By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is Part 2 of the story recapping the community meeting hosted Thursday evening by Seward County staff, and will focus on projects commissioners Ada Linenbroker and C.J. Wettstein expressed excitement about.
After County Administrator April Warden finished explaining to the gathered crowd how the county’s budget works, commissioners Ada Linenbroker and C.J. Wettstein talked about some projects recently completed, plus some future projects they expressed excitement about, starting with Linenbroker.
“A couple things I was really involved in when I got elected and what I wanted to see changes in were things having to do with the youth in the community and the senior citizens,” Linenbroker said. “One of the things I’m excited about is the 4-H building. I don’t know how many of you have been out to the fairgrounds, but we have a building up, it has a roof, it’s coming along really well, and will be finished in time for the fair. We went through a lot of steps and processes to get everything done, and we ended up with a building that’s a nice size. All they have left to do is put the metal roof on the roof, finish the metal siding on the outside, and do some brick on the outside so it matches the extension office. Inside, they’re doing the finishing touches, they’ve got to put the cabinets in the kitchen, they have the fixtures for all the bathrooms, finish some painting, and hang the lights. It’s a great open space, so they can have meetings in there, or some classes or trainings. It’s going to be a great asset.”
Another project Linenbroker said she has been working with is the Liberal Senior Center.
“I’ve served on that board for six years, and we’ve been working really hard to improve some of the programs and services we have for Seward County senior citizens,” Linenbroker said. “Some of the new improvements that have been completed include ... you all know that used to be the Liberal High School cafeteria years and years ago, and if you ever stood next to the windows on the south side, you could feel the air coming through those windows, they’d rattle, and it would be either really hot or really cold. One of the things we did is we got brand new windows and doors put on the south and east sides of the building, and they’re energy-efficient, which is a huge improvement in a lot of ways.”
Linenbroker also talked about a project done at the center by the Leadership Liberal class, which included improving the concrete work and landscaping on the south and west sides of the building, which was also given praise for not only improving the look but also the safety of those entrances. Another project currently on the books is a new kitchen area at the center.
“We had to raise about $80,000 for the project, and thankfully, we had some great organizations who have helped us raise the money, we’ve got all but about $12,000 to complete the project,” Linenbroker said. “If you go in that kitchen area right now, you’ll see it’s all cleaned out, and the construction team is supposed to start soon working on getting the new kitchen built, and then we’ll be able to cook and serve the Meals on Wheels and senior lunches, and maybe even senior breakfasts in the future. That’s a great thing for our seniors because they can go in and get a healthy meal at a low price at the center.”
Another project Linenbroker said has been in the works for some time is a new building for the Road and Bridge Department on Salley Road.
“Right now ... the dirt work was all done, and the concrete work on almost all the building is completed, they’re putting a heating system in the floor, and that’s all been done before they poured the concrete,” Linenbroker said. “They’ve also got the electrical conduit in, and other areas have all been part of all that work going on. They’ve also got the main water service out there and connected, and we’ve got a deal with National Beef, they had a well right across the street from where we’re building, and they’re allowing us to tap in and use their water well.”
After Linenbroker finished her piece, Wettstein spoke before the crowd about some projects.
“One thing I’d like to say, to start, is the nice thing about our meetings is we televise them and live-stream them so people can see exactly what goes on,” Wettstein said. “We actually started televising our meetings back in 1989, and they were televised so anyone could watch, and at that time, we had the 8-track player you could plug in and watch it all again. There’s a lot of commissioners who say, ‘You guys are televised?’ and I tell them we’ve been doing it since 1989, and they’ll say they’re afraid of being televised, so there’s a lot of counties that don’t keep track of all that for records, so I’m pretty proud of the fact we do that for the community.”
Wettstein also talked about how the county frequently works to save money for projects.
“We’ve always worked as a county to try and have the money set back so when we need to build something, it’ll be paid for,” Wettstein. “We built the new fire station in Kismet last year, and it sets right out there on the highway. We’d been putting back $50,000 per year for eight years, and that project cost us around $380,000. It was a building that was needed, but we’d been putting money back for a long time so we could do that. We did the same thing with the Road and Bridge building and the new 4-H building.”
Wettstein also alluded to some future work he would like to see out at the fairgrounds.
“Something out at the fairgrounds I still think we need to look at is putting in new water lines,” Wettstein said. “We’ve got a lot of water lines, and they don’t ever pop until we need to use them. Then about 12 years ago, we got the administration building built. Then out at the ag building, there was a dance out there that night, and everyone came out with sweat streaming down their faces, so we eventually upgraded the air conditioning system out there.”
Wettstein also talked about work done with the landfill, which became a Subtitle-D landfill back in 1995.
“The nice thing about that is, our landfill is not supported by tax dollars at all, it’s paid for by itself,” Wettstein said. “So really, what we do at the landfill, whether it’s trash hauling or compacting or whatever, tax dollars do not go into that. We’ve also purchased property across the road, and we still have about 50 to 100 years of landfill space left, so to me, not only are we thinking about right now, we’re thinking about the future and what the community’s going to have to contend with.”
Wettstein also briefly discussed the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, which he called “one of the best things” as it plans ahead for five years, which helps with some planning matters as far as what to set money aside for, and also talked about some work being discussed with 360 Engineering regarding energy savings. The last project Wettstein talked about was putting in horse stalls near the ag building, which Wettstein said turned out very well.
After Wettstein’s presentation, Angela Eichman gave a brief presentation about valuations to the gathered crowd, and then the meeting ended with a question and answer session.