At the joint city and Ford County commission meeting on Monday, both commissions approved to relocate the Ford County Communications department.

"After the tornados last year we started to look around to see where a better location for our emergency management and communications departments could be," Ford County Communications director Elliot Linke said. "The Heartland Tower facility has recently been renovated by a data company to make it a workable and tech friendly site.

"It is complete with generators, back up storage and is already prepped as a storm shelter."

The current department is located in the basement of the Ford County Government Center in the old Lora Locke Hotel.

Within the last year, the government center had to be closed down after several storms and electrical emergencies.

Because the communications department is a 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week department, according to Ford County officials making a move has been a need for some time.

"We are looking at it like a remodel of the current facility," Linke said. "The county would absorb the cost because the department is under our jurisdiction.

"I personally looked at what it would take to remodel the current Gunsmoke location compared to moving the department and the move would cost much less as well as give us more continuity, which is something we need."

With the approval, the county would be the only tenants of the new facility.

"The current tenants have helped us in remodeling the location," Links said. "We don't have a hard date on when we would be moved in. It will take some time to get in there."

The approval was unanimous.

Absent from the voting was county commissioner Ken Snook and city commissioners Joyce Warshaw and Kent Smoll.

In other business, the city and county unanimously approved inter-local agreements for the communications department.

On the city side, agreements were amended regarding lease agreements for the city to use the console radio systems for police, fire and EMS.

The commissions also approved the user agreements for city to use the radio systems on the county infrastructure.

"We added an automatic renewal of 5 years after the first 5-year contract ends," Linke said. "This will also be in part of increasing the capabilities of the radio systems but in all no major changes have been made from the previous user agreement."

The commissions also approved to name Michael Brakey to the Community Facilities Advisory Board.

Brakey will be replacing Tom Stanley who had previously been on the CFAB board for two terms.

Parks and recreation director Paul Lewis also gave the commissions an end of the year report on the Long Branch Lagoon.

"We projected to see around 60,000 attend the water park and I am happy to report we exceeded that expectation with 80,000," Lewis said. "We looked at the numbers and it is the largest attended facility in southwest Kansas for 2016 coming in better than Kenwood Cove in Salina.

"We feel the night swims worked well for us.

"I know the first night we just put it on Facebook on a Tuesday and didn't expect to see much and when I drove down there, 1,500 people were waiting in line, and that was on a Tuesday.

"So with that we continued the night swims on Tuesday's and Saturday's and we saw about 600 to 800 people per night."