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Government

County Commissioners Vote To Demolish Judge Riddel Boys Ranch

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Sedgwick County commissioners voted Wednesday to tear down the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch west of Wichita, ending years of discussions about how to save the piece of Kansas history.

Commissioners were split on whether to demolish the ranch, which was built in the 1960s and closed in 2014 due to lack of state funding.

Jim Howell and Richard Ranzau opposed the decision. Howell called it “premature.”

“To me it’s just a sad ending to a tremendous piece of our history," he said. "I don’t think we’ve run the course. We’ve not hit the brick wall. We’ve not hit the end.”

The ranch was used as a residential youth center for troubled boys. The county has tried to find a new owner for the center for the past three years—and in that time, the ranch has fallen into disrepair.

“There’s been a lot of effort, consternation, thought, different iterations, ideas," said Commission Chairman Dave Unruh. "And it seems like we’re at the point now this decision needs to be made.”

The county approved contracts to remove asbestos and to tear down the facility. The property will be returned as park land for nearby Lake Afton Park.

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