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104

T H E   K A N S A S   L I F E L I N E    



July 2008

by Shane Holthaus

he present trend in

construction costs can be

summed up with three words:

“Higher and Higher!” Increased

costs for steel are impacting a

variety of construction projects,

including the buildings that cities

are developing through the popular

KAN STEP program. KAN STEP

is a self-help program that enables

small communities to make major

infrastructure improvements. Local

residents volunteer labor or services

– termed "sweat equity" – while the

Department of Commerce provides

funding for technical services and

materials. Commerce’s funding

originates with the federal

Community Development Block

Grant (CDBG) program. KAN

STEP provides small communities

an opportunity to invest in projects

they otherwise

could not afford.

Kansas Rural

Water Association

provides

inspection services

and technical

assistance on all

KAN STEP

projects.

As of June 1,

there are 12

projects in

construction or

contracted. The

KAN STEP projects in Hanover

and Hunter are both erecting steel

buildings and are in the middle of

construction. Both of these projects

have beat the escalating price

increases of 2008. 

Hunter gets new community

center

In early 2007, the Kansas

Department of Commerce awarded

the city of Hunter a $296,551 KAN

STEP grant to construct a new

community center. Hunter will

match the funding with $248,530 in

volunteer labor. The total retail cost

is estimated at $545,081. Hunter is

located in southwestern Mitchell

County in north-central Kansas.

This small town has an army of

volunteers that has attacked this

project with a fervor.

The 6,365 square-foot facility is

being constructed in the center of

town north of the elevator and

south of the cafe. The dimensions

are 73 feet x 88 feet. The

community center will include a

library with office, dining

area with a full kitchen,

reception hall with a

kitchenette and an office,

restrooms, storage and

utility room. A record

number of volunteers for a

KAN STEP project

pitched in on March 22

when the second half of

the slab was poured.

There were 32 volunteers

there. Hunter Mayor Bob

Wiles said, “It is sure nice

to see all these volunteers

Top: The framework for the City of Hunter's KAN STEP Community Building was erected in

April 2008. The manufacturer is Star. Structural steel costs have increased 26% from Jan. 1,

2008 to May 15, 2008.

Above: Leonard Moen, one of dozens of volunteers on the Hunter project, fastens the

subframe for the rake angle. Leonard is retired as a former industrial maintenance

supervisor. He and his wife are restoring a home in Hunter.

T

Two KAN STEP projects

beat increased steel costs  

Shane Holthaus

KAN STEP Tech



105

July 2008  T H E   K A N S A S   L I F E L I N E                  

show up and lend a hand. I just hope

we have this many volunteers here

by the time we finish.” 

The project representatives at

Hunter are Bob Wiles, Steve

Schneider and Ken Stewart. Grant

Administration is provided by Lori

Thielen, North Central Planning

Commission, Beloit, Kan. Don

Marrs, DMA Architects, Salina, is

the architect for the project 



Hanover’s multi-purpose project 

The city of Hanover in northeast

Washington County was awarded a

$300,000 KAN STEP Grant to

construct a new multi-purpose

community center. Hanover is

matching the funding with $272,970

in volunteer labor for a total retail

cost of $572,790.

The 9,000 square-foot facility

will include an assembly room,

restrooms and three food service

rooms to be used by different

organizations during community

events and fundraisers. Hanover

started their red iron work on April

22. As of June 5, the volunteers are

hanging tin on the exterior. The

center will have eight overhead

doors and nine walk-in doors. There

will be three serving windows in the

exterior of the building. There will

be an abundance of trim work

involved. Project Representative

Robert Holle and Dennis Minge are

setting a July 4 date to be finished

with the tin on the building.

Project representatives at

Hanover are Robert Holle and

Dennis Minge. Deb Olde, North

Central Kansas Planning, is

providing Grant Administration.

Architect is Don Marrs, DMA

Architects, Salina.

Sparkplug Robert Holle said, "It's

great on a Saturday morning to have

31 volunteers to show up for work

and 60% being younger men from

the community – that's just makes me

proud to be from a rural community.

We feel fortunate to have such a wide

range of talent and that is what is

making this project successful."

The weather has been a major

problem since late last year for

everyone. Both Hanover and

Hunter's steel buildings were shipped

in December 2007 in both groups’

anticipation of beginning their

projects. Concrete slabs however



Above: Another beam is lifted to be bolted to the main

columns on the Hunter project on April 15, 2008.

Right: Volunteers attach and cut openings in the exterior

metal for windows on the east side of the Hunter

Community Building.

Increased cost of materials

makes money more expensive 

ccording to the United States Mint it costs in the

neighborhood of 1.7 cents to make a penny and 7.7 cents to

make a nickel. In 2007, the Mint produced 7.4 billion pennies and

1.2 billion nickels, according to the House Financial Services

Committee.

Other coins still cost less than their face value, according to

the Mint. The dime costs a little over 4 cents to make, while the

quarter costs almost 10 cents. The dollar coin, meanwhile, costs

about 16 cents to make, according to the Mint. 

A

A



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T H E   K A N S A S   L I F E L I N E    



July 2008

Two KAN STEP projects . . .

were not poured in December due

to the ice storm that hit most of

Kansas. Cold and wet conditions

continue through February and into

March, further hindering progress.

The last floor pour was made on

March 22 at Hanover. Hunter

started red iron work on April 15.

Between rains work has progressed

and tin work has been started on the

buildings. 



Steel costs

Norman Elliot with J & N Elliot

Construction, Morrowville, Kan., is

the supplier for both of these

projects. Elliot explained,

“Structural steel costs have gone up

26% since January of 2008 for the

Star brand of building.” 

I am aware that rebar has

increased by 32%. Anyone

purchasing steel buildings or rebar

can expect price adjustments every

two weeks. 

The increases in the cost of steel

began in 2000. BNET Business

Services reports that China's

demand for scrap metal to feed its

booming manufacturing industry

has driven the price from $120 a

ton in the summer of 2007 to $255

a ton by mid-February 2008. In

2001, the United States exported

7.44 million metric tons of scrap. In

2003 it exported 12 million metric

tons, with China buying 3.3 million

metric tons. China's demand for

scrap iron increased 22 percent in

2003 and 13 percent in 2004.

Recycled metal has helped keep the

prices down but the demand from

China is inflationary on world

markets.


KAN STEP is a unique

program. I encourage communities

that are interested to contact the

Kansas Department of Commerce

for more information.

Volunteers prepare to attach the eave girt on the north wall of KAN STEP project at

Hanover. The building will have a multi-purpose use including Days of 49, local auctions,

4th of July celebrations, weddings and other community events.

A L E X A N D E R



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107

July 2008  T H E   K A N S A S   L I F E L I N E                  



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