The Marion County Commission Monday voiced support for Commissioner Dan Holub protesting Senate Bill 109, which commissioners contend would effectively stop counties, municipalities, school districts and other such public entities from lobbying the Legislature to make their opinions known.
Holub said the bill would negate the purpose for the existence of such organizations as the Kansas Association of Counties.
The bill would help shield legislators from criticism by counties when authorizing such things as the Keystone Pipeline, which was exempted from 10 years of paying local property taxes, Holub said.
“There is a danger in actually having people in Topeka who think like this,” Holub said.
On another subject, the commissioners also authorized sending a letter written by Holub to ask the Kansas Department of Transportation to help seek funds to assist the county in upgrading nine miles of Remington Road north of U.S. Highway 56 with a 3-inch asphalt overlay to handle increasingly heavy traffic, including busloads of people going to the Father Kaupin memorial in Pilsen.
Holub said the traffic there will continue to increase because Kaupin also has recently been added to the “Wonders of Kansas-People” list, and he also is expected to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor soon for his actions.
Holub said the county has heavily invested in rebuilding Remington, also known as the Pilsen Road, by widening and rebuilding the surface with gravel. But the county is financially unable to continue with a resurfacing that could cost more than $3 million, he said.
Because Marion County doesn’t have the large motels necessary to accommodate substantial groups of tourists, Holub said the county stands to gain very little economically from all the visitors while it is expected to foot high bills.
He showed pictures ranging from farm combines to school buses operating in high dust conditions on the road which, he said, could heighten danger of harsh accidents.
In another road and bridge department topic, Holub and Road and Bridge Director Randy Crawford were asked to consult with Sheriff Rob Craft about the possible arrest of a farmer allegedly knocking down road signs to allow passage of his combine on a county road.
Commissioner Roger Fleming said he wants commissioners to be able “to track the benefits” if Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman is able to secure grants totaling close to $92,000 for equipment to open a Kansas Certified Kitchen at Marion County Lake to mentor entrepreneurs who want to open a food business.
Fleming said he is willing to see the county provide the space if it can be proved that the program benefits the county, and if it doesn’t turn into a situation where the county is required to continually put thousands of dollars into the program to keep it going.
Huffman said she expects the program “to get some businesses going.”
She said some of the grant money would be used to hire a county cooking educator to mentor potential business owners.
Commission Chairman Randy Dallke asked Crawford to have his department use road equipment to remove trees on former residential lots purchased by the county south of the new jail.
Dallke said he wants the lots to come under consideration for construction of a building that might house the health department and planning and zoning plus provide more storage space.
Fleming advised that the county needs to keep planning high for such a need because it someday could lose storage space leased from Cooperative Grain in Hillsboro if the co-op determines it needs it for its own functions.
The commissioners acknowledged the county will probably have to pay a $46,000 consultant fee, most likely from sales tax, for planning upgrades at the courthouse to halt deterioration of the building.
The commissioners approved a road and bridge transport fuel bid of $27,427 for 5,000 gallons of diesel and 3,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline from Cooperative Grain of Hillsboro over a competitive bid of $27,786 from Cardie Oil of Tampa.