Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.

The Hesston Record
347 B Old Hwy 81
Hesston, KS 67062
(620) 327-4831

Commuity Clamors For Answers On Country Village Purchase

Posted 6/16/2016

By Jackie Nelson

At a standing-room-only city council meeting on Monday night, residents asked for answers regarding the future of Country Village Mobile Home Park, which the city intends to 

purchase. “We have never had this many people at a council meeting,” said Mayor Dave Kauffman after the room filled with residents who had questions. With more than 40 residents attending, the public comment session was limited to 30 minutes, and residents were requested to keep comments or questions to two to three minutes each. The questions was asked about why meeting about purchasing the park were held in closed sessions, which mayor Dave Kauffman addressed. “One of the reasons, we didn’t want to get into a bidding war with another buyer. But there are many options being considered for the park. We have a long-term vision for the park that is a better, cleaner and safer park and affordable housing for the residents that are in the park. The new housing we’d look at may or may not include things like apartments, tiny or small homes, duplexes and single family homes. “Our plan, going forward, we’ll be closing on the park we believe about July 11,” he said. Following closing, he said, more public meetings will be held for Country Village residents for information and input. “In July we plan to invite all the residents of the park to a public meeting to give more information. Until this deal is closed, there are certain things we’ve been able to say. I wish we could have been more forthcoming with information up front. The deal isn’t done. We were told not to say more than we had,” said Kauffman. Kauffman said the reason the city was interested in buying the property was “the city has been interested in gaining control of the park for a number of years.” Kauffman said the current owner, Bob Tonge and Prestwick Investments of Texas, was ready to sell the property. At a 25 percent occupancy rate, Kauffman said Tonge indicated “it wasn’t a viable business for them any longer.” Kauffman said the city made a move on the property when there was another potential out-of-town buyer also interested in the property. One resident expressed concern about the lack of accountability for the current property owner. The city was asked why codes have not been enforced at the park. One resident commented: “They knew what they were getting and they have failed to fix it. Why are they being bailed out by the city at such a huge cost? Why are you bailing them out and other landlords and property owners have bad purchases and not being bailed out? Why not get fined for code violations? Where’s the accountability instead of rewarding them with a $440,000 contract?” she asked. Kauffman said if the city did not act, “the probability was high it would be another out-of-town owner. We would rather have control of it rather than go to some other party, if not a resident of Hesston.” Council member Larry Fuqua added, “I don’t believe it’s a bailout because the people that own it now paid somewhere near double that when they originally bought it, I don’t know the numbers.” A resident interjected, “This problem existed for 40-plus years. When I moved here they had problems. It’s never been enforced. You’re rewarding them for not keeping it up to code.” Kauffman replied, “We have sent numerous letters...” He was cut off by City Attorney J.T. Klaus who said, “I don’t know about any un-enforced code.” The same resident said, “File a tax lien against the property and don’t be favoring. Treat them the same as you treat the rest of us. You’re not doing that with this proposed contract.” One of the most frequently asked questions was about possible compensation or financial assistance for residents. Kauffman said compensation or assistance has been discussed. “Who has been included? Just the board? Or the board and Bob [Tonge, Country Village owner] or any of the folks included in that discussion?” asked a resident. Klaus said much of the discussion about any compensation for residents have, “been in the context of attorney-client privilege and only discussed as part of the decision to offer to buy the park.” “I’m not at liberty to tell you any more of the specifics of that,” he said. Klaus went on to say, “The City has only discussed purchasing the park if there was the legal opportunity for making a subsidy.” 

Read the rest of this entry »

Arboretum Celebrates 10th EPS Conference

Posted 6/16/2016

By Jackie Nelson

Last week, the Dyck Arboretum celebrated its 10-year anniversary as part of the Earth Partnerships with Schools program. Thirty-three teachers from across Kansas attended the week-long exploration of the prairie and finding ways to incorporate native plants into their classrooms. Brad Guhr has been the EPS coordinator for a decade, first learning about the program in graduate school in Wisconsin. “The program was only being offered in Wisconsin at the time, but we talked to the coordinators and encouraged them to take it nationwide. They wrote a grant to do so the following year and we attended a two-week training during the summer of 2005 to become one of the first regional facilitating centers outside of Wisconsin. We've been training Kansas teachers in EPS ever since,” he said. In the last decade, Guhr and the Arboretum have hosted and educated 225 Kansas teachers on the benefits of introducing native landscapes to their schools. “Many teachers coming to us understand that kids thrive and have fun with project-based learning and physically-engaging environmental education. They know that teaching in this way makes their profession more engaging and fulfilling in ways that can help them embrace a life-long career in teaching. 

To read more see this weeks print edition

Read the rest of this entry »

Clearing Out Clutter At Cleanup Day

Posted 6/16/2016

Record Staff

The City of Hesston, The Chamber of Commerce, and Nisly Brothers, Inc. will sponsor the annual City Wide Clean-Up on Saturday, June 18.

On this date city residents may dispose of unwanted items free of charge. Commercial accounts are not included. Discarded items should be placed curbside by 7 a.m. to be picked up. Acceptable items for disposal include furniture, appliances, general cleanup, etc. Refrigeration appliances must be tagged and certified free of CFCs.

All items being left for collection need to be able to be handled by one person safely. Any trash not in the trash cart must be in throwaway containers such as boxes or bags of no more than 30-gallon capacity. No box or bag may exceed 40 pounds in weight. No loose piles of trash or construction debris are permitted.

Motor oil, paints and other hazardous wastes should not be left at the curb. Other items unacceptable for pick up include tires and batteries. These items should be taken to the Harvey County Transfer Station located at 3205 SW 24th Street in Newton (316-283-5439).

Brush, tree limbs and grass also should not be left at the curb, but may be taken to the city burn site.

Read the rest of this entry »

Council Postpones Hiring Of New Officer

Posted 6/16/2016

Record Staff

Monday evening the Hesston City Council met for a regularly schedule meeting at City Hall.

Over 40 community members attended the meeting and took part in the public comment session held from 6 to 6:30 p.m. to discuss the purchase of the Country Village mobile home park.  For more details on the discussion, see the front page story in this week’s edition.

In other business, Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder approached the council to propose the hiring of a seventh full-time patrol officer.  Schroeder said the cost of the officer would be “about $52,867.” 

To pay for the new officer, the City would increase the mill rate by 1.73 mills, according to City Administrator Gary Emry.

Schroeder said in statistics according to the Bureau of Justice, a community the size of Hesston would have 2.2 officers per 1,000 residents. 

“If we use the 3,709 on  the census, we would have an average employment of 8.16 full time officers.  We currently have six full time,” he said.

Hesston has had six full-time officers since 1999.

Councilman Clare Moore noted there was an approximately 20 percent increase in calls from 2013 to 2016 projections. He inquired about the increase in the department’s budget during that time.

“The only increase would be the natural annual increases in salary and insurance. Those would be the two largest by 60-70 percent,” said Schroeder.

Schroeder said with the successes of local industry and enrollment at Hesston College, the daytime population of Hesston is most likely higher than the 3,700 figure.

“One full time officer would grant us the ability to put two officers on 66 percent of a 24-hour day.  During a 24-hour day, we are currently 42 percent covered with two officers,” he said.

To read more see this weeks print edition

Read the rest of this entry »