ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
The Marion County Commission Monday approved surfacing 2.2 miles of roads at Marion County Lake with rolled millings, but expressed reservations about accepting the roads as the county’s own.
The commissioners also received good news from County Clerk Carol Maggard that the county is approved for a $90,000 Heritage Trust Fund Grant through the Kansas State Historical Society to apply on $119,900 in repairs on the courthouse.
Monty Thomas, member of a committee of lake residents formed by commissioners weeks ago to study the road situation, addressed commissioners’ concerns with a statement that “we already pay on $2 million worth of property there for those 2.2 miles of road.”
Thomas said in answer to suggestions that the lake improvement board take on road maintenance that “people are not going to want to pay more than they are already paying.” He said valuations on homes at the lake have been increasing in the thousands of dollars per home annually as the fastest growing locale of the county, with nearly ludicrous scenes of realtors taking prospective home buyers up mud roads to look at $160,000 homes.
Thomas and Edward Davis, committee chairman, said the county is well served if it takes over improving the roads because more development with more valuation will follow.
Commissioner Howard Collett, saying, “Let me play the devil’s advocate for a moment,” asked the lake group, represented by seven persons, how it justified not paying more for its own roads when compared to developments like Carriage Hills at Hillsboro, where residents pay taxes and additional money for their own roads.
Thomas replied that those residents also receive city police and city lights making it an apples-to-oranges comparison.
He asked, “What’s the difference between East Shore (at Marion Reservoir) and us? They pay county taxes and have county roads. We pay and we have no service. How much more do we have to pay to get service on 2.2 miles of road?”
Earlier in the meeting, Commissioner Leroy Wetta said, “My real concern about this is it looks like the camel’s nose coming in the tent.” He added that he had seen the same thing too many times in the last year and a half as a commissioner with the county asked to pay for the rest of the camel as well as additional similar projects coming through.
Commission Chairman Bob Hein noted that the study originally was looking at more like 2.8 miles of roads in a hodge-podge of widths ranging from less than 12 feet to 50 and 60 feet wide as developers added areas to the lake beginning in the late 1930s.
Robert Meisinger, committee member, said the difference in mileage had been accomplished by the committee determining that some roads should be designated as private ones, as was originally intended by developers.
Hein said if the county waited for hot weather to put millings down thick, and rolled them out, they surely should be good for five years.
Gerald Kelsey, road and bridge supervisor, said there were too many variables in drainage and weather to guarantee that, but agreed the roads would be good for some time.
Davis said the roads already have a good base from years of gravel application.
Thomas said the county would have no other roads with as much valuation per mile.
Hein said, “Well, I think we ought to do this for you people…do it when it’s hot, maybe four or five inches thick, and rolled.”
Kelsey estimated it would take 1,000 to 1,200 tons of millings if the county wanted to do a good job and not a “Bandaid fix.”
The commissioners said it would have to be a good job, and Collett noted that would be a ton per 10 feet.
Hein moved for the road fix with Collett seconding and Wetta joining in for a 3-0 vote, and all three commissioners commended the committee for the job it had done researching the roads.
Davis asked the commissioners to disband the committee, but they declined with Wetta adding that they wanted the group only recessed “so we have a contact point out there.”
Maggard said the county already has budgeted its $29,900 share to match the Heritage grant, which was approved at a May 11 Society meeting to renovate stonework and doorways at the courthouse.
She said the county must select a state-approved engineering firm to complete a study by August with construction documents submitted November-December, bids let next April, and construction beginning July 2003.
The commissioners approved 3-0 buying floor mats for the courthouse for $1,672 replacing a lease service for mats of about $180 a month.
Maggard said courthouse personnel are also trying out a floor scrubber which might result in significant labor-savings over workers coming in before 8 a.m. to do manual mopping and bucket changing leaving them free for other work.
The commissioners approved Clark Township, Blaine Township and the City of Tampa moving forward together in planning to form a fire district.
The commissioners approved 3-0 an agreement with Christie Henry of the Southern Kansas Economic Development Council to serve as administrator of the $100,000 micro-loan program for 10 percent, or $10,000, the state-required fee on the totally grant-financed program.
Janet Griesel, extension associate from Kansas State University, visited with the commissioners on points of focus they wish to see on a totally state-funded study she will do on comparing their expenditures with those of comparable counties.
Commissioners suggested she look at counties with similar population and valuation with special emphasis on high-budget departments such as road and bridge and those under public safety expenses such as law enforcement.
Wetta said the study would help commissioners analyze expenditures, especially when they appear out of line with other counties “to know how come.”
County Attorney Susan Robson presented a letter from Lloyd Davies of Great Plains Computers saying errors with a laser printer going back over months were caused by electrical surges due mostly-after analysis by Gib Suderman and Harvey Sanders, electricians-to courthouse panel breakers at capacity or overloaded.
She said courthouse workers many times have to unplug one item to use another to avoid throwing breakers, and the system is showing many signs of needing upgrading.
The commissioners acknowledged that eventual upgrading of the system will be needed with more electrical demand as the county becomes more dependent on computers and computer-related equipment.
Linda Ogden presented a grant application on behalf of Prairie View to help reduce substance abuse in the community that required Hein’s signature for the state as a representative of local government. She said Harvey and McPherson counties already receive the Title 5 funds.
Ogden appeared later with Mike Wederski of the Juvenile Justice Authority to tell commissioners they may be asked to come up with matching funds for grants the JJA formerly covered in its budget as the agency faces decreasing funding from the tightened state budget.