Humboldt targets site for development

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December 12, 2017 - 12:00 AM

HUMBOLDT – Humboldt Council gave the OK Monday night to pursue a federal grant to help develop a 24.8-acre plot northeast of town.
Administrator Cole Herder told Council he had his eye on a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The funds would be used to extend utilities to the site. An as yet unnamed company has expressed interest in developing a heavy equipment service center there.
According to an engineering study, an estimated $672,000 is required to pay for extending water, gas and sewer lines to the land, owned privately by Humboldt Community Growth, Inc. (HUGRO). Humboldt’s development responsibility would be only to the property line.
This morning Herder was to have met with Allen County commissioners, to see if they would be amenable to helping with the project, “which would be to the county’s (economic) advantage” by opening the property to development, not only for the service center, which would occupy 5 acres, but also other businesses. Herder added another business had expressed interest in the site.
If Humboldt can identify a way to extend utilities, HUGRO will sell the property to a developer, who has promised to have it annexed to the city. HUGRO has paid taxes at the land’s agricultural value. If it is annexed and occupied, the owners will have property tax responsibility to all entities, although taxes may be put in abeyance for 10 years under provisions to encourage economic development.
Initially, the service center would have three employees, two technicians and a parts person, with quick growth in employee numbers anticipated.
Specific components of utility extensions will be cost of (by B&G Consultants, Lawrence, estimates) mains to carry sewerage $56,000, water $114,000 and gas $120,000. Associated costs will add to the total.
The company that wants to open a service center has a national scope, Herder said. One of its areas of focus is Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. “It has a hole in southeast Kansas, and they like Humboldt because it is close to cement plants” — Monarch and Ash Grove, which have fleets of unusually large equipment that overwhelm capabilities of shops now in the area. Being close to U.S. 169, a handful of miles from U.S. 54 and not far from U.S. 400 also are advantages.
 
OTHERWISE, council members:
— Gave their blessings for the Kyle Swope Memorial Cruise Night on the Humboldt square the afternoon of April 28. Swope, a 2010 graduate of Iola High School, died from injuries he suffered in a vehicle accident in 2014. Among his interests in high school was Future Farmers of America. His sister, Morgan Jackson, gave two scholarships to Humboldt seniors involved in FFA last May from fundraisers and donations. She hopes the April event will raise enough money to give scholarships to FFA students at Iola High as well as Humboldt next May.
— Accepted a $5,500 financial audit contract with Jarred, Gilmore and Phillips, Chanute. The firm has done Humboldt audits for about 20 years. Cindy Hollinsworth cast a “no” vote, citing concerns about familiarity between auditors and Humboldt. Also, in answer to a question, Herder said the city’s threshold for bids on purchases was $300, which council members other than Hollinsworth were willing to overlook.
— Approved a contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield for health and dental insurance, at a cost in 2018 of $180,213.36, an increase of 1.86 percent. Only Herder, by virtue of his contract, has his spouse covered. Cost to employees of adding children or spouses in virtually all cases is prohibitive.
— Sales of two police cars, an older trencher and police car equipment through Purple Wave auction site netted the city $4,933.50.
— Gave Tracy Keagle and Humanity House volunteers a pat on the back for decorating the city square. “Looks as good as I’ve ever seen it,” said Mayor Nobby Davis.
— Were told U.S. 169 from Minnesota Road, which leads to the Allen County Airport, to Delaware, locally known as Tank Farm Road, would be closed for a total rebuild from April 3 to Dec. 5 of 2018. Herder said he had not learned whether on and off  ramps at those two intersections would remain open. Kansas Department of Transportation announced its official detour would be on U.S. 75.

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