Gene West responds to John Unruh's positions.


   The problem with sitting outside of public meetings and not taking an interest in the details until you decide to run is that you miss out on the discussion and information that goes into the decision-making. John Unruh’s statements in his recent article in the Kiowa County Signal were either misinformed or untrue. I would like to set the record straight.

 

Who led whom in designing County buildings?

The insult is not deserved. Many hours were spent looking for the most cost effective building and energy systems in all projects. Architects did not lead Commissioners; we led them.

 

GLMV architects (formerly MVP) and PEC are regionally based with a clear understanding of south central Kansas. Dale Maltbie of PEC grew up in Mullinville. To imply that the architects were out of touch with our area is absurd.

 

Anyone who has read the literature from NREL knows that energy savings in Greensburg are significant. Why would anyone build with 19th century methods?

 

The legality of the petition and use of Road and Bridge funds

The resolution approved by Commissioners clearly stated the request for revenue bonds could be dropped at any time. We simply agreed to the petition and followed its mandate even though the petition itself failed to meet legal requirements.

 

No Road and Bridge monies were used for the Commons. At the end of the year, it is required that money not used in all departments be returned to the general fund. That money can be held in reserve or transferred to Capital Outlay for County use. R&B surpluses were specifically used for R&B construction.

 

R& B consultation

Road and Bridge was represented at all pre-construction meetings. To suggest that we took anything away from money needed by R & B is not only irresponsible, but untrue.

 

Health insurance

Our insurance agent shops for the most economical plan each year. The County was self-insured up to two years ago when it became less expensive to change to our current provider. We always look for the best plan in terms of cost and coverage.

 

First District representation

As a representative of the First District, I represent everyone in the First District. The line runs from Cedar Street in Greensburg east to the Pratt County line. The Commissioner from the First District does not exclusively represent the city of Haviland—it includes a lot more.

 

The City of Haviland can do much for its residents that the County simply has no authority to undertake. That is what Haviland’s City Council is for. The First District Commissioner must see the whole District as it fits into the whole county.

 

Mr. Unruh thinks I have not heard the discussion as we sit at the coffee table in the Haviland Hardware store. I listen, and I listen to everyone else too. Mr. Unruh is upset because much of what I hear is in direct opposition to the coffee table talk—such as creating working relationships with federal grant providers.

 

Responsiveness to the Haviland District

It was at my suggestion to John Unruh that Haviland partner with USDA for improvements to the Haviland city streetscape. Mr. Unruh’s objection to using grant money, it seems, only applies to County buildings in Greensburg.

 

Grant money from the federal government does come out of our pockets, and good partnerships with FEMA and USDA help bring some of it back into our communities.  It is our money coming back to us.

 

The City of Haviland asked for help to demolish a house thought to contain asbestos. The County offered to take it into the landfill if proper procedures were followed. It was presented as a priority. The County is here to help.

 

The Belvidere School roof and windows have been repaired.

 

Haviland and the County have signed a mutual aid agreement to assist each other with fighting fires in the county. And 911 is now installed. This is good progress.

 

The County was happy to supply the equipment to help take the street out in front of Barclay’s main hall. The landscaping looks great!

 

Our differences …

Mr. Unruh would have said “No” to grants to rebuild $20 million worth of public buildings; instead he would have relied on inadequate insurance funds and the $3 million we did use from county coffers. He thinks the bays at R & B aren’t big enough now …just think what they would have been without USDA!

 

The Soda Fountain (salvaged from the former Hunter Drug) is to be a permanent display for the historical museum. The Historical Society (which is a 501.c.3) will operate it, not the County. Its historical significance to the community is well understood.

 

As for the future—think small – get small.

 

This election will help determine the future of Kiowa County. Will we go forward, or will we go back to the good old days?  It is your decision.

 

Thank you,

 

Gene West