September 10, 2008

Officials Approve $780,000 in Dam Repairs

By James Carlson

By James Carlson


State officials received approval Tuesday to use $780,000 out of the wildlife fee fund to repair a deteriorating dam at Shawnee State Fishing Lake northwest of Topeka.

The State Finance Council approved the expenditure during a brief afternoon meeting.

"Right now it's not a threat to public safety, but we don't want it to become one," said Mike Hayden, secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. "We want it to be there for another 40 to 50 years."

The secretary told the council the dam wasn't built to modern standards and that temporary repairs in the past weren't sufficient. Crews will take dirt out of the spillway and shore up the back side, which is "in need of substantial repairs," Hayden said.

Expenditures from the wildlife fee fund are usually capped around $20 million. Drawing more out of the pool of money requires approval from the finance council, which is composed of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and legislative leaders from both parties.

Norman Davis, special projects engineer for KDWP, said plans are already drawn up for the construction project, and it should be completed in four to six months.

Also Tuesday, the council approved the issuance of $33 million in bonds for Cessna Aircraft Co. The Legislature passed a bill this year allowing for the bonds but required the Kansas Department of Commerce and the airplane manufacturer to first reach a deal. Commerce Secretary Dave Kerr and Cessna chief executive officer Jack Pelton signed an agreement that commits Cessna to a $776 million investment.

Cessna plans to expand its Wichita manufacturing plants to produce the new Citation Columbus jet, a project that will produce 1,000 jobs paying at least $73,000.

The bonds are to be paid back over seven years, though the agreement stipulates a backloaded repayment plan. Ten percent of the bonds will be paid back each year for the first four years, then 20 percent for each of the remaining three years.

That is meant to lessen the impact on the state, which is facing a tight fiscal future.

"Let's go build some airplanes," Sebelius said following the council's action.

James Carlson can be reached

at (785) 233-7470

or [email protected]

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