Commissioners warned about West Nile virus

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
David Brazil, county sanitarian, told the Marion County Commission on Monday which met in a pay day session that the West Nile virus carried by mosquitos is expected to impact human, horse and bird populations in this area for the second year in a row.

Brazil said there were 14,717 cases of West Nile nationally in horses last year with 793 cases in Kansas in 103 counties with a high probability the disease will be in all 105 counties this year.

There were no human deaths from West Nile recorded in Kansas, although neighboring Nebraska recorded four deaths, and Brazil said susceptibility is high among infants, the elderly and immune system compromised individuals.

He warned that horse owners should be getting animals vaccinated, and that everybody should be getting rid of containers that might hold rain water for mosquito breeding, including old tires.

Brazil said if such a container is needed, throwing a handfull of rock salt in it will keep mosquitos out. Late season mosquitos are more likely to be West Nile carriers than early season mosquitos, he noted.

Sewage lagoons are not a problem for mosquito breeding, Brazil said, as long as vegetation that might keep wind action from the water surface is kept low.

Increased infection of birds with West Nile is likely this year in all continental states, but nothing can be done to help that, Brazil said.

Economic news wasn’t good with County Clerk Carol Maggard reporting that newly recorded January sales taxes totalled $31,616.62 compared to $39,579.37 a year ago, putting Marion County’s total sales tax collection $7,635.24 lower than last year to this date.

Maggard said the total payday figure was $559,400.22.

The State Historical Society notified the commission May 10 that two Marion County structures are to be considered for placement on the National Registry of Historic Places which will make them eligible for state-administered grants for rehabilitation and preservation.

The structures are the Bichet School, District 34, 4.5 miles east of the Florence U.S. Highway 50 and U.S. Highway 77 junction, and then a tenth mile north on Bluestem Road, and the Amelia Park Bridge a half-mile west of U.S. 77 on 260th northeast of Antelope.

The commissioners voted 3-0 for final approval of the contract for restoration work this summer on the Marion County Courthouse, a National Registry county structure already approved for Heritage Trust Fund financing from the state.

The commissioners unanimously approved a new five-year plan for bridge building accelerated under an availability of federal funds through the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Under the plan, the first bridges replaced will be one at Durham, then the heavily travelled bridge below Marion Reservoir Dam and the Eastshore development area, and then one north of Lehigh.

Sheriff Lee Becker confirmed that if the national terrorism threat is ever elevated to the top red category during the bridge construction below the reservoir, the road over the dam automatically will be closed off by federal authorities, and Eastshore residents would be forced to travel by rock roads three miles east to Pilsen Road to leave the area.

Noreen Weems, elderly department director, said that persons at some of the county’s senior centers have been concerned that if they take garbage home from the centers for disposal, they are in violation of county rules adapted for transfer station operation.

Commissioners said that is not a concern for the county because they don’t care how solid waste reaches the transfer station, but it could be a concern for a local trash collector.

The commissioners voted 3-0 to allow Brazil, in his capacity as transfer station manager, to investigate buying a used Heckendorn mower for $1,850 from Heckendorn at Peabody over a used White Turf Boss from Straub Inc. at Marion for $2,500 provided the machine works well.

Brazil noted that a moratorium on charging cities for disposal of commercial and demolition waste at the transfer station ended March 26. The commissioners agreed to allow Brazil to make an administrative decision to limit C&D waste to one cubic yard without extra charge in the future.

Brazil, as county planning and zoning director, presented a two-part contract from a consultant for first the county plan and second county zoning regulations, but Commissioner Leroy Wetta protested saying he didn’t want the county to lose bargaining leverage because it didn’t require separate contracts.

Commissioners Howard Collett and Bob Hein agreed, and asked Brazil to talk to the consultant about separate agreements.

The commissioners approved a proposal from County Treasurer Jeannine Bateman for lease-purchase of a Pitney Bowes postal machine and rent of a meter at $785 a month, saving money over the previously paid $821 a month.

Bateman suggested commissioners might want to allow her to upgrade job descriptions for workers in her department because new applicants sometimes aren’t qualified to do work because the descriptions they read underqualify the workers really needed.

The commissioners decided not to upgrade the descriptions under suggestion from Wetta because they said upgraded qualifications might automatically hike pay expectations.

Becker and Officer Jeff Soyez demonstrated a heat sensing hand-held camera purchased with grant funds that can follow individuals in the open, detect recent handprints or footprints, or detect hot spots left from fires, basically anything that shows a tenth of a degree warmer than its surroundings.

Soyez said the camera has already helped in the 15-minute apprehension of a person fleeing on foot that ordinarily might have resulted in a four-hour search.

Weems said recent senior center mill levy requests approved included $199.95 for a VCR/DVD unit and $228.90 for a serving cart totalling $428.85 of which the Tampa center requested $399.95.

The commissioners authorized the Department of the Elderly to purchase of tires with heavier sidewalls for its van because of the loads it carries. Lanell Hett, elderly secretary/transportation director, reported 14 senior trips in the van for March.

Weems said Don Fruechting, representing Marion County on the Northcentral-Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging Board, reported a foot care grant for the county has been approved.

The commissioners split area fuel bids awarding areas one, three and four totalling 4,400 gallons of diesel for $3048.96 to Cooperative Grain & Supply, and area two totalling 2,150 gallons at $1,977.35 to Cardie Oil.

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