Participation key for hospital update, dairy hearing
Discussion on two important issues affecting the future of Imperial and Chase County demands input from citizens over the next few days.
Tonight (Thursday), administration and board members of the Chase County Community Hospital will hold an informational meeting on the ongoing planning underway to build a new hospital for Chase County.
There’s no question Chase County needs a new hospital to carry health care forward across several more generations, from ourselves to our kids and their kids.
The time has come to make a crucial investment in the future of our county and its citizens.
At the general election in November, Chase County voters will be asked to approve a bond issue for a new hospital. Later this summer, we will learn just exactly how much a new hospital will cost.
The hospital board is spending $1.5 million in pre-construction costs to complete the design of a new facility and obtain a firm cost not to exceed “X” dollars. If the bond is approved, those dollars will apply to the building project.
The board wanted to have firm costs before beginning to hold town hall meetings to inform the public about the project.
However, Hospital Administrator Steve Lewis said they have been approached by a number of people with questions about the project so they decided it was time to begin meetings.
He said they will be able to provide an estimate of how the project would affect property taxes.
Meetings planned in Imperial and Wauneta should also help dispel some of the misinformation and rumors that always go along with a project like this.
More meetings will follow once the design and cost figures are locked down. Regardless of which side of the project you are on, you owe it to yourself and your county to attend these meetings and then make an informed decision come November.
Shifting gears, another key public hearing on a proposed organic dairy northwest of Imperial will be held Tuesday. This hearing will be conducted by the county commissioners, who will ultimately decide whether or not to approve a conditional use permit for the facility.
The county planning commission voted in March that the application falls within the parameters of the conditional use permit rules in the county zoning code.
Their recommendation for approval was forwarded to the commissioners, who must conduct another public hearing before determining the fate of the permit and project.
People who want to voice opposition or support for the permit have one more opportunity to do so at next week’s hearing.
The proposed project has generated a lot of emotions. Perhaps the biggest concerns come from neighbors of the proposed dairy who fear odors, fly infestation and increased traffic will affect their quality of life.
The dairy will not provide a market for much of the corn and hay grown in Chase County because it is not organically certified. It does create a future opportunity for local farmers to grow organic crops but it takes three years to convert ground to organic status.
These are all valid concerns.
By the same token, Chase County’s economy revolves around crop and livestock production. That’s who we are.
People will get one more opportunity Tuesday to voice their opinions on the record to commissioners. Take advantage of it, regardless of whether you feel your input matters or not.