The complaints were based on Jim Whitwell’s plans to open a cafe—under a $50-a-day plus 3 percent of gross receipts lease from the county—in the south kitchen of the Lake Hall. The north kitchen would still be reserved for public use, and Stillwell would cooperate in space for public use under the current agreement.
Commissioner Dan Holub said the “misinformation” he cited came from a headline in the Marion County Record that said the Lake Hall would be closed for public use.
Resident Gordon Pendergraft protested the commissioners shouldn’t lease a public building to a private business, or lease public land for cabins the Whitwells also plan to build.
Holub said it was “perfectly legal.”
“We do it with the county fairgrounds leasing buildings for auctions or other private use,” he said. “Our agreement with the Whitwells is identical to what the Corps of Engineers uses (for marina and cabins at Milford Reservoir.)”
Holub said cities are doing the same kinds of actions when they lease spec buildings they paid for to businesses. According to the county attorney and state attorney general, everything was done correctly, he said.
Pendergraft said Milford Reservoir is a much larger body of water with room for the extras for which Marion County Lake is too small.
Holub and Commissioner Randy Dallke both told the group that profits from the lease agreement would be used to upgrade and insulate the Lake Hall for more use, and to make other improvements at the lake without use of tax funds.
Verlin Biggs asked if the cabins might not be expanded later by taking over part of the trailer park resulting in trailer owners having to leave.
Dallke said if future expansion were ever wanted for the cabins, it would probably go into a nearby bowl-shaped area that has nothing on it.
Holub said people who have criticized the Whitwells for wanting the hall cafe instead of buying Kingfisher’s Restaurant don’t realize that the Whitwells have made more than one bid for the business, but have been turned down.
Commission Chairman Bob Hein and Holub said the cabins can benefit the county as an additional place to stay during events instead of sending overflow crowds to motels outside the county. Marion Reservoir brings an estimated $7.5 million annually to the county, and better use of the County Lake could add to that, they said.
County Appraiser Cindy Magill said tax notices are going out this week with commercial taxes going up because of increased sales, residential taxes remaining stable and agricultural land taxes going down. She explained that ag land prices can go down even when the land sells higher because it is based on production values being down over several previous years.
Holub pointed out that if $10 a bushel prices continue for wheat with good yields, future tax bills could go up.
Among other things on an active training and speaking schedule, Emergency Medical Services Director Steve Smith said he is developing new policy for treatments of suspects who suffer taser and pepper spray injuries when subdued by police officers. Other than stabilizing those who need help, he said such persons might have to be sent to hospitals for liability reasons.
Smith reported 82 ambulance calls for February, 14 from Peabody, four from Florence, 29 from Marion, 29 from Hillsboro and six from Tampa.
The runs included 12 transfers, 14 cardiac, 23 medical emergency, one standby, eight motor vehicle accidents, 11 falls, 12 no transports and one 10-22.
There were 11 first response runs, one from Goessel and four from Lincolnville.
There were three rescue runs from Marion.
Smith said his department was presented $4,000 by the Hillsboro Community Foundation toward purchase of a Rad 57 carbon monoxide level checking device particularly useful for monitoring the conditions of firemen and fire victims after a fire.
The commissioners voted 3-0 to allow county funds for the remaining purchase value of the device.
Steve Hudson, park and lake superintendent, said that Greg Norton of Canton donated 11 “fern pods”—lengths of pvc pipe mounted in buckets—to sink along County Lake docks to provide fish spawning areas. Hudson said the pipe soon gets covered with moss growth to add to spawning protection.
Hudson said the lake will host a fishing derby March 22 at the heated dock with volunteers measuring fish and collecting money. The proceeds will be used for new bench seating inside the dock, he said.
Hudson estimated about $800 will be earned on the project for $3,711 in benching. The commissioners directed him to proceed with the purchase from lake funds.
Holub likened Rollin Schmidt’s report on the increase in price in disposing of a ton of solid waste, from the transfer station from $38 last time to an average $39.74 for February, to “cooking a frog.”
“The increase in price is like raising the water temperature slowly so the frog is cooked before he knows it, us being the frog here,” he said.
Schmidt, director of the transfer station, household hazardous waste and noxious weed, said the price applied on 29 semi-loads averaging 19.93 tons a load hauled to the landfill at Perry last month.
Both he and the commissioners have predicted the price will likely continue upward with rising fuel prices and tipping fees.
To help control costs, Schmidt said he will be looking at the possibility of transferring e-waste (electrical items such as computers and televisions) to a new program starting in Butler County next month. He expects a surge in e-waste with the introduction of digital television.
Holub proposed development of a plan to waive average costs of $40 a ton for commercial and demolition waste when people tear down “derelict homes,” and promise to replace them with new homes within a time limit.
Hein said, “We can take a look at it.”
The commissioner discussed a need to develop recycling more quickly to offset trash costs. By their count, three grocery stores in the county already are baling cardboard for transport, one sends cardboard to the McPherson program and one sends cardboard to the county for handling.
On noxious weed chemical bids, Ag Service was awarded a bid of $35,244 for 12 120-gallon shuttles of 2,4-D amine at $9.25 a gallon, 1,800 gallons of 2,4-D amine in 2×2.5 gallons at $9.75 a gallon, and 360 gallons 2,4-D lo vol in 2×2.5 gallons at $12.15 a gallon. Competitive bidders were Markley Service at $40,140 and the cooperatives at both Hillsboro and Tampa at $40,806 each.
Ag Service was awarded a bid of $14,465.20 for 100 gallons of Tordon 22k at $80 a gallon, 40 gallons of Remedy at $74.13 a gallon, and 100 gallons of Banvel at $35 a gallon. Competitive bidders were Markley Service at $14,560, and the cooperatives at both Hillsboro and Tampa at $15,415 each.
Markley Service was awarded a bid of $2,253.36 for 30 pounds of Spike at $7.95 a pound, 128 ounces of Excort XP at $6.92 an ounce, two gallons of Plateau at $272 a gallon, 48 pounds of Krovar DF at $9.95 a pound, and 10 gallons of Methylated Seed Oil at $10.75 a gallon. Ag Service was the only competitive bidder at $2,253.36.
On eight trailer 285/75/24.5 14-ply trailer tires at the transfer station, Rod’s Tire was awarded a bid of $256.11 a tire for Firestone, 455 tires. A competitive bid on three brands of tires came from Cardie Oil on Delta Brand, Series LM120 at $259.14 each, on Kelly Brand, Armorsteel at $317.34 each, and Dynacargo Brand, ST550 at $248.26 each.
Commissioners said the Firestone was chosen over the Dynacargo because they had no previous experience with the latter brand.
The commissioners told Acting Road and Bridge Director John Summerville they have made no decision on whether they want to accept maintenance on an estimated $300,000 to $400,000 bridge the state built as part of an alternate route on 110th Road by Florence. They did say they wanted to maintain good relations with the state.
Summerville said the bridge offers access to only one house, and is seldom traveled. It will probably last 100 years, he said.
They decided land owners must be responsible for maintenance of field access culverts once the county has installed them, or costs to the county will be prohibitive.
The commissioners told Summerville they definitely want to see some roads chip and sealed surfaced this summer, such as the Roxbury Road and the Ramona Road to Kansas Highway 15, but they also want him to use judgement to make sure road beds are well enough established on others.