Grant County Commissioners Meet To Discuss Jail Project With Architects


Grant County Commissioners met with representatives from HMN Architects and Hutton (architecture and building firm) in a special session April 25 to discuss the proposed jail project.

Shawn Harding, HMN Senior Associate, Director of Business Development, had expressed the need to meet with representatives of Hutton and the commissioners regarding the proposed jail facility for Grant County, according to Grant County Commissioner Marty Long.

“One of the things we talked about early on is trying to find some help getting some more accurate estimate numbers, so when we put out any information to the community, and your constituency - especially if we are going to put it on a ballot - that we have a number that is accurate," Harding said,  adding he had reached out to Hutton.

"I reached out to Andy (Fahrmeier) at Hutton and asked him if he would be interested, especially since he has some work experience in Ulysses," Harding said. "He said he would be interested in helping us. I met with Andy and we talked a little bit about projects that I had worked on out here. We exchanged some information on some of the estimating that I had done for the Elkhart project."

Fahrmeier's work in the Ulysses area includes for USD214.

"We have done projects throughout Southwest Kansas, " Fahrmeier said. "I worked for the school district here just last summer, building Maxwell Field House at the football stadium."

Fahrmeier, who said he manages Hutton's Garden City office, said another project of Hutton's was the school bond project at Hugoton. Hutton's Garden City office handles projects for Hutton west of Great Bend.

Harding said Mike King from Hutton had reached out to him regarding the commissioners thoughts on "delivery of the project."

"That is something we need to talk a little more about," Harding said, adding that he had requested Hutton make a presentation for commissioners regarding their experience and "critical path type" projects they had worked on such as hospitals, and law enforcement facilities.

Harding also reminded commissioners that they had previously discussed the possibility of touring other jail facilities.

"There is a facility in Garden City that I think would be a really interesting place for you to go look at," Harding said of a facility he has toured recently. "They have some very interesting systems."

Long said the commissioners would be "very interested" in touring the facility. He provided a recap of what the "commission's intent" is for the proposed jail project.

"Our intentions as commissioners is to run a ballot this November," he explained. "Actually there will be two questions on the ballot. One will be 'would you support a bond of x amount of dollars to build a new jail', and the other one is a sales tax question, 'would you support a one percent county-wide sales tax to be used to pay that bond'."

Long said Grant County has never had a county-wide sales tax implemented.

"We have only had a citywide sale tax - this would be new for us," he said. "Obviously, if that doesn't pass, we would be willing to pay for the bond with a property tax."

Long pointed out, if the bond fails, they will be "forced to go to the building commission."

"(The building commission) has bonding authority and and we will remodel," he said. "That is not our optimum goal. We are afraid it may cost 60 to 70 percent of the cost of a new jail to remodel this existing jail - it’s already 50 plus years old."

Long said commissioners are hoping to host town hall meetings in the future so they can "put out there what their intentions are."

He also noted that a location has been picked out.

"We’ve actually picked a site out north of town by our airport," he said, noting the jail project process was begun in January or 2023. "Our first deadline is that November ballot. We have to have the questions authored and to the Secretary of State by September 1."

Long said they also had to seek Legislative approval for the sales tax and they "already have done that."

"We feel like we are on track (with this project) and we are serious (about it)," Long said.

King from Hutton then introduced himself to the commission and explained a little about what Hutton does.

"Hutton is a 300 person firm with a home office in Wichita," King said. "About half of our people are field people so about 150 are carpenters, laborers, concrete finishers, operators, etc. The other 150 could be superintendents and above project managers, office staff, etc. We also have internal design and have about 20 people in that department. We feel we make a better partner. We feel we make a better partner with HMN Architects."

King said Hutton knows a "little about" architecture and can "come along side with HMN a lot better.

"We think we ask fewer dumb questions that way," he said with a laugh. "And, can keep the process going forward."

King noted they have 42 field superintendents.

"So, in theory, we could have 42 different projects going on at one time," he said. "We have projects that are $100 million in size and projects that are $100,000 in size and every range in between. The $100 million one is right across from the state capitol. We are working on the docking state office building - deconstructing the 12 stories down to the ground level and going back up with three new floors."

King noted he had sold his company to Hutton in 2008.

Watch for more on this special meeting in next week's edition of The Ulysses News.


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