ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
The Marion County Commission Monday approved a resolution for setting vehicle weights on roads and a contract to spray weeds at Marion Reservoir.
The commissioners delayed further discussion on developing new camping sites at the Marion County Lake until they could meet with the lake board.
They also heard a report on South-Central Kansas Development funds that may make $90,000 in loans available to businesses with low-to moderate-income employees.
David Brazil, county planning, zoning and sanitarian director, told commissioners that public planning hearing scheduled for Oct. 20 needs to be cancelled and then reannounced because of an error in publishing that listed it for Oct. 30. Brazil said it probably still will be about Oct. 20.
Dale Snelling, park director at the county lake, estimated that as many as 2,000 cars, give or take 500, were parked around the lake Labor Day weekend loaded with people to watch the county’s fireworks display.
Commissioners Leroy Wetta, Bob Hein and Howard Collett, as well as Snelling, all said they still are receiving calls of support for the success of the display, and for coordinating it with the celebration in Florence. Snelling said technicians from Peabody are owed special thanks for setting up the display.
Snelling reported camping fees received on Labor weekend totalled $2,511 compared to $2,183 last year, but were much lower than the more than $4,000 reported in other years when receipts for trailer lot rents may have been included with them.
Snelling said the lake has 30 camp sites with electric hookups, and he is seeking advice on dirt work to install another 30 sites at Pier Point west of Kingfisher Point where a level shore gives good access to the water.
Wetta questioned whether the plan would pay off in higher camper occupancy when even on a holiday like Labor Day the occupancy on the current 30 sites was only 23.
Snelling explained that organized camping groups usually call ahead to book a large number of sites such as this, and then other campers are reluctant to pull in next to them. He believed increasing the number of sites would lead to more bookings ahead because he has had to turn away groups with as many as 50 campers.
He added that sites like Pier Point tend to waste space with only three or four camping sites because once they are occupied other people tend to avoid them.
Collett questioned whether developing recreation for predominantly out-of-county residents was paying dividends for Marion County residents.
Snelling replied that campers tell him of which restaurants they went to, or such things as antique stores and other places they shopped at, so he believes they are bringing a great deal of money into the county.
Wetta said he doesn’t want to see the beauty of the environment at the lake or the feeling of access to it by county residents for activities such as fishing hampered.
Collett noted that when he is at Cottonwood Point at the Reservoir he gets the feeling that it is like a private place for campers, “and I don’t want people coming to the lake to feel that way.”
Hein suggested that the commissioners rely on the judgement of people they appoint to the lake board for further discussion.
Bill Smithhart, noxious weed director, said he had been requested by the Corps of Engineers at Marion Reservoir to spot spray herbicide under contract for a $600 fee on reservoir land with control of sericea lespedeza primarily in mind because of the rapid spread of the weed. He said the request was made because the reservoir sprayer is in need of repair during the opportune time to spray.
Smithhart said he would be able to tell how many acres were sprayed by the amount of spray used, but he thought the job might include as many as 80 to 100 acres.
Wetta said he hated to see county equipment “be beaten to death” hauling it over a couple of sections to do a limited acreage of spraying.
Hein noted that quick action is needed to contain the weed, and the other two commissioners concurred in approving the contract.
Gerald Kelsey, county road and bridge supervisor, said he had received a bid of $35,700 from Kraus Welding for installation of a bridge a half-mile south of U.S. Highway 50 on Nighthawk.
The commissioners approved accepting the bridge bid, 3-0.
The commissioners, Kelsey and Sheriff Lee Becker discussed setting road-use routes and policies to preserve county roads from deterioration due to heavy semi-truck use, especially overweight truck use.
They noted that discussions have been held with grain cooperatives on routes to use to take maximum advantage of heavier constructed state and federal highways.
Becker said he felt the best way to approach the problem is to get a law on the books, then signage in place followed by enforcement.
Wetta wondered about the economics of enforcement with the county spending money for it and the fines sent on to the state.
But Collett pointed out that “if 10 guys are fined even $1,000 each, that’s only $10,000, and that road is worth much more than that to us.”
The commissioners discussed state routing of rock trucks, and noted that trucks that haul items such as grain and livestock must be given access to points on county roads where goods are picked up.
They passed a resolution, 3-0, excluding where routes enter city limits, prohibiting vehicles weighing more than 65,000 pounds from operating on 30th between Limestone and Old Mill, 40th between Timber and US-77, 60th between Limestone and Timber, 90th between Meridian and Chisolm Trail, 120th between Meridian and Indigo, 140th between Pawnee and US-77, 150th between K-15 and Indigo, 170th between Lakeshore Dr. and US-77, 190th between Goldenrod and Remington, 250th between US-77 and Zebulon, Zebulon between 250th and 240th, 240th between Zebulon and Chase County, 290th between Diamond and city limit of Lincolnville, 330th between K-15 and Quail Creek, 340th between Quail Creek and Xavier, 360th between Pawnee and Quail Creek, Old Mill between 10th and 60th, Timber between 10th and 60th, Timber between the city of Marion and US-56, Indigo between 70th and the city limit of Hillsboro, Kanza between 140th and 290th, Limestone between 290th and 330th, Nighthawk between US-50 and US-56, Quail Creek between 290th and 360th, Remington between US-56 and 290th, Sunflower between US-50 and the city limit of Marion, Upland between 190th and Lakeshore Drive, Lakeshore Drive in its entirety, Pawnee between U.S. Highway 56 and 230th, and Goldenrod between 190th and U.S. Highway 56.
Susan Cooper, development director for the city of Marion, and Stan Thiessen, project coordinator for SCKEDD, requested a public hearing at the Sept. 17 commission meeting to discuss the commission’s resolution of support for a $100,000 SKEDD grant for business development loans in the county.
Cooper said $10,000 would be kept for administrative costs with the remaining $90,000 going as low-interest loans up to $15,000 each to businesses that qualify by having the business owner or 51 percent of the employees qualifying as low to moderate income under state guidelines.
After an executive session to consider personnel with Becker, the commissioners voted 3-0 to allow him to fill in with part-time personnel when regular patrolmen are absent.
Rickey Roberts was welcomed by the commissioners as the new extension agricultural agent succeeding Steve Tonn.
Roberts said he has officially been on the job in Marion County three weeks, but perhaps only “spent three days here” because he has been called out of the county for training and to participate in livestock judging at the state fair.
Brazil said his department is cooperating in a survey of waste systems in the Neosho River basin area to help pinpoint sources of pollution.
Michele Abbott-Becker, director of communications for emergency management reported high turnouts of firemen for training at Lincolnville and of emergency personnel for water safety rescue at Marion Reservoir.
In a monthly report by JoAnn Knak, emergency medical services director, it was noted that the city of Marion had the most emergency calls in August at 30, but has the greatest shortfall in number of EMT volunteers at six. Knak said it will take until May to help the situation with EMT class starting Oct. 2.
Two executive sessions for attorney/client discussion were held by commissioners with County Attorney Susan Robson and James Kaup, attorney.