Commission appoints Bergkamp to CVB board

4/21/2014

By SCOTT AUST

By SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

The Finney County Commission on Monday appointed Robin Bergkamp, president of Palace Computer Center, to fill an unexpired term on the Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors.

Bergkamp will serve out the term of former board member Kathy Sexson through the end of the year.

Six candidates applied for the at-large position. The CVB board last month picked Bergkamp and Brian Nelson, executive director of Lee Richardson Zoo, to recommend to the county commission to fill one spot.

"Both of these candidates come highly qualified," Kim Inderlied, CVB executive director, said.

Commissioner Dave Jones, who supported Bergkamp, reiterated his views about the makeup of the CVB board.

"I still feel we need somebody from the business community, where they represent a business not a service they can provide. It has nothing to say anything negative about Brian or his fine efforts," Jones said.

In January, Jones expressed concern that some of the CVB board's members came from organizations, like the zoo, that may directly benefit, either directly or indirectly, from CVB funding of events taking place at those organizations' facilities. Jones felt a few board slots should go to non-tourism related businesses.

CVB officials have indicated in the past that the state charter that sets the makeup of the CVB board refers to business people who are all hoteliers. But rather than have a 10-member board made up entirely of hoteliers, the local CVB organization chose to have six hoteliers and four at-large board members.

Jones said he has no beef with a majority of the board being hoteliers. But some of the at-large positions held by organizations like the zoo or the county fairgrounds should include more diverse business types, he said. Organizations like the zoo or fairgrounds should have input during funding requests, Jones said, but as non-voting members.

He added that his vote to appoint Bergkamp was nothing personal against Nelson.

"We appreciate deeply the efforts you and other folks at the zoo put in, and I don't want to see that strained. I would hope you would still attend their meetings and offer suggestions and support. Let's see how this looks with somebody outside the tourism industry on the board," Jones said.

Inderlied said she doesn't believe the county's decision will have any effect on working with Nelson or the zoo.

"We have a terrific relationship with Brian. I'm confident this will have no bearing on that," she said.

Bergkamp said she's lived in Garden City her entire life and considers it the best place to live.

"I've been a fan of it for a long time, and I'm so excited about the things going on right now. I would love to be a part of continuing the growth of Finney County," she said.

In other business Monday:

* The commission, acting as the county board of health, named Health Administrator Ashley Goss as the county's official county public health officer, as required by state statute. But the county may consider opting out of another state statute that requires the health officer to conduct sanitary inspections of school grounds and buildings each year before school begins.

Goss said the school's maintenance staff have been performing those duties now. She said most health departments don't employ someone capable of performing that type of inspection.

Counties can adopt resolutions opting out of the requirement. Goss indicated the state may be considering changing the inspection requirement so the county may not need to approve an opt-out resolution. She will report back to the board next month about the issue.

* David Crase, a former Garden City commissioner who is running for a seat on the county commission this year, attended Monday's meeting to ask about the county's code enforcement efforts regarding the deteriorating condition of the old ConAgra Plant, which burned on a Christmas Day 2000 fire, putting about 2,300 people out of work.

"I drove past there yesterday and there's a lot of doors open or kicked in, there's fence down, numerous weeds, graffiti. I know at the city, when you have a complaint-based system, they go out and try to enforce it. I imagine it's the same thing with the county," Crase said.

Commissioner Larry Jones said the county has attempted to communicate with JBS Swift, owner of the property, for a number of years with little success.

"We've written numerous letters to JBS about their plant, the condition of it and the safety of it. And every now and then they'll show up and tidy things up," Jones said.

Crase said it seems like JBS is stringing the county along. He said maybe if the county gets a little tougher about enforcement of code violations, JBS might address the issue, either by cleaning it up or selling the property.

"Those corporations, as soon as they start seeing extra expenses come in, maybe they'll go ahead (and do something about it). If you become a thorn in their side, maybe it'll move them to go ahead and sell," Crase said.

Jones indicated the county would look into the issue.

* Commissioners approved the low bid of $45,282 from Burtis Motors to provide two, three-quarter ton, four-wheel-drive pickups for the sign department and road and bridge section operator.

* John Ellermann, public works director, said he is getting ready to send out letters regarding a new round of the county's dust suppression program.

As part of the program, the county applies a solution of magnesium chloride to stretches of road that helps hold dust and dirt particles to the road's surface.

Last year, the county offered the program to residents willing to pay for the service whose property fronted a county road, and had three county residents sign up for it.

The program costs $2 per linear foot of treated road, which covers the cost of the dust suppressant. Those interested need to fill out an application and agreement for the treatment, pay for the service in advance and mark the desired location. The deadline to apply is May 15.

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