Purchase photos

Former Ellis shop could have new life





A historic Ellis building soon could be repurposed to house an expanding business, as Ellis County commissioners voted Monday night to lease the former Ellis shop building to a local economic development group.

Travis Kohlrus, representing the Ellis Industrial Development Corp. brought a proposal before commissioners last week requesting transfer of the shop building to the EIDC for the expansion of a local business.

At that meeting, commissioners told Kohlrus some of the acreage surrounding the shop building is needed by the county for storage of public works materials. EIDC's new proposal, presented Monday, addressed the county's concern.

"Over the next 12 months, we will work with our local business to coordinate a land swap," the proposal said. "During this period, we would like to retain first right of refusal to obtain the remaining property for the purposes of this project."

Kohlrus told commissioners at Monday's meeting his group wished to move forward with the proposal.

"(The proposal will) handle mainly the business at hand, which is the building that the county wants to get rid of, and we think we have a good home for," Kohlrus said. "So that's really what the update is, just to exclude that extra 4 acres or so."

Commission Chairman Swede Holmgren told Kohlrus retaining the building's historical nature is a concern of Ellis residents.

"Once the transfer is made to you guys, then the city of Ellis and the community of Ellis is going to look to you," Holmgren said. "And whoever you move in there would have that obligation to make sure some of that historical preservation is maintained."

In an effort to allow cleaning of the building to commence as soon as possible, commissioners voted 3-0 to lease the building to the EIDC for $1, from Nov. 20 to Dec. 3, pending review by county counsel and EIDC board members.

In other business, commissioners:

* Were updated on Ellis County Extension office activities by Susan Schlichting, Ellis County Extension agent.

* Interviewed Greg Vahrenberg, managing director of Piper Jaffray, as the county considers contracting for financial consultant services.

* Received an update from Public Works Director Mike Graf on a county bridge project north of Ellis.

* Gave County Administrator Greg Sund and Graf the go-ahead to prepare a road and bridge project prioritization matrix.

* Were updated by Graf on the upcoming Nov. 30 retirement of Noxious Weed Director George Korobka.

* Authorized Sund to search for an engineering firm to address the Ellis County shop building's exhaust system issues. In addition, commissioners said funds would be made available to install two exhaust fan units.

* Adopted a resolution to allow a meteorological tower to be erected by Buckeye Wind Energy LLC.

* Reviewed the county's computer use policy and agreed to vote on the policy Dec. 3.

* Voted 3-0 to adopt the county's comprehensive plan.

* Authorized payment of bills associated with Rural Water District No. 1 KANSTEP grant.

* Discussed sending a letter to entities that receive county subsidies, informing them of the possibility of decreased county funds in 2013 due to possible funding cuts that might trickle down from the Kansas Legislature. Sund will draft a letter and email it to commissioners for their input.

* Voted to authorize payment of Diehl's commission service stipend through the end of his term Jan. 14 on the last regular payday of December 2012 to allow Diehl to give the funds to the Kansas Association of Counties for a county map project at the state capital building.

* Granted a drinking establishment license to Precision Valley Golf Center LLC, effective Nov. 19 through Nov. 18, 2014.