Library renovation project proceeds



January 27, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Iola commissioners approved the hiring of General Services Corp. of Oswego to handle the first major renovation to the Iola Public Library since its construction more than 40 years ago.
The contract was offered Tuesday to General Services after commissioners learned the company had the lowest of six bids received.
The bid of $648,100 pushes the entire project’s cost to $840,000, or $40,000 more than previously expected.
The General Services base bid of $534,000 included construction of a new public meeting room, a revamped entryway and a redo of the circulation area, all in attempt to add shelf space without adding onto the existing building.
The alternate projects, totaling $115,100, include energy-efficient windows and lights and a pair of new rooftop air-conditioning units.
Funding for the project comes from a $400,000 Community Development Block Grant, matched by another $440,000 from the city. Of the city’s funds, about $100,000 will come from library reserves.
In accepting the General Services bid, commissioners stipulated that any subsequent change orders receive their approval.
Commissioner Craig Abbott pointed out that because the budget is so tight — the project includes a 5 percent contingency fund, just a fraction of what a typical construction project would entail — any change orders could be costly.
“And you’re out of money,” Abbott said.
Library Director Roger Carswell agreed that pinching pennies was necessary, pointing out that the library will cut costs in any way possible, such as purchasing used shelving and pursuing less expensive lighting systems than what were set in the alternate bids.
City Administrator Judy Brigham said the remodel project should be complete by April 2011.

COMMISSIONERS gave a glowing review a promotional video touting Iola.
The 20-minute video was produced through the help of the Community Involvement Task Force and will be unveiled to the public at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Iola Area Chamber of Commerce Business EXPO.
The video, filmed and narrated by Elsmore native Ian Coday and his production company HWY Pictures, shows life in and around Iola, noting the community’s schools, parks, attractions such as the Bowlus Fine Arts Center, special events and business and industry information.
The video was filmed from August 2008 through last December.
Brigham, a CITF member, said the video could be used as a recruitment tool, while Mayor Bill Maness suggested the video be played on Iola’s public access television channel.
“It looks nice,” Abbott agreed.
With the video project complete, CITF will again set its sights on the future and finding ways to receive federal grant funds and other earmarks for the community.
In recent years, CITF members have embarked on a series of activities that have resulted in more than $1 million of federal funds for the community.
First, CITF members helped spearhead a massive income survey that illustrated the community’s need for financial assistance. Secondly, CITF members have made repeated trips to Washington, D.C., to lobby for funding.
The group’s efforts have brought in a trio of $400,000 block grants, the one for the library; a second grant funding improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment lagoons; and a third that will pay for housing rehabilitation in the southeast part of town.
The efforts were funded by an initial $20,000 investment by the city.
But those funds have been exhausted, Brigham said, leading to CITF’s request for another city donation.
Commissioners Abbott and Bill Shirley voted in favor of giving CITF another $7,500, enough to pay for another trip to Washington in February. Maness abstained from voting because he is a CITF member.
Abbott said that with future requests, CITF should provide an itemized budget to give commissioners a better handle on how the city funds are being utilized.

DON GEORGE, a naturalist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, said a paddlefish snagging season will be opened to area sportsmen from March 15 through May 15.
The snagging will be allowed only along city property south of the Neosho River Dam on U.S. 54.
George said special permits will be required to prevent “culling” or gathering more fish than legally allowed.
He also will visit with the Iola Police and Allen County Sheriff’s departments about what will be permissible.

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