County news

The Dickinson County Commission approved an economic development tax abatement Thursday for an Abilene business that builds pneumatic sandblast equipment and other machinery used worldwide.

The abatement was approved for Abrasive Blast located at 418 NE 14th Street. Sam Browning, who is in the process of buying the business, and Chuck Scott, executive director of the Dickinson County Economic Development Corporation, visited with commissioners during a public hearing for the abatement.

The company has been in Abilene for 42 years.

Many people incorrectly believe the company does sand blasting as a service; however, what it does is build sand blasting equipment, Browning explained.

“Most of our stuff is closed circuits, so it’s self-contained,” Browning said, adding many products are used by the military and in “bigger aerospace applications.”

Job growth is part of the abatement criteria, Scott said. When the application was received, the company had 14 employees. Currently they have 15 and are projected to have up to 20 or more.

Browning said one of Abrasive Blast’s goals is expansion through various means.

“We could be doubling our workforce in a reasonably short time,” he said.

Scott said the total capital investment into the project would be $305,000 in buildings and improvement. Although the business has two lots at the same location, the abatement only applies to the west lot.

“I think that on the county side what’s being given up is just short of $16,000. The ratio is $1.92 of return over that 10-year period for every dollar of real estate taxes that we gave up,” Scott said.

Besides job growth, another part of the cost benefit analysis includes the number of people the business brings to town to visit the facility or meet with Browning and staff. Since the company does not have local or Abilene area customers, anyone coming to town likely will be spending the night which helps contribute to the city and county coffers.

“Often when we finish a machine, the company will bring in executives and usually a mix of people that will be using it and the people signing off on it to see it run and approve it. They usually stay a couple of days,” Browning said. “Hopefully, as we grow, that will grow.”

Because Browning is a new owner, a goal of DKEDC is to retain businesses, “particularly when we’ve got transition and succession in ownership,” Scott said. “We want to make sure we keep what we already have and work with them to try to grow.”

Other matters

• County Administrator Brad Homman said preparation for jail construction continues. Sidewalks on the east side of the courthouse were removed along with the outside exercise area used by inmates. A sewer line and AT&T line still needed to be moved.

“The hope is to get some foundation work going and maybe get some walls up on the building before the snow flies,” Homman said. “They (Loyd Builders, project manager) are a couple weeks behind where they want to be, but they’re confident that can make that up in the next few weeks.”

• The commission appointed Teresa Barten as Banner Township clerk to fill a vacancy. Commission Chairman Lynn Peterson said attempts were made to reach out to other people in the township and if anyone is interested in being involved in their particular township, they should let township board members know.

• Homman said it’s time to renew the annual skid steer lease.

“It’s about an $80,000 machine we get to use for $6,500 a year,” Homman said, explaining company representatives bring the new machine and pick up the old one. The company does all the service and maintenance.

• Homman said the county applied for and received a grant from the State of Kansas 911 Coordinating Council to be used for 911 radio equipment. The majority of equipment still being used in the county’s 911 Dispatch Center was purchased and installed in March and April of 2000 so it’s nearly 20 years old and needs to be upgraded. The state will provide more than $90,000 of the grant funding, while the county’s portion will be around $60,000.

Plans are to go ahead and order the equipment so it can be installed soon rather than wait several years until the jail is finished and the courthouse remodel is completed.

“Everyday that goes by with that old equipment we’re pushing the envelope with (equipment) life expectancy,” Homman explained. “Being as it’s mission critical equipment, it’s not something we want to fudge on. But we’re very pleased to say we received that grant award.”

• Homman said the Oct. 14 staff development day was positive, noting the Safety and Wellness Committee changed things a little, adding a session where employees learned what every department does.

“The goal is to make sure employees are informed and educated,” Homman said. “As a county employee we meet people in the public and they just assume you know everything about the county. You may not work for road and bridge but they (the public) want to tell you about their complaint about the road. It helps educate the staff on what the rest of the departments do.”

Contact Kathy Hageman at

Contact Tim Horan at

(1) comment


Here we go...jail already behind...watching this disaster unfold..

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