County talks grocery options

Allen County commissioners continue to chew on the idea of helping a Humboldt grocery store get off the ground.


Local News

January 29, 2020 - 3:11 PM

Scotty Welch, from left, visits with Allen County commissioners Jerry Daniels, Bill King and Bruce Symes as they carefully look over online and print data linked to Our Hometown Market, the proposed new grocery store in Humboldt. Photo by Trevor Hoag

Allen County commissioners continue to chew on the idea of helping a Humboldt grocery store get off the ground.

Commissioners received an update Tuesday on Humboldt’s Our Hometown Market from City Administrator Cole Herder and grocery store proprietor Scotty Welch.

Welch said he’d come to see if commissioners had any follow-up questions after last week’s meeting, when he and his wife Amy approached the commission to form a partnership that would help launch the new store, specifically via the county helping purchase refrigeration units designed to lower potentially devastating utility costs.

“I didn’t come here today to try and get an answer,” Welch explained. “We’d like to get an answer, the sooner the better, but it’s a big decision on your part.”

Commissioner Bruce Symes asked about the status of grants connected to the store. (Answer: They’re still waiting.)

Similarly, it’s possible the City of Humboldt may be able to assist with the store’s conversion to gas utilities, but the Council has not yet approved anything.

Commissioners briefly looked over handouts Welch provided, and were interested in data that estimated how much the new store would make per week as well as how it might affect the local economy, especially with regard to how much business might be shifted away from existing stores in Allen County. 

Symes explained that despite Our Hometown Market inevitably affecting G&W in Iola, constituents he’d spoken to were nonetheless supportive.

In terms of moving forward, commissioner Jerry Daniels said, “I think when you have confirmation of your grants, that’ll be an important factor.” 

Commissioners still wanted time to digest the proposal, “to let everybody chew on it,” because they “have a lot to consume.”

IN OTHER news, the Commission discussed an upcoming countywide vote on whether to extend a sales tax measure to support Allen County Regional Hospital.

The county’s quarter-cent sales tax authority expires soon. Commissioners have not decided whether to ask voters to approve another a quarter-cent rate once again, or to put a half-cent sales tax rate on the ballot. The added revenue would fill the void after Iola ends its financial support to the hospital this year.

County commissioners previously discussed putting a three-eighths-cent sales tax up for a vote. However, state law allows only quarter- or half-cent increments.

MICHAEL Burnett, EMS Director, provided an update on Emergency Services, along with Iola Fire Chief Tim Thyer and Iola City Administrator Sid Fleming.

Burnett said EMS answered roughly 2,150 calls this year. The group discussion shifted to furnishings and signage for new ambulance stations in Moran and Humboldt. Concrete is being poured at the station in Moran.