City and county use of Heartland Preparedness Center questioned

Heartland Preparedness Center (KSN Photo)

WICHITA, Kansas – An open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday at the Heartland Preparedness Center in northeast Wichita.

The Kansas National Guard’s $24 million center for mobilizing and training.

“It’s a great day for the Kansas National Guard, Sedgwick County, and the City of Wichita,” said Adjutant General Lee Tafanelli.

Even though the city and county put in $3 million to build roads and infrastructure, they are not using it.  Wichita police and Sedgwick County Sheriff’s officers were supposed to train there.

KSN asked the chief of police why?

“Well, we are still working with the county because that is the stumbling block. I know the city has been committed to the facility. It’s just a matter of being able to get the county to move forward,” said Police Chief Norman Williams.

KSN asked county commissioners if their million and half investment in the facility is taxpayer money and if that is now gone.

“Ah, well, yes it is,” said Richard Ranzau, Sedgwick County Commissioner.

Ranzau says the county commissioner made the commitment to the facility before he was on the commission, but he says now the commission is considering going some place else for training.

It is in part because of money.

Ranzau does not like the price tag. He is calling it too much.

“But my biggest concern is going forward, what do we need and how can we get it at the most cost effective manner.”

Meanwhile, the chief of police says he would like to still use the facility in joint operations with the county, but he is not about looking at other facilities as an alternative.

KSN asked if taxpayer money is lost.

“No, I think that was a commitment to get them to location. The county and the city both committed,” said Williams.

Ranzau says the commission has not ruled out, 100 percent, the idea of using the facility, but he wants to see a request for proposal go out for bids to get the price tag down.

For now, the Kansas National Guard is all alone in a facility that was billed as a joint effort between city, county and state.

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