County commissioners meet drug dog, ‘Jag’

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BRENDA CONYERS
During Monday’s Marion County commission meeting, Sheriff Deputy Jeff Soyez brought Jag, the new sheriff K9 unit to meet commissioners.


Jag is a 14-month-old Belgian Malinois that has undergone intensive training to recognize marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroine, tar-heroine and mushrooms.


According to Soyez, Jag has been “official” since April 16 and has already been involved in several searches, with three confirmed “hits” or positive detection of illegal drugs.


Sometime last week the deputy and dog were called to Marion High School.


Even though it was a windy day, Jag was able to detect a very small amount of marijuana in an envelope found in the middle of the back seat of a car with the doors and windows closed, Soyez said.


In addition to adding the drug dog, deputies Dean Keyes and Soyez recently attended a five-day Kansas Bureau of Investigators seminar/certification course in Pittsburg to learn how to handle and deal with the dangers of methamphetamine labs.


Because of the possibility of explosions and direct contact with toxic fumes and hazardous chemicals, law enforcement officers who raid suspected meth labs are required to take special hazardous materials handling training.


The two deputies were part of 30 sheriff deputies representing a number of counties throughout the state to receive the specialized training.


The two men are now prepared to handle a meth situation when called upon, Becker said.


Commissioners asked if special suits would be required for their work with a dangerous component of meth-anhydrous ammonia.


Becker said suits would be purchased in the near future, and that research is being at this time to find the suits and prices.


He explained the suits come with various heat ratings and other options, which need to be considered.


The suits will be purchased out of drug funds, and Becker said if needed, he will ask the county attorney whether funds also could be taken from diversion collections and designated for the suits.


Becker reported having a monthly average of eight inmates in the county jail during the month of March.


Commissioners wondered how many inmates could be contained at once, and Becker said 11-and 13 in a “have to” situation.


Becker also reported on the care and condition of horses taken several weeks ago from the Lindgren family west of Marion.


The initial cost of boarding the horses was quoted at $2.40 per head per day. But the horses are now eating “double” what other horses eat, and the cost for boarding has been increased to $3.


A hearing was held regarding the Lindgren case Monday morning, but the county attorney’s office offered no comment on the outcome.


In other business, the county commissioners discussed the $4,200 figure budgeted for continuing education for county appraisal employees.


In the past, the salary for the county appraiser has been shared between Morris and Marion counties, with Marion county paying 60 percent of the total cost.


Morris County has indicated it does not want to continue “sharing” county appraisers and will hire an appraiser independent of Marion County.


Now the Marion County commission will have to pay 100 percent of the appraiser’s salary, of which 40 percent was not budgeted.


Commissioners discussed and questioned whether the classes the employees were taking were to help them do a better and more efficient job or to prepare them for advancement in their career.


According to Carol Maggard, county clerk, there are several levels within the appraiser’s department, including Appraiser I, Appraiser II, and Deputy Appraiser.


“I sure don’t want to stand in the way of someone advancing,” said commissioner chairman Leroy Wetta said. “And I realize well-trained people are very important to a department, but we have to have the money to cover the budget.”


Commissioners decided to give the matter additional consideration and will address the issue at a future meeting.


Wetta reported it was decided at the city mayors/county commissioners meeting that commissioners will meet with officials of the McPherson solid waste facility to get the facts of the program from the “experts.” Wetta said there had been a lot of “hearsay floating about,” and it was important for county and city official to have the facts.


In his report to the commission, David Brazil from the planning and zoning committee, presented the commissioners with an updated copy of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan. He said the committee had asked him to present the report to the commissioners and to ask for their input.


As sanitarian, Brazil gave a copy of a letter from Marty Burke, environmental scientist of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which reported on the recent county waste tire amnesty event.


According to Burke, based on weight average of all tires collected, the county collected approximately 39,436 passenger tire equivalents at a cost of $1.01 per tire to the state- totaling $39,878.30.


Brazil and the commissioners agreed the event was a successful clean-up effort for unused tires.


Because of the current budgeting problems in Topeka, Brazil told commissioners KDHE is considering the phasing out of the Local Emergency Protection Plan by reducing what is given to counties by 20 percent per year, over the next five years.


Earlier in the year, Brazil said Marion County is eligible for $8,700 from the funding. In Monday’s meeting he said in the first year of phase-out the department could cover the costs, but as the percentage cut increased there would have to be a reduction in services or a tax increase to make up the difference.


“In some places where the county relies heavily on the funding, I have seen waste water applications go up in price from $10 to $110,” Brazil said.


Brazil urged commissioners to contact legislatures to ask for support to keep the LEPP program up and running.


— County Engineer Mike Olsen of Kirkham Michael presented the commissioners with a second draft of the Trenching Policy Modifications for their review. He said he hopes to have the finished policy soon.


— The Commission voted to provide labor on the chip and seal section of Quail Creek Road from 360th Street to the south edge of the railroad right-of-way in Ramona, while the city of Ramona will pay for the materials used.


The county also agrees to be responsible for the section they have chipped and sealed and to maintain it at the same standard as the rest of Quail Creek.

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