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Area counties see major construction projects

Published 4/2/2012 in Progress

New hospital, energy projects among regional developments.

By JOSEPH JACKMOVICH

jjackmovich@gctelegram.com

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Laurie Sisk/Telegram An exterior view of the new Scott County Hospital. The $24 million facility is set to open April 9.

Laurie Sisk/Telegram An exterior view of the new Scott County Hospital. The $24 million facility is set to open April 9.

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Laurie Sisk/Telegram Tom Collins, of Intego, works on the wiring for a nurses call station during construction of the new Scott County Hospital.

Laurie Sisk/Telegram Tom Collins, of Intego, works on the wiring for a nurses call station during construction of the new Scott County Hospital.

Counties around the region have some noteworthy projects and construction planned or ongoing, including a new hospital in Scott City.

Scott City's new $24 million hospital is set to open on April 9. The 68,000-square-foot building had an original completion date of May 28, but construction of the facility has been proceeding ahead of schedule. Scott County voters approved the $24 million bond to construct the new hospital in September 2009 by a margin of 52 percent in favor and 48 percent against. Groundbreaking for the hospital was on Aug. 30, 2010.

The new hospital was designed to be as efficient as possible, with Scott County Hospital President and CEO Mark Burnett saying that every effort was made to conserve staff time and improve the patient experience. Even the direction the hospital faces was designed with service in mind, with the southwest face opening to a parking lot that is able to receive more sun and melt snow and ice better than a north-facing lot during the winter months.

The hospital will have 20 acute care beds, two operating rooms, two delivery rooms, 30 exam rooms for resident and out-of-town physicians and four ER patient rooms. The hospital also will provide various rehabilitation and imaging services, a women's care section and an outpatient clinic. There are approximately 200 Scott County Hospital staff, with the core medical team consisting of four family practice physicians, four mid-level caregivers and a surgeon who recently was hired specifically to work at the new facility. Surgeries previously were done by traveling physicians.

Burnett said that the hospital isn't meant to compete with larger facilities in the area, but he intends the facility to be top-of-the-line for the population it serves.

"The colors are right, the design is right, and the architecture is right," Burnett said. "In the segment we provide, we aren't going to be second to anyone."

Wind farm

A proposed wind farm looks to bring additional income to Grant and Haskell counties. The 405-megawatt, $600 million Buffalo Dunes Wind Project, developed by Lenexa-based TradeWind Energy, is expected to generate enough power to serve 120,000 homes at full capacity. As soon as the company establishes a power purchasing agreement to sell the energy the farm will generate, construction on the project will begin.

The company has spent the last three years securing 40,000 acres of land through long-term leases for the placement of 100 to 200 turbines across northeast Grant County and northwest Haskell County. Through agreements with the two counties, TradeWind has agreed to pay $3,750 per megawatt in Payments in Lieu of Taxes, with that amount compounding by 2 percent annually for the next 19 years.

According to county officials, that number could mean $350,000 a year for Grant County and $500,000 for Haskell County in the first year, based on the TradeWind's 210-megawatt first phase.

Finney County stands to benefit from the wind farm, as well, since transmission lines are set to run through the county to attach to the power grid into a substation just south of the Sunflower Electric Corp.'s Holcomb station. Finney County will receive $500 per megawatt, per year, also compounding at 2 percent annually for the next 10 years. According to county commissioners, that translates to an estimated $100,000 for Finney County in the first year.

Hog farm

Greeley County is slated to be the next home of a 144,000 capacity hog farm operated by Shawnee Mission-based Seaboard Foods. The company received a green light for its wastewater permit from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Jan. 4 following a December 2011 public meeting in Tribune to discuss the issue.

Bioenergy plant

In Stevens County, two major projects are ongoing. The first is the Abengoa Bioenergy plant located northwest of Hugoton. The $350 million commercial-scale facility aims to turn crop residue like corn stalks and materials such as switchgrass into biofuel. The plant originally was proposed in 2007 and is slated to produce 23 million gallons a year of ethanol fuel from the plant matter, known as cellulosic ethanol.

