By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
EDITOR’S NOTE: All eight candidates for the city commission will be interviewed and asked the same questions in order that voters can better learn who these candidates are and what they believe the commission can or should accomplish.
Improvements have been and are continuing to be made all over Liberal, according to city commissioner Larry Koochel, and he wants that progress to continue.
The incumbent is one of eight candidates running for three seats on the commission, and he pointed to some projects within recent years as signs of that progress.
“We’ve got Light Park that we were working on,” Koochel said. “We’re getting ready for the Sampler Festival, and I’m on that committee. We want to host that to show the rest of the state what Liberal has to offer.”
There are also some future ventures the city plans to undertake. These include soccer fields on Liberal’s south side and some street work.
“We just have a number of projects lined up, and still one of my top priorities is I want to get Main Street looking nice,” Koochel said. “I want the buildings the colors they’re supposed to be. I’d like to see businesses in these buildings to make downtown pretty. At night, with the new lights and sidewalks that we’ve got, Liberal is as pretty of a town as there is. We have a little work to do yet.”
Cleaning up Liberal has been a constant priority for Koochel.
“I’ve always said we need to clean the town up, and finally, it’s coming together,” he said. “City staff has put together a good program, and we’re just starting to put some teeth into it, and we want to make Liberal a clean looking progressive community.”
Koochel said Liberal has many things going for it. He believes he has been fortunate to be on the ground floor with starting projects, and he would like to see those pieces of the puzzle come to fruition, particularly in the downtown area of the community.
“The clean up project’s going to be good,” he said. “I’d like to be involved with that. I can say I want to do this or I want to do that, but it’s not just a Larry commission. It’s teamwork with the other four. We have to work together to make this happen, and things have been working out pretty good for us.”
Many of these projects were made possible with the help of the city’s 1-cent sales tax, something Koochel said Liberal is fortunate to have.
“I was really proud of the community when they stepped up and voted again for it,” he said. “It passed by 82 percent, and I think that shows the community is satisfied with the way the commissioners are spending the 1-cent sales tax. Just keep progressing.”
One of those projects is Adventure Bay Water Park, and Koochel said many people have taken notice of the swimming pool.
“I talk to people who pass through here that are from out of town who say the swimming pool is wonderful,” he said
Other projects include Light Park, Western Avenue and an improvements made for one of Liberal’s biggest events.
“The Pancake Race is coming up, and the Pancake route is lined with bricks,” Koochel said. “That was 1-cent sales tax.”
Other renovations the city has had include sidewalks which run north to Tucker Road. Koochel said those have been useful for many in the community.
“It serves a need for students who walk or ride bicycles to the college or someone wants to go to Wal-Mart,” he said. “The city has planted trees along there. We’ve got a watering system in. That’s going to be a wonderful entrance to the City of Liberal. There’s a number of projects, and I’d just like to be part of making Liberal a nicer place to live and something that we can all be real proud of.”