County agrees to fund Humboldt project: Other requests back on table



December 20, 2017 - 12:00 AM

Extension of utilities to accommodate development of a 24.8-acre tract east of Humboldt received unanimous support from Allen County commissioners Tuesday morning.
The county will pay 50 percent, about $336,250, of the total bill. The remainder is hoped to be met with a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
“We have letters of intent from the developer and the company,” which intends to build a shop to service heavy earth-moving equipment, said Humboldt Administrator Cole Herder.
Herder said the bulk of the expense comes from extending sewer lines.
“Water and gas are not so much of a challenge. But, sewer is,” because of underlying rock and the fact sewers operate on gravity flow, which often requires deep trenching.
Herder said he was optimistic of the EDA funding.
“I talked to … (a representative) many times,” which has bolstered his confidence of federal assistance.
Commission Chairman Jim Talkington offered the motion to enable the project, and put the county’s participation at a flat 50 percent rather than a specific dollar amount. Construction of the service center, on five aces with another five acres reserved for expansion, will take about 12 weeks, meaning it should be up and running by early summer 2018. The remainder of the tract will be available for other businesses, including one that Herder said had shown keen interest.
He also thinks once utility service is in place, other land in the area will be developed, although no specific plans have been unfolded.

LOREN AND Regena Lance of Mildred and those who want to form a food cooperative to operate a grocery store in Moran will have another chance to make their cases for county assistance.
An economic development committee, appointed to make recommendations to commissioners, rejected appeals from both parties last Thursday evening.
The Moran group wants $100,000 to complete financing so it may purchase Stub’s Market and inventory, upgrade and refit the store and have enough capital for initial operation. The would-be Moran marketeers have identified about $400,000 of the $500,000 they think is necessary to proceed.
Their request was turned down Thursday by a three-to-two vote, with two committee members absent.
The Lances asked for $20,000 to make upgrades to their store, the only retail outlet in tiny Mildred and in much of northeast Allen County.
Committee members unanimously refused the Mildred appeal.
After discussion, some mildly contentious, commissioners tabled the committee’s two recommendations, in favor of the the committee rehearing requests at a Feb. 6 meeting.
Commissioner Jerry Daniels pointed out commissioners deferred decisions on major issues “until we’re all here,” and proposed committee members should do the same.
Commissioners also said committee members may not have fully understood their charge, which is to provide assistance to existing and proposed businesses as well as nonprofits.
Weber noted “the process is full of growing pains.”
The economic development committee can make loans or grants of up to $150,000 this year, and another $150,000 for 2018. This year’s set-aside will be added to 2018’s, increasing the total to $300,000.
Some individual conversations, between the Mildred and Moran parties, may occur with Dick Works, chairman of the economic development committee and a former commissioner, or other members before the February meeting. Then, requests also will be heard from Bolling Meats and the technology center near LaHarpe. Others may apply until Jan. 17. A $300 fee is required of applicants.
The committee was formed, at the behest of Chuck Apt, an Iola attorney.
Allen County has accumulated about $4 million in reserves since 2014 from a substantial (about $35 million) increase in assessed valuation from Enbridge pipeline company.
Already the county has awarded $100,000 a year, through 2018, to the Bowlus Fine Arts Center; stepped in with $180,000 to help G&W Foods build a new grocery in Iola; and, Tuesday, came to the aid of Humboldt to extend utilities east of town.

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