Several area organizations appeared before the Butler County commissioners to present funding presentations in hopes of receiving Windfarm funding on Tuesday morning.
Many area organizations rely on funding in order to complete large projects or repairs vital to the continued function of their facilities. Organizations are given the opportunity to request up to 50 percent of the funding for a project.
The first to speak was Rod Seel, executive director of Coutts Museum of Art, which is located on N. Main in El Dorado.
“The museum is one of the most recognizable buildings in downtown El Dorado,” said Seel. “We have tried to take good care of the building and we understand the position we hold as a landmark in the community. We’ve noticed in the past few years some deterioration in the front of the building. The concrete columns in the front are starting to crack and the cracks are getting moisture in them and then it freezes and causes more problems. Although the problems aren’t catastrophic at this point, we want to stop them before they get to that.”
The museum does not receive any state, federal, or local funding and relies solely on donations to continue its operations.
“Estimates are about $30,000,” said Seel. “We’ve asked for $15,000 from the wind farm. If the project comes up to the top of the estimates, we will come up with $45,000. Our current annual budget is approximately $200,000, which we fund from the interest of an endowment. We have a membership of about 231 patrons and we have a pretty strong following in the community. We will be able to raise the remainder of the funds required for this project.”
“In 2011, the museum received $10,000 for lighting, but they only used $7,000 because it came in under budget. That money was returned to the fund for other uses,” commented Commissioner Dan Woydziak.
“This museum is a real asset to the community,” said Commissioner Mike Wheeler.
A trustee from the First United Methodist Church was next to address the commission.
“The church has the privilege of owning the Butler County Family Life Center,” began Trustee Greg Joyce. “It’s an important place for Butler County’s care for people. The facility helps 66 women and a number of children. These are families that are escaping from an abusive situation. Those numbers are about average. The facility also provides client advocacy, education and training throughout the county, teen dating violence courses, which are taught at the local high schools. They teach a program called Kid Safe, financial management classes and other courses. We own the building and it is aging. It was built in 1911 from limestone block. It is a state historical register property. Our problem is that the north chimney is collapsing.”
Page 2 of 4 - The church has requested funding before, but has not received funding since 2006.
“In 2006, the church requested money to re-roof the safe house,” said Wheeler. “It was the first designation of the monies from this fund.”
“We did look into seeking funding from the Heritage Foundation,” said Joyce. “The grant application is horrendous. We decided that the cost of hiring someone to simply understand how to complete the application would out-weigh the cost of the project.”
When questioned about the overall budget of the facility, Joyce was unsure of the operations, but was able to give an idea of the overall maintenance.
“The church budgets about $500 a year from our trustees fund for the upkeep of the building,” he said. “We turn to several avenues for help to run the facility day to day. They get some state grants and that helps with their operations. We don’t charge them any rent and we just maintain the property. This is a project that if it doesn’t get done, they might lose their happy home.”
The cost of the overall project is $8,250, but only half of that amount is requested from the funds.
“This is a tremendous service to all the residents of Butler County,” commented Wheeler.
Lou Clennan from Tour Butler County was also present to speak about the organization and how it could benefit from the windfarm funding.
“Tour Butler County is a volunteer organization,” began Clennan. “There is an ambassador from Tour Butler in every town in Butler County. We do solicit their support for various events. In 2013, the town representatives began to gain the availability of posting events on 360El Dorado’s Web site. We are hoping to engage our ambassadors more and more by doing this. We also just recently launched our updated Web site. Our updated brochure is printed and is continually distributed as well as our Kansas visitor’s guide. We couldn’t accomplish all these things without your financial support. Thank you very much for believing in us and for your positive for our county.”
With upcoming events looming in the near future, Tour Butler began to explain their need for help in funding new and old projects.
“Finally after many years, Symphony in the Flinthills is coming to Butler County,” Clennan said. “All of the towns in Butler County seem very interested in seeing how we can help.
“Our future project is also ongoing and that is why I’m here. We need to continue the project of the signage welcoming our visitors to Butler County. We started the project in 2009 and we currently have four in place. We’re asking for two more signs by Whitewater and a sign north of El Dorado. The approximate cost is $7,600 for the entire project and we are requesting $3,800.”
Page 3 of 4 - “If we are talking about where to place new signs, we might consider placing signs on the turnpike,” added County Administrator Will Johnson. “There’s a possibility there as well. In the future, that might be a good avenue.”
“You’ve done a wonderful job in the community. We just can’t thank you enough,” commented Commissioner Peggy Palmer.
A pathway of understanding memorial project caused Kathy Walter from Flinthills Services, Inc. to come before the commission with their request for $15,500.
“I’m here to discuss with you our request for funding for our pathway of understanding,” began Walter. “As you know, we have a very beautiful building and we’re very grateful for the support of the community, but we find it necessary to have a sign to mark where our facility is. We did have a temporary sign that was made of canvas, but almost three years of the Kansas wind and it was shredded. The idea for a memorial walkway came up. The project has morphed to include a lighted flag pole as well. We have a bid for the walkway from PKHLS and it includes space for a 30-foot flag pole as well as a walking path. We have a brickmaker that will work at a reduced cost. A portion of the selling of those bricks will actually be able to be sold as a fundraiser. We’ve sold a few bricks. We’ve requested a little over $15,000.”
There is still a hope to help reduce the cost of the overall project with other fundraising avenues.
“If we get this support from the county, we hope to get some materials and labor donated in kind to help lower the cost,” said Walter. “This will be viewable from both major highways. We’d like to have something to identify us a little bit more thoroughly. We’ve sold seven bricks so far and we have a couple people interested, but we have spots for a couple hundred. If there is a very large response for bricks from this project, we have the space and the means to expand it if necessary.”
The overall need for the services of the facility are steadily increasing, so the view of the organization is there will be an ongoing need to commemorate those who the program has helped.
“There are over 3,000 kids in special ed county co-op,” explained Walter. “People are even coming out here from Sedgwick County for education, which means we will be seeing tremendous growth. As far as this project goes, we take care of people throughout their lifetimes. We start when they’re 18 and we’ve been doing this for 20 years. A lot of these people are our friends and family, this memorial would be wonderful for them. This is the potential to make this a very beautiful and meaningful symbol of what we do.”
Page 4 of 4 - Jan Brandom, a representative from Wheat State Manor, the only non-profit nursing home in Butler County, brought a request for $13,000 to improve television services for the residents.
“Our building is aging and one of the things needing our attention is our television services for our residents,” said Brandom. “The new system that we’re asking for your help with in providing funding for would also provide wifi services to the residents. We serve approximately 100 residents a year. We believe they deserve good TV with a good reception. Our population is aging and they’re more tech-savvy.”
“When you’re sitting in one room, you’re going to want to have as much entertainment as you can get,” commented Woydziak.
“We are not talking about watching television as part of a passive activity,” said Brandom. “The residents can watch something that keeps them engaged. It can offer educational benefits and it helps to cope with some of the disengagement that can come with moving into a nursing home. They will also be able to skype on a big screen TV to see their loved ones. The nursing home market is very competitive and we’d like to ensure our future now. This funding would be a tremendous help.”
The commission, after hearing all of the presentations, will further discuss the funding after the end of the year.
“We’ll come back after the fist of the year to look at these and see which ones we want to fund,” said Johnson.
“The projects overall are very good this year,” commented Woydziak.
The commission also:
• approved the 10 senior center contracts for 214.
• scheduled a work session to discuss the mileage reimbursement policy for commissioners.
Kari Adams can be reached at email@example.com.