Juvenile authority reducing repeats, commissioners told

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
The Marion County Commission learned Monday that the four-county juvenile justice system it participates in appears to be reducing juvenile crime and repeat offenses.


Mike Wederski, juvenile justice authority director for Marion, Geary, Dickinson and Morris counties working together under an interlocal agreement, said second-time offenses for juveniles have declined from 249 a year ago to 200 this year in the four counties.


He credited community collaborative efforts by schools, merchants, the justice system and mental health providers.


He said grants for activities like the after-school program for children and the attendant-care program for juvenile offenders staffed by Loretta Klose in Marion County are paying dividends.


Wederski said efforts will begin next spring to get grant money back for Klose’s position that places her more in the position of a caretaker for children brought in rather than a jailer.


In the meantime, the program has funds until Sept. 30, 2002. Since there are indications that the 2003 Kansas Dept. of Corrections funding for juvenile justice may be cut, he is hoping that KDC may grant permission for funds allocated for equipment to be used on programs.


The commissioners voted to authorize County Clerk Carol Maggard to spend up to $3,000 to enlist Dan Hall of B.G. Construction to help write a proposal for up to $90,000 in State Historical Society heritage construction grant funds for courthouse repairs including stone tuck pointing and window construction.


The county share would be about $18,000 or 20 percent of the total, and commissioners specified a request that wouldn’t exceed that amount.


Maggard said she wanted the preliminary application in by Jan. 15 to allow the state time to ask for changes in wording or detail.


Commissioners Leroy Wetta and Howard Collett gave David Brazil, county sanitarian, permission to get legal counsel from Topeka Attorney James Kaup on land use questions expected to come up. Kaup has been representing the county on solid waste disposal issues.


Commissioner Bob Hein was absent.


The commissioners passed a resolution of approval for a comprehensive economic development plan presented by Bill Bolin, South-Central Kansas economic director, and Susan Cooper, Marion development director as part of a federally mandated periodic update.


Commissioners approved a low bid presented by Bill Smithhart, noxious weed director, from Ag Service at Hillsboro for 24 gallons of Tordon 22K herbicide at $77.10 a gallon totaling $1,850.40 to be used in aerial spraying for musk thistle.


Michele Abbott-Becker, emergency management director, proposed allocating $2,000 from her funds to Florence ambulance service to go with $5,200 raised at Florence for the $7,200 purchase of a jaws of life demonstration model.


Tracey Warner of the Florence ambulance service explained that the jaws would otherwise cost $9,300 if the department waited on funding to buy a new unit.


Abbott-Becker said Florence frequently is the first responder at an accident scene, and needs the jaws for metal cutting to use with the air bags it already has for lifting and seperating.


She explained that otherwise, critical time is wasted waiting for jaws from Marion, Peabody or Strong City ambulance services, or from fire departments at Lincolnville or Peabody which also at times may lack personnel for the effort during business hours.


Wetta wondered about the possibility of a contribution from Chase County.


The women said the ambulance has been called into the Chase County areas of Cedar Point and Wonsevu perhaps three times in the last two years because even though Florence is near, the population density is low there.


Wetta also thought the request might be delayed until the end of the year in order to take into account possible encumbrance of emergency management funds for items such as decontaminant areas and clothing. He said concerns such as national preoccupation with terrorism and the need to respond to such things as anhydrous ammonia accidents might make delay needed.


The commissioners decided to reconsider the funding next week when Hein returns.


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