The Spain-based company received a $132.4 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2011 to assist in development of the project.

Hugoton City Clerk Tom Hicks said construction was ongoing and that workers currently are moving dirt and building fence around the property.

"It's been a several year process," Hicks said.

The plant is estimated to bring 300 construction workers to the area prior to its estimated late 2013 or early 2014 operation date. After its opening, the plant aims to bring 65 permanent jobs to the area with an annual payroll of $5 million.

Nursing home

The second development is the ongoing construction of the new Pioneer Manor nursing home, 1711 S. Main St., Hugoton. The 88,000-square-foot facility is meant to replace the current facility, which does not meet fire safety codes.

The 83-bed facility will have four "households" of 20 beds that surround a common kitchen, living room and dining room. Three additional rooms are slated for married couples. Every room will have its own private bathroom and shower.

"It's going to be more of a home-like setting," said Pioneer Manor Administrator Rachel Crane. "Breakfast will be made to order in the house, for example."

The facility, slated for a mid to late-April opening, also plans to feature a "Main Street" with storefronts for a post office, beauty salon, coffee shop, chapel and physical therapy. Crane said the idea behind the design was to try to emulate a community inside a facility.

Crane said the new facility will try to maintain current staff levels, about 60 nurses. Certified Nursing Assistants at the new facility will be cross-trained to be able to attend to housekeeping and dietary needs so they can perform more tasks without calling for additional support from other staff.

"It's going to be amazing," Crane said.

Industrial park

Lane County has developed a 63-acre industrial park on Kansas Highway 96 and Industrial Park Road, just west of the Dighton city limits. The park, divided up into two-acre lots and one larger 10-acre lot, has one current tenant, Pro Stim Inc., an oil field service and chemical supplier, and another company on the way. The upcoming company's name has not been disclosed, but local officials said it was in the energy sector.

Economic Development Director for Dighton and Lane County Dan Hartman said the industrial park currently has all the utilities on site and roads completed. He said that planning for the development began in 2007, with construction beginning about a year and a half ago. Construction officially completed on Dec. 31, 2011.

"I believe that because it is developed and because it exists that there are smaller businesses ... that will be attracted to that kind of development," Hartman said.

There are about $300,000 dollars in the project currently, and Hartman said it would be easy to put another $500,000 in, as well. He said that as tenants come in to the development, plans for further development at the site will continue.

To ensure that the lots facing the city entrance are kept orderly, he said that the city will be closely vetting companies wishing to relocate to those particular lots. He said that executive-level people from companies such as British Petroleum have already been in the area scouting for potential new locations.

Hartman said that he originally thought the industrial park was a bad choice for the community because it was expensive. Now, he has mostly changed his mind because the project fills a niche and provides a good opportunity for residents in the area.

"I'm excited about it," Hartman said.

Hartman said that the county is also in the early planning stages for an airport to replace the current Lane County Airport on the northwest side of town. He said that the plan is to have a 4,000- to 5,000-foot runway at the new airport to allow pilots to more easily take off and land, something he said is somewhat tricky at the cramped conditions at the current airport. He said the issue originally was brought up about a year ago.

Other projects

Hamilton County is expecting a new restaurant on its Main Street soon, according to Hamilton County Economic Development Director John Kennedy. The family owned restaurant, named "Porky's," began construction a month ago and will be located on the corner of Kansas Highway 27 and U.S. Highway 50.

Kennedy said the development is significant because it will bring a needed economic boost to the downtown area.

"It cleans up the area and makes the town look more attractive," Kennedy said.

Other developments for Hamilton County include a new bathroom facility and picnic shelter at the Sam's Pond Park. The shelter was donated by the local Rotary Club and was erected at the end of last year, with the bathrooms installed a few weeks ago.

Two new lodging facilities for Hamilton County also opened in the fall of last year, filling what Kennedy said was a need for the county. The Trail City Bed and Breakfast opened in Coolidge and The Loft opened in downtown Syracuse.

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