Commissioners greet visitors from Berlin, Germany

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BRENDA CONYERS
Ten students from Berlin, Germany, were on hand at the Marion County Commission meeting Monday morning.


The students, ranging in age from 15-20, were visiting the United States as part of a youth program financed by the parents of the students and the German government.


The program has been in Marion since 1985. Peggy Blackman, Marion, has been a strong advocate for bringing students to the county.


Several students said this was their second trip to Marion.


The students arrived early last week and will leave for New York City April 23.


The leader said the group would be comparing American rural life to American urban life.


In other business, David Brazil, county sanitarian, has scheduled for commissioners a tour of the McPherson and Harvey County solid waste utilities and recycling plant for 2 p.m., Monday, May 14.


Brazil, part of the county’s Planning and Zoning Board, also reported the Comprehensive Land Use work session went well with some discussion regarding extra-territorial jurisdiction.


Commissioner Bob Hein said the commissioners and county mayors will meet Tuesday night in Hillsboro and the topic of jurisdiction is already on the agenda.


Brazil told the commission that he had contacted the Girl Scouts regarding the storage shed they want to build at Marion County Lake.


“I realize it may seem silly to have the county get a permit,” Brazil said, “but we need to go through the process like everyone else.”


Brazil said the Scouts had applied for the building and the fees had been waived.


The group is waiting for a survey requested by the improvement boards before moving ahead with the projects.


Mike Wederski, director for Community Corrections, reported the Department of Corrections had completed an audit for adult care. Two areas required attention: a specialized program for sex offenders, and gender-specific programs for female clients.


According to Wederski, the four-county district has a large percentage of sex offenders, with about “15 to 20 per any given caseload.”


Wederski said the offenders are “great clients” who go right through the program, but often complete the program “just to get by” and become repeat offenders once they leave.


A program has been developed and state grant money has been applied for. Wederski said the Department of Corrections should know by July whether the program will be awarded the grant money.


He said they have asked for a grant of $112,000 to hire two full-time employees.


“They will work closely together, and will work 40 hours per week,” he said. “But it will be the hours of their choosing. We want it to be flexible and not to have a set routine with this particular set of clients.


“If this goes through,” he added, “this could be one of the cutting-edge programs.”


Wederski said if the program works as planned, other districts may use the program as a model for their own.


He also said the four counties have an “extraordinary amount of female offenders,” and gender-specific programs are being developed to address domestic violence and self-esteem issues for the women.


With state funding cuts, Wederski said clients had not yet been charged for services offered, but that might become an option in the future.


Warren Kreutziger and Kent Becker of the Marion Lake Association came before the commission to ask the county to purchase a membership to help fund projects the group is hoping to accomplish.


According to Becker, the association is one year old, and has already held a fishing tournament. A second tournament was canceled because of bad weather.


Kreutziger said the Marion County Economic Development Board had requested the formation of such a group to promote the reservoir.


The men originally had hoped to include both lakes, but Dale Snelling, Marion County Lake superintendent, already belongs to the South Central Kansas Lake Association.


“We have a nice working relationship with the Corps of Engineers,” Kreutziger said. “They appreciate whatever we can do together.”


Becker said initial research revealed funds were available from the Department of Kansas Wildlife and Parks to improve the reservoir area. The group plans to set more definite goals and apply for the funding.


The commission agreed to support the group by buying a $100 corporate membership.

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