Riley County Commission Views Plans for Possible Welcome Center

Riley-County-Commission-office1With the addition of the Flint Hills Discovery Center in the spring, the opportunities to learn about the hills are endless.  The only problem that still remains is how to get people to the center.

During Monday’s Riley County Commission Meeting, Facilitator for the Flint Hills Regional Core Committee, Karen Hibbard shared plans, outlines and research done on the possibility of adding a Flint Hills Regional Welcome Center to the area.  The first step in the project was researching where the facility should be located.  Six different sites, including K-18 and Maple Hill, were discussed.  After researching each site individually, it was found that 177 would be the best location due to the amount of traffic and the efficient location.  The facility would sit on a 7.3 acre area that is currently owned by the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce.

Hibbard mentioned, “this welcome center is not a place that we invision people spending a lot of time in this area.  When people stop at a rest area, it’s for two reasons-to get gas and to use the restroom.  We want to have this center be a place where they can gather information and not change their immediate plans, but rather make plans to return later”.

Some of the amenities included in the outline and floor plans were-a walking trail, a tower to view the hills, a gas station, restrooms, a gift shop and various kiosks with information.  This project would cost an estimated $9 million.

County Commissioner, Karen McCulloh recommended including K-State into this project by saying, “maybe this would be a good way to inform people about the university and get more people to come to K-State”.

Hibbard said the committee did not want the county to fund the project, she simply requested that the commission stand behind the project and support it.  The commission decided to review the support letter brought forward by Hibbard and make a decision on whether to sign it or not on Thursday.

Human Resource Manager, Cindy Volanti received a special recognition during the meeting from the IPMA (International Public Management Associations for Human Resources).  County Clerk, Rich Vargo presented Volanti with the certificate for becoming a Certified Association Specialist.  One of the purposes of the certification is to encourage continuation of education.  To receive the certification, you must complete a report and achieve 50 points every three years.

The commission also heard updates from various department heads inlcuding- Public Works Director, Leon Hobson, aTa Bus Director, Anne Smith and County Attorney, Barry Wilkerson.