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The Rundown – Rod Kreie selected as new City Commissioner

Post Date:05/23/2018

The Rundown is prepared by the City of Newton Public Information Office to summarize the City Commission meeting and does not represent official Commission minutes.

7 p.m. May 22, 2018, Newton City Commission meeting

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the City Commission selected local businessman Rod Kreie to fill the unexpired term of Commissioner David Nygaard, who died unexpectedly in April.

Kreie is a retired Certified Public Accountant and serves as chief operating member of Great Plains Biosciences Group. He is a past president of the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce and once served as a Ulysses City Councilman and chairman of Grant County Economic Development.

Kreie will be sworn in at the June 12 City Commission meeting. His seat will be up for re-election in November 2019, with the term ending in January 2020.

ABI Chemicals

The Commission approved the transfer of ABI Chemicals’ lease of facilities at the Newton City/County Airport to Kansas Chemical Coatings LLC.

ABI has leased a 20,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and 5,000-square-foot hangar from the City since late 2014. The City financed construction of the $5.24 million facility and intended to recover all debt service costs via the lease payments. ABI reserved one year’s worth of lease payments in escrow. The startup company’s business, however, failed to get off the ground, and after the escrow account was depleted, the City began covering the costs. The City has paid about $500,000 in loan payments over the past two years, plus about $35,000 in insurance and utility costs.

The building has remained largely idle since ABI Chemicals ran into financial difficulties late last year. A group of ABI investors have now restructured and recapitalized the business and are aggressively pursuing new contracts as Kansas Chemical Coatings.

The company continues to work with Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) to develop and produce high-tech coatings for aerospace and other manufacturing. The research and development work has progressed, and the company has already completed some product sales.

As part of the agreement, the City Commission agreed to lower the monthly lease payment to $35,000, rather than the full $50,000, to free up working capital as the company ramps up production, with the payment to increase to the full amount as soon as it is feasible. The City will make up the difference, which will be added to the $500,000 in outstanding rental obligations. Kansas Chemical Coatings committed to repay the City in full as its future cash flow permits.

The Harvey County Commission will consider the lease agreement at their meeting next week.

Community recognition

The City Commission honored Newton High School Career and Technical Education students who were named 2018 Kansas CTE Scholars by the Kansas Department of Education. Of the 58 CTE Scholars named in Kansas, 12 are from the Newton CTE program, the most of any school in the state.

The Commission also recognized Newton Police Cpl. Levi Minkevitch and Cpl. Tony Hawpe, who recently received Gold Awards of Valor from the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police related to their actions after a triple homicide in February 2017.

In other action, the City Commission:

  1. Approved a special event request for First Bank to use Military Park on June 22 for Customer Appreciation Day.
  2. Approved a special event request from Carriage Factory Gallery for the use of picnic tables and trash carts on June 23 for an artist studio tour.
  3. Appointed David Simmons and Ashley Klein to the Library Board and Dan Harder to the Planning Commission.
  4. Approved a lease addendum with Ballard Aviation, allowing the company to use its hangar facility and the underlying leasehold as collateral for a commercial loan. Ballard has been a tenant at Newton City/County Airport since 2009.
  5. Authorized amendments to condominium declarations and association bylaws for Newton Surgery Center, which the City holds title to in relation to industrial revenue bonds issued in 2007 for the facility’s construction.

For more information, please contact Director of Communications Erin McDaniel at 284-6055 or