been in contact with other cities and fire departments to get information on grants and other means of acquiring equipment.

Smoke testing of sewer lines is completed and businesses that had problems were notified of the results.

Angela Cunningham has been hired as assistant manager this summer at the Kiowa Swimming Pool, which will open on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30.

The city’s electric rate has also been certified and council authorized the mayor to sign the required paperwork.

In other action, council”

  • Approved the annual insurance contract for 2016-2017 at a cost of $53,998, which is less than a one percent increase over last year. The premiums cover the city’s liability, property, vehicles and worker’s compensation, among other items.
  • Received the monthly report for the Police Department from Chief Steven Johnson, who reported that it was “a slow month, but we’ll take it.”
  • Voted to donate the Community Building to the Kiowa District Hospital Foundation on October 22 for a “beer and wine tasting: fundraiser.
  • Heard comments from council members concerning pit bull breed dogs still in town, boats and vehicles parked in yards, and various properties that need mowed and cleaned up. The city clerk will also make a list of street lights that are out or having problems that need replaced.
  • Approved a burn period in the city from May 11 through May 23.

Miranda Allen Files for Congressional 4th District as Independent Candidate

KIOWA, Kansas (May 2, 2016)Miranda Allen, a South Central Kansas Businesswoman, today announced that she is running for Congress as an Independent in Kansas’ 4th Congressional District. “Our current system is broken. Partisan bickering has replaced hard work and problem solving. Special interest money has further corrupted our democracy. I’m running to represent the people of the 4th Congressional District, not the special interests that keep today’s incumbent politicians in office.”

Kansas is at a crossroads,” she said.  “We need a leader that will be a strong voice for our district, not a rubber stamp for the special interests.”

Allen is a mom, breast cancer survivor, wife, and a successful business owner. She is a sixth-generation Kansan with a family ranch and farm in Barber County. Allen is a graduate of South Barber High School, has a B.A. from Northwestern Oklahoma State University and an MBA from the University of Colorado. Allen and her husband, Stephen, an Air Force Veteran, returned to settle in Kiowa after his tours of duty in Korea and Colorado, to raise their four children.

Allen is currently the CEO of Radiofrequency Safety International (RSI), a company that she has grown into one of South Barber County’s largest private sector employers. Additionally, her leadership as President of the Barber County Economic Development Inc. brought more than 500 energy-related jobs into the district and represents over $1 billion in investment for Kansas. We need that kind of forward-looking leadership and background in Congress representing the 4th District. Visit www.allenforkansas.com for more information and to join us in bringing back common ground to Kansas.

Tax exemption for Comanche and Barber County Passes Legislature

In an effort to help those affected by the wildfires in southern Kansas the Kansas Legislature passed Sub. SB 149.  Sub. SB 149 will allow producers and ranchers to purchase materials needed to replace fencing tax free. This tax exemption status will be for those affected in Comanche and Barber counties who were hit by the largest wildfires in Kansas history this past spring.

Senator Steve Abrams (R- Arkansas City) said, “I am happy to support this legislation that will bring some monetary relief to those affected by the horrific wildfires. SB 149 will help repair the miles and miles of fencing that was destroyed.”

Representative Kyle Hoffman (R-Coldwater) said, “Producers that were affected by the wildfires are looking at great expense in replacing the hundreds of miles of fence that were destroyed. I am pleased that the Legislature was able to pass the sales tax exemption for Comanche and Barber County, which will provide some much needed relief.”

SB 149 passed the Senate with a vote of 35-5 and passed the House with a vote of 100-21. The bill now awaits signature from the Governor. Those producers wanting to participate in the tax exemption status contact Kansas Department of Revenue.