Sand Creek Station joins an elite group of golf courses from around the United States as one of the finalists for the National Golf Course Owners Association’s 2013 "course of the year" award.

“We are one of four finalists in the entire United States,” said Sand Creek Station’s general manager Chris Tuohey when he made the announcement at Tuesday’s Newton City Commission meeting. “... We are representing the entire Midwest as a finalist.”

Tuohey said the award is based on a variety of factors, including the quality of a golf course and customer service. He said Newton was up against some stiff competition — there are about 7,200 courses represented by the National Golf Course Owners Association.

“It was a very competitive process on how Sand Creek Station was selected,” he said.

The other finalists are the Oak Quarry Golf Club in Riverside, Calif., the Redstone Golf Club - Tournament Course in Humble, Texas, and the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Tuohey said the Oak Quarry course cost $50 million to build; the Redstone course hosts the Shell Houston Open, a regular golf tournament on the PGA Tour; and the Trump National Golf Club is owned by famous entrepreneur Donald Trump.

“Our property in Newton, Kansas, was selected to go up against these types of facilities,” Tuohey said. “... I can’t begin to tell you how really honored I am to represent the golf course, to represent Kemper Sports and to represent this community.”

The winner of the national course of the year award will be announced at the National Golf Course Owners Association’s 2013 annual conference in February in San Diego.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Newton Fire/EMS department also received recognition for an article and photos about the department that appeared in the Winter 2012 issue of the KEMSA Chronicle for the Kansas Emergency Medical Services Association.

Other business

Newton city commissioners also conducted a work session Tuesday evening and heard an update from Police Chief Jim Daily about issues with the police department’s current facilities.

Daily said the building — which the police department shares with the Harvey County Sheriff’s Office — dates back to the 1970s , and the department’s approximately 9,500 square feet of space is beginning to grow crowded.

Sometimes equipment has to be stored on the floor because of a lack of space, and employees often have to work in cramped areas. The department also needs more space for secure storage of evidence.

Due to limited record storage space, the department has spent close to $4,000 over the past two years for storing records at the salt mines in Hutchinson. The department is charged transaction fees for retrievals, re-files and copies requested for background checks.

A proposal to add a second floor to the current law enforcement building seems to have stalled, Daily said, but he believes something will have to be done in the future.

“It’s important again for us to consider where we want to be in the future,” he said. “We all know that the community is growing. ... With that comes the growth of the police department.”

Although another option could be to construct a brand new building at a separate site, Daily said prices keep increasing and it is difficult to predict the final cost of the project.

The second floor option would add approximately 10,000 square footage of space and would enable the police department to continue working closely with the sheriff’s office.

“Either way we go, it’s imperative that we put this in our forethought because it’s not getting any better,” Daily said.