By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
Seward County’s K-State Research and Extension office may soon have some additional space.
Monday, county commissioners gave Extension officials and county leaders and staff the go ahead to put out for a bid a new building structure for the agency’s office.
County administrator April Warden, one of the leaders working on the project, said the project has been in the works for quite some time.
“The commissioners have been discussing and building projects for an Extension office and 4-H building or a building project out at the fairgrounds,” she said.
Commissioners encumbered $50,000 in youth projects for 2013 and $50,000 in the special projects fund in reserve for claims in 2014, a total of $100,0000, to be used for such a project.
“We spend close to a million dollars a year on bad kids,” commissioner C.J. Wettstein said. “We decided we needed to set back $50,000 a year to do some projects for good kids. This project kind of fits the bill.”
Warden said she, maintenance director Delbert Stebens, Activity Center Director Linda Johnson and planning and zoning staff met with Extension officials in 2013 in regards to additional space the agency needed for its programs and 4-H programs.
“They haul their stuff in between the Ag Building, the Activity Center,” Warden said. “One of the churches in town has allowed them to come in and use the space.”
Warden said a room next to the commission’s chambers in the Administration Building had been examined for use, but following another item at Monday’s meeting, that room will now be used for the county’s planning and zoning department.
“At that time, we did get a bid to complete the room, and it was around $35,000,” she said. “Since then, you guys have talked about doing something different and actually locating this expanded are they need out by where they’re currently located.”
The recommendation from Warden called for the commission to direct her, Stebens, Johnson and planning and zoning staff, along with Extension leaders, to work together on specifications following policies and procedures to properly bid out a new building for Extension and 4-H.
Warden said it had also been discussed to put the current Extension office on water and sewer provided by the City of Liberal at the same time the new office is being constructed.
“We have had some issues out there,” she said. “They have had to have their septic system worked on. They’ve had to have it pumped more than once.”
Commission chairman Ada Linenbroker said she wants to see the building built, but she would likewise like having a facility with affordable utility costs.
Extension Family and Consumer Science Agent Kathy Bloom said the agency’s budget is tight, so much so that it does not pay its own utilities. Those are paid for through the funding K-State receives from the county.
Warden said the new building would have an open floor plan, meaning there would not be office rooms in the facility. She added the building would be similar sized to the current office, which would hopefully keep utility costs low.
“If they have bigger activities, they could still use the Ag Building or Activity Center,” she said. “We don’t know what the completion date would be to do this. You guys do have money set aside in reserve for claims.”
Warden said allowing the group to meet would let them know if the new facility could be constructed using the $100,000 encumbered for the project.
“This committee would have to see what the cost would be,” she said. “I think it was our idea to ask them is this something you guys can afford. It’s a county building, and we’ll maintain as we do the Extension office now. They do pay their own utility costs at this point.”
The commission voted 4-0, with commissioner Randy Malin absent, to direct Warden, Stebens, Johnson, planning and zoning staff and Extension officials to work together on specifications, following all policies and procedures to properly bid out a new building for the Extension/4-H office.
The motion also directed staff to determine the cost and procedure of putting the current Extension office on city water and sewer.
This morning, Bloom told the Leader & Times the new office would be constructed behind the current one with a walkway between the two buildings.