It seemed to be a day for improvement at the Marion County Commission payday meeting Friday. The old clock tower on the county courthouse is going to get repaired, and an emergency communications tower was finally approved for the new county jail.
Ruth Herbel, representing the Marion Planning Commission, told county commissioners there shouldn’t be a problem with final city approval for a 40-foot single-stem emergency communications tower for the jail, with an antenna that will extend five additional feet. Herbel said the city may have been concerned with a multi-stemmed tower had it been chosen.
To meet city requirements, the commissioners said they had downsized the tower from a previous preference of 92 feet to the shorter tower that will accomplish communications by combining multiple channels into a single one that will be beamed for transmission to a tower west of Marion.
The commissioners credited Sheriff Rob Craft with realizing the shorter tower would work after he climbed to the roof of the jail for a line-of-sight confirmation of clearance.
Commissioners said the shorter tower and configuration is actually about $7,000 more expensive than the taller tower at a cost of $52,384 compared to $45,957.
Commission Chairman Dan Holub said he was “frustrated” that the pole change delayed communications installation by three months with equipment he fears might be “less effective.”
Mark Graber of TBS Electronics in Topeka, contracting company for the galvanized steel tower, said the tower will be anchored in concrete with accompanying electronics inside the jail building.
The commissioners have decided to open new bid-letting once again on shingling the courthouse roof, despite already having two bids with different criteria. The decision came in consultation with a historical adviser because the courthouse is listed on state and national historical registries.
The consultant, Greg Leslie of The Garland Co. in Kansas City, said something must be done in separate repair to enclose and protect the courthouse clock tower, where most water leakage and damage occur.
Leslie said, “You can see daylight out there” looking through holes worn through the clock tower to the outside.
Repairs will require a specialty company to shape wood or iron similar to the ways used 100 years ago, Leslie said, and it should be separate from bidding for shingling of the rest of the courthouse roof.
He said there are also unusual damages in the courthouse attic area, including bullet holes in the wall. County Clerk Carol Maggard confirmed the bullet holes as decades old, possibly from target practice by a former law officer.
Much of the wall area needing repair is simply weathered and worn from a century of standing there, Leslie said.
Commissioner Randy Dallke said he would favor a newer copper colored alloy for the clock roof after Leslie confirmed that real copper would oxidize to green just as it has on the state Capitol in Topeka.
Leslie confirmed Holub’s observation that there doesn’t seem to be a clock “quite like this one” existing anywhere else.
Holub said, “It’s too cool an area to let it go.”
After hearing Leslie’s comments, Commissioner Roger Fleming said he favored beginning bidding all over again for separate segments of the work to make sure it is all done right for posterity. The commissioners voted 3-0 to do so.
Leslie said he expects to be back twice a year to inspect the roof of the new jail, so he will be able to include the courthouse roofing project in his considerations without additional travel.
The commissioners approved a new agreement with Dickinson County presented by Steve Smith, Emergency Medical Services director, and Linda Klenda, interim communications director, regarding accident response.
The agreement states that the nearest ambulance service from either county should respond, even if an accident occurs in the neighboring county.
The agreement was reached after alleged confusion in response to an accident on U.S. Highway 77 near county lines.
Smith said Marion County also needs to formalize such agreements with Butler and Harvey counties, and perhaps review cooperation with Chase County that has Marion response covering the Cedar Point area, but perhaps not as well in areas such as Middle Creek.
He said similar considerations could also be reviewed with Morris and McPherson counties.
The commissioners agreed to accept $150,000 from the Union Pacific Railroad for closure of 190th Road for new railroad siding near Aulne, but said they will ask an additional $100,000 compensation for the additional closure of 180th.
The commissioners extended hours to full time for a nurse, Cindy Reeh, in the health department for this year only to cover responsibilities formerly done by another employee who has resigned.
The commissioners approved a road and bridge bid to finance $169,760 remaining debt on two 4-year-old road graders from Foley Caterpillar Equipment from Cottonwood Valley Bank at 2.74 percent interest for five years over other competitive bid.
The commissioners approved a road and bridge tire bid of $68,404 from Rod’s Tire & Service over competitive bids of $73,613 from Cardie Oil Inc. and $70,559 from TDW.
It split area fuel bids, awarding 2,950 gallons of diesel in areas 1 and 2 for $9,921 to Cardie Oil of Tampa over a competitive bid of $9,956 from Cooperative Grain & Supply of Hillsboro, and for 3,600 gallons of diesel in areas 3 and 4 for $12,132 to CG&S over a competitive bid of $12,250.80 from Cardie.