Humboldt in works for service center

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November 14, 2017 - 12:00 AM

HUMBOLDT – Humboldt is on the cusp of attracting a service center for a major heavy equipment company, City Administrator Cole Herder told council members Monday night.
The company has nationwide reach and currently operates 23 service centers. “They have a hole in southeast Kansas,” Herder said, which led to negotiations with Humboldt Community Growth Inc., (HUGRO) and the city.
An issue that has Herder working feverishly to solve is extension of utilities to a 24.8-acre tract HUGRO purchased less than two years ago. The company would occupy about 10 acres on the tract, just east of Mt. Hope Cemetery.
The developer that would facilitate construction of the service center, where all sorts of earth-moving and similar huge devices would be brought for repairs and maintenance, predicted the remainder of the tract would be occupied soon with other enterprises.
A quick study by B&G Consultants, Lawrence, indicated cost of bringing a six-inch water and eight-inch sewer mains and six-inch gas line to the property would approach $600,000. Herder said he had no stomach for increasing utility rates, one means of amortizing cost of such a project, and is uncertain what the answer may be. “We’re working on it.”
“We (city workers) could do some of the work,” in concert with private operators, he told council members. A potential source of financial assistance is the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “I’ve thought of little else” than the proposal and how to get utilities to the site, Herder said.
Most of the utility extensions would be from connections half a mile away, at the north end of 10th Street, or, in the matter of natural gas, along 14th Street just east of the Westar shops.
“We need to figure out a plan,” Herder said.
The company hopes to be in operation by spring, with 10 to 12 employees on board initially. Construction time is pegged at about 12 weeks.
In a historic reference, Herder pointed to an award Humboldt just received from the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency, recognizing Humboldt for having had a city-owned gas utility system for 100 years, dating to 1917 and today the 54th oldest of any municipality in the United States. Herder, in a fit of research, found Humboldt purchased the gas system from a private owner for $10,000.
“That was a lot of money 100 years ago, and it might be related to this,” the cost of extending utilities to the development site. “That was a good deal then and we might look back on this years from now” with the same reflective satisfaction, he said.

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