Officials see it as a "win-win" situation for both Harvey County and a local business: a partnership that will meet a need and provide important research data.
At Monday's county commission meeting, John Waltner, county administrator, announced local company AGCO would be giving a brand-new tractor to the county. The county will be helping the agricultural equipment manufacturer (which has a site in Hesston) test the product, and the new tractor will replace the county's previous machine, which unexpectedly broke down and put the county in a financial bind.
"I think it's great," Waltner said of the partnership. "I think it's going to be a really good thing for us. We're grateful to them. It helps both parties. It really does."
The county's road and bridge department will be using the tractor to mow the sides of its approximately 160 miles of paved and 70 miles of unpaved roadways. The roadways have to be mowed several times each summer — a task that can put a lot of wear and tear on a tractor, Waltner said.
The county anticipated its previous machine would last another year, but it unexpectedly broke down, and the county did not have funds budgeted to replace it. The partnership with AGCO provided a solution.
Anthony Swartzendruber, assistant administrator and finance director for the county, said the new AGCO tractor has about the same power level as the current tractor. It is a new model that is going into production.
As the county uses the new tractor, staff will keep a log and provide AGCO engineers with regular feedback about the tractor's performance.
Waltner said AGCO is excited about being able to test the tractor in actual working conditions, rather than just running it on a test track. He hopes the project will turn into a long-term relationship between the county and AGCO.
Commissioner Randy Hague also voiced his support for the partnership.
"That sounds like a no-brainer to me," he said. "I think I'd be willing to go ahead and pursue that and get that started. ... I'm very excited about this program."