Purchase photos

County building project moves forward





The Ellis County Commission voted 3-0 to award the renovation project for the future administrative center at 718 Main to Paul-Wertenberger Construction, Hays, at Monday's meeting at the Ellis County Courthouse.

"I am very pleased at this point, start moving forward," Chairwoman Barbara Wasinger said. "It's a very exciting day."

Conco Construction, Wichita, had the lowest of three base bids at $631,000, followed by Paul-Wertenberger at $639,000, then Commercial Builders, Hays, at $648,000.

However, once two of three alternates were factored in, Paul-Wertenberger had the low bid of $709,000.

"I think in all of the discussions we've had, alternates one and two really weren't considered alternates," Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund said. "We just wanted to know what the cost of each one of them was, whereas alternate three truly is an alternate."

The first two alternates -- counter build-ins and a security grill for the treasurer's office -- will be paid through the motor vehicle fund.

In addition, the $13,000 cost for a glass wall separating the lobby from the clerk/appraiser office area will come from the equipment replacement reserve from the appraiser's office.

Those cost savings bring the project's cost down to $626,000. The amount budgeted was $600,000.

The third alternate would remove the center stairwell -- which goes up to the second floor and down to the basement ­-- completely. Paul-Wertenberger's bid was the lowest, at $25,000. The commission also could opt to remove just the stairwell to the basement. That cost has not been determined.

The project is expected to be finished in 180 days.

It was the second round of bids for the project. In December, two bids were rejected; the low bid was $944,000. Since then, the commission has worked with department heads and Spangenberg Phillips Tice Architecture to reduce the scope of the project.

In other business:

* Commissioners went into executive session with Sund for 15 minutes to discuss non-union employee matters. No action was taken.

* Commissioners approved a contract with Commerce Bank for a five-year lease/purchase agreement at an interest rate of 2.05 percent, with semi-annual payments of $16,515, to fund the purchase of 138 self-contained breathing apparatus units for Ellis County Rural Fire District No. 1.

* Commissioners approved an amended version of purchasing policy and procedures.

* Commissioners approved an amended version of the budget policy.

* Commissioners approved four High Risk Rural Road Grant applications for stop sign replacements; asphalt widening on Old U.S. Highway 40 between Yocemento and Ellis; construction of extensions to widen culverts on Old U.S. Highway 40 between Yocemento and Ellis; and upgrade and installation of guard fence on Old U.S. Highway 40 between Yocemento and Ellis.

* Commissioners approved the Ellis County noxious weed plan.

* Commissioners were notified of a lease change at 718 Main, with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas vacating its office on the second floor to relocate to a building across the street on Main Street.

* Commissioner Swede Holmgren asked county staff to determine if it would be cost-effective for some county vehicles to fuel their vehicles at the county shop.

* Commissioners were informed by Sund he was notified by a parish official that the former Kennedy Middle School no longer is an option to relocate county and law enforcement offices while the courthouse, law enforcement center and jail are under construction. County officials had toured Kennedy, the Hadley Center, and the former Hays Pathology Lab as possible temporary office locations.

* Commissioners received a report on a recent special meeting of Northwest Kansas Homeland Security. The region had $221,000 to be spent on projects. Among projects chosen to be funded were two portable corrals, an animal trailer to be used in emergencies, and an armored car. Of the $220,000 cost of the armored car, $100,000 would come out of the funds allocated, and the rest would come from the KBI. The KBI will own it, but the car will be stationed in Hays. It will be able to respond with the Hays Police Department SSRT team, as well as with the KBI.

* Commissioners received the monthly county Extension report. Horticulture agent Holly Dickman discussed xeriscaping and drought-tolerant plants for northwest Kansas.