County commission approves increased museum funding
Leavenworth County commissioners splurged Thursday, agreeing to fund area museums above levels that were previously determined.
In June, commissioners capped county-based tax funding for historic and cultural centers at $100,000, to be parceled out through competitive grants rather than by giving awards on a case-by-case basis, as had been done in years past.
In July, the board set aside $45,000 for the Leavenworth Historical Society, housed in the Carroll Mansion on Fifth Avenue in Leavenworth, after an envoy of the society's supporters petitioned the commission to maintain funding at its 2007 level.
It was up to commissioners Thursday to decide how to distribute the remaining $55,000 to nine different local museums whose original grant requests totaled more than $130,000.
By the end of discussions, the board had winnowed funding down to $61,635 -- less than what was requested, but $6,635 more than what had previously been allotted.
Decisions were based on need and how likely projects were to increase tourism for all of Leavenworth County.
"The projects all seemed well received," said County Counselor-at-Large Keyta Kelly, who prepared the grant applications for the commission.
Projects included renovating old trolley cars that were transported back to Leavenworth County by the Leavenworth Historical Museum Association, the organization that runs the Parker Carousel Museum, First City Museum and the National Fred Harvey Museum in Leavenworth.
"Out of all of these, I think the trolley request is the one more likely (to increase tourism)," Kelly said.
Tony Baker, with the Carousel Museum, said walls needed to be erected and electrical and HVAC work must be done to renovate the museum's top floor.
The Harvey House, at Seventh and Olive Street in Leavenworth, needs extensive work to fix its roof, replace dormers and install an adequate heating and cooling system, Leavenworth Historical Museum Association President Del Sanders said. The $4,500 that the commission provided for the Harvey House will supplement $260,000 procured through state and federal grants, Sanders said.
Commission Chairman J.C. Tellefson said that was the thought behind the entire cultural grant process.
"My hope was to show local support for when your groups want to go out and apply for grants," Tellefson told those gathered Thursday. "Obviously we're not going to fund everything. We can't. Our responsibility is to sit down and figure out in our minds how to do this."
Ultimately he and commissioner Clyde Graeber (Commissioner Dean Oroke was not present) voted to award funding to local museums as follows: $5,000 -- Trolley Exhibit; $4,060 -- Tonganoxie Historical Society; $10,000 -- Basehor Historical Society; $2,929 -- Lansing Historical Society; $9,800 -- C.W. Parker Carousel Museum; $4,500 -- National Fred Harvey Museum; $8,646 -- Richard Allen Cultural Center; $8,700 -- First City Museum and $9,000 -- Carnegie Arts Center.
In the 2007 county budget, $96,000 was allocated to museums: $46,000 made available to the Leavenworth Historical Society housed in the Carroll Mansion; $25,000 to the First City Museum in Leavenworth; $10,000 to the Richard Allen Cultural Center in Leavenworth; and $5,000 apiece to historical museums in Lansing, Tonganoxie and Basehor.
In other business Thursday, the commission:
- Voted, 3-0, to temporarily store county equipment and records in the former County Infirmary at 1830 S. Broadway in Leavenworth.
The decision came on the heels of a notice by landlord Louis Klemp, who said the county's space in the Abernathy building, an office building directly west of Centennial Bridge in Leavenworth, must be vacated when its lease ends Oct. 30.
Users of the space include Emergency Medical Services, Human Resources, the County Clerk and Election Office.
Earlier this month, commissioners received four bids for storage facilities, but all were passed over because of space, cost or transportation issues.
Commissioner Dean Oroke raised the idea of using the infirmary Thursday, an option he said "would save about $20,000 in rental fees."
Tellefson added that the equipment could be moved again, if the infirmary happens to sell.
County Clerk Linda Scheer said she was happy a decision was made, provided adequate security measures are taken on the building.
- Heard deputy director of public works Mike Spickelmier report back from an Oct. 9 meeting with Kansas Department of Transportation officials held to nail down plans for a tie-in with U.S. Highway 24-40 for the County Road 1 Improvement Project.
KDOT had requested a tie-in with U.S. 24-40 go south of Honey Creek Road, whereas Oroke said he has contended all along that a location north of Honey Creek near the Heartland Church of the Nazarene is more feasible, because a new drainage culvert would not be necessary there.
Spickelmier told the board, "We (the county and KDOT) are in agreement that we will not make any modifications to that drainage structure (at the southern location) whatsoever, and we will realign our section of the road to ensure that we are not required to make any such modification."
In a Sept. 20 teleconference, KDOT Assistant Secretary Jerry Younger told the commission that KDOT was willing to split the cost of changes to the plan for County Road 1, then estimated at $800,000.
Since then, the board has received a proposed engineering contract from HNTB reflecting the latest changes in the amount of $154,399. Those changes could ultimately affect the cost of right-of-way acquisition as well.
When Commissioner Graeber asked for an exact amount KDOT would contribute, Spickelmier said, "The response we got is ... funding will have to be negotiated."
He told the board that they could progress with right-of-way acquisition with the exception of the northern portion of the project.
- Voted, 2-0, to reallocate $26,000 in funds the commission had committed to multi-systemic therapy, a program the Juvenile Justice Authority runs through Leavenworth's Guidance Center for serious and violent juvenile offenders, after the JJA did not receive adequate grant funding from the state to keep the program afloat.
JJA Administrative Contact Anne DeShazo said the county's MST program, which counsels delinquent youths and their families, was discontinued Oct. 1.
To get the program started again, the state will either have to revise its method of distributing state block grants to JJA districts or will need to see its $3.5 million request in funding for graduated sanctions programs go through, DeShazo said.
She told the commission that both options are being investigated, and, if the increased funding request is approved, it could mean as much as $170,000 for the JJA's 1st Judicial District in Leavenworth and Atchison.
- Heard a quarterly report from county surveyor Dan Schmitz. Schmitz reported that work on a countywide monumentation system is progressing. The department will add 68 monuments to the 24 existing currently, giving surveyors 95 percent coverage in any 2-mile radius in the county, in the next two years, Schmitz said.
IN BUSINESS MONDAY, THE BOARD:
- Heard a quarterly report from Council on Aging Director Linda Lobb.
Lobb said she was very pleased with a health fair the council recently attended and reported that the nutrition program, which includes the county's Meals on Wheels program, is thriving, with an average of 179 meals dispersed each day.