In the meantime, Sheriff Lee Becker told commissioners and Law Kingdon representatives he is in conversation with the Kansas State Fire Marshal about how he will deal with inadequacies of the county’s 1930s-era jail.
Becker said the issues range from having someone with a key present to release inmates within five minutes of discovery of fire at any time of day, to what to do with air passages opened up in the walls when plaster and lathe were removed for air-conditioning ducts.
Beckers said dispatchers, who are always in the building, aren’t adquately trained or armed to deal with potentially dangerous inmates if doors are opened for fire.
Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said that up until now the commission has dealt with Dan Hall of BG Consultants in Manhattan about making plans for a new jail and judicial center.
But, he said, it was decided to take a look at what Law Kingdon could do when it was discovered the 122-bed facility the company had designed for Sumner County was built for $10 million—roughly the price Marion County had thought it must spend for 42 beds.
Dallke and Commissioner Dan Holub said Marion County can’t afford $10 million, but they want an affordable facility that can help pay for itself by taking prisoners from other governmental units outside the county.
Martin A. “Tony” Rangel, a second Law Kingdon architect, said Sumner County has a population of 26,000, roughly double that of Marion County.
Dennis Smith, architect with Law Kingdon, said the company is licensed in all 50 states, and has planned completed projects in 45 of them. He said the company does shopping centers and other big projects as well as corrections centers.
Becker and Holub said the Sumner County facility is well designed, but isn’t a “plush” facility.
Dallke said that’s good because “we aren’t wanting a plush motel, we’re wanting a jail.”
Holub said 72 beds has always been the number of prisoners he and the other commissioners have figured they needed to have the corrections center pay for itself. It would still require a bond election passed to begin building.
Dallke said the commissioners want a well planned and studied project that voters can see is needed.
“We want to do it right,” he said.
Commissioner Bob Hein said he favored taking a look at what Law Kingdon could do, but he had to leave the meeting early.
Rangel said the commissioners should choose a group of volunteer citizens from across the county to lead the planning for a corrections center.
The commissioners asked County Clerk Carol Maggard to pursue lighting flag poles on the courthouse grounds, and putting up fixtures to light the general grounds more fully.
County Appraiser Cindy Magill said results of valuation appeals will be sent out by May 11.
Rollin Schmidt, household hazardous waste, noxious weed and transfer station director, said the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has approved plans for a fence around the transfer station that leaves access for the City of Marion to electrical equipment.
The commissioners signed and approved a five-year solid-waste plan due with the state April 30.
Hein said Harvey County is working on its solid-waste incinerator that will generate electricity, and require 120 tons of solid waste daily to burn.
The commissioners said it would be great if the Harvey County unit needed waste to burn badly enough to save Marion County transportation costs of garbage going to Topeka.
Cardie Oil of Tampa was awarded a road and bridge transport fuel bid for $19,046 compared to a Cooperative Grain & Supply of Hillsboro bid for $19,132. The bid included 5,500 gallons of diesel fuel and 2,500 gallons of unleaded gasoline.
The commissioners signed an emergency center access agreement with Reno County Community College brought to them by Communications and Emergency Management Director Michele Abbott-Becker.
The commissioners reapproved a county resolution that defines desired wind speeds for agricultural burning at no less than 5 mph and no more than 20 mph.