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Company dodges county over boat dock

Kechi firm with lapsed business standing ghosts county officials after offering excuses about progress

Staff writer

Is the county covered fishing dock becoming the one that got away?

The owner of Ben’s Boat Docks in Kechi, who lost his business entity standing with the Secretary of State’s office in 2003, is postponing contact with county officials trying to find out why a heated, covered fishing dock he was hired in December to build is nowhere to be seen.

Ben Baxter registered his business with the state in February 1999 and filed annual reports in 1999, 2000, and 2001. His business entity listing was forfeited in July 2003 for failure to file annual reports.

The most recent contact from Baxter was a text sent to county commissioner David Crofoot Monday.

The text said Baxter could meet with Crofoot and lake superintendent Isaac Hett sometime next week.

The text followed a month of delays, with Baxter saying he was in Oregon for a family emergency, then in California where he was unable to get a flight back to Kansas.

Hett called Baxter Sept. 1 to say he and Crofoot wanted to come inspect progress on the dock.

“He told me he would be back in two weeks and would give me a call when he got back,” Hett said.

Hett texted and left voice messages after Baxter failed to get back to him.

“He called me back Sept. 21 and told me he was stuck in California, but he would be back,” Hett said. “I’ve made my frustrations pretty clear to him. I haven’t gotten nasty and I’m not going to get nasty, but he doesn’t understand how important the project is to me and everyone else. I have people asking me about it every day.”

Crofoot has not had any luck getting answers from Baxter, either.

The county paid a $101,950 down payment 10 months ago for a new covered fishing dock to replace one destroyed in a July 4, 2019, storm. Baxter said in May he expected to have the dock finished by July.

Baxter’s bid, accepted by commissioners in December, was $203,900. The county’s insurance company agreed to pay $177,020 of the cost.

The old dock still floats on the water in shambles, its walkway closed off with fencing to prevent anyone from entering it. A sign reads, “Park and Lake heated dock is closed to all.”

Earlier this year Baxter blamed the delay on supply shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He said floatation devices were not being made.

Three flotation device manufacturers contacted by the Marion County Record all said they continue to manufacture the devices.

Last modified Oct. 7, 2020

 

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