County commissioners OK upgrading phone system

Despite a $6,000 oversight, Ma Bell wasn’t put on hold by the Marion County Commission Monday. The commissioners voted 3-0 to approve a $16,573 upgrade to the courthouse telephone system.

County Clerk Carol Maggard pointed out to the commissioners that the initial estimate for the upgrade was $10,100, but SWB (formerly known as Southwestern Bell) neglected to include funds for the persons who will do the technical work.

The commissioners noted in approving the upgrade-including the health department, which isn’t in the courthouse-that maintenance contracts with the telephone company must be continued, which could cost the county more to do without in the event of a disaster.

Maggard said breaking the upgrade cost down to monthly payments within calendar years made it not much higher annually than what the county expected to pay anyway, with only $160 this year over budget.

The commissioners’ approval also included a new five-year maintenance contract with SWB at $2,268.87 a year. It includes 36 standard business lines and 80 stations.

Maggard will be returning approximately $2,300 to the general fund, she said, from $4,000 that was encumbered because bids for chairs to complete clerk’s office remodeling, approved by the commissioners, came in at $1,821.66 from Navrat’s and Scott Rise companies.

The commissioners met for 40 minutes in executive session with Steve Pigg, the Topeka attorney who is representing them before the Kansas Supreme Court in the Kansas Department of Health and Environment lawsuit against the county to attempt to force it to be responsible for closing the old landfill southwest of Marion.

The court is expected to make a decision by May 30. The commissioners made no announcement following the executive session.

Todd Butterfield, who lives on 350th Road in Logan Township in the northwest corner of Marion County, came to the commissioners both to complain about and to commend road-surface conditions.

Butterfield said he has been pleased with the good base and maintenance most of the time on his road, and with the hard surface improvement of nearby Roxbury Road. But the railroad rock, which the county obtained free for hauling from an abandoned rail line near Carlton, is causing flat tires on his and neighbors’ vehicles, he said.

Butterfield said his sons picked up 10 gallons of railroad spikes out of the gravel along his home, and he and neighbors along Bison Road where the gravel also was applied are continually stopping to pick up spikes.

It isn’t the spikes that cause the flats-it’s the extra hard rocks themselves, he said, especially the smaller broken ones as sharp slivers that penetrate tires, even new heavy-tread ones.

Both Butterfield and Gerald Kelsey, road and bridge director, said the rock recently was put down in response to consumer complaints during continual rains that they wanted a harder surface on roads that were “becoming sloppy” above the basic solid roadbed.

Earlier applications of railroad rock that was only three-quarter-inch ballast didn’t seem to cause any problems, Kelsey said.

The commissioners asked Kelsey to have the road crew “recover” the railroad rock to bury later under roads being reconstructed, which would provide a more solid base.

The rock would be recovered from 350th by Butterfield as well as on two miles of Bison down to the Roxbury Road.

Kelsey said probably it would be stockpiled in Tampa, and might be buried later for the bed rebuilding North Tampa Road.

Kelsey commended Jim Donahue for donating land needed for construction of a county bridge at Durham.

The commissioners decided to follow a recommendation from Commission Chairman Howard Collett that no action be taken regarding consideration of the Amelia Park Bridge at Antelope for designation as a national historical structure. A decision will be made during the May 10 meeting of the Kansas Historical Society.

Commissioner Bob Hein announced he has appointed Nancy Pihl of Hillsboro to the Marion County Mental Health Advisory Board.

Dale Snelling, park and lake director, said he has hired Roy Hager of Florence to work at the County Lake.

Mike Wederski, Kansas Department of Corrections and Juvenile Justice Authority administrator for this area out of Junction City, brought a comprehensive fiscal plan for the commissioners “to sign off on” that uses more part-time surveillance officers to contend with reduced state funding.

Bill Smithhart, household hazardous waste director, said the mobile pick up in Burns May 3 had 12 participants turn in 773 pounds of waste with 411 pounds at no cost for disposal and 362 pounds with some charge.

The Commission also met April 30 for a $630,464.14 payday meeting.

Maggard said sales tax for February, collected in March, and distributed in April was up at $32,247.56, but still down by $6,202.68 for the year compared to the same period last year.

Marion County sales tax collections last year totaled $459,336.15, she said.

A letter from the City of Marion was received notifying commissioners that a 10-year tax exemption on $240,000 in equipment had been granted for Marion Die and Fixture.

Commissioners Hein and Leroy Wetta said they thought the exemption was “a good deal for us,” especially in consideration that it might create three new jobs in the county.

Snelling said he had an estimate from Hett Construction in Marion of $575 for the grinding down and concrete patching of a crack in the floor of the County Lake Hall, with which commissioners told him to proceed.

Commissioners discussed the necessity of immediate repair to the jail roof where a transmission from a tile roof to a flat roof without required flashing in earlier construction has caused water leaks.

David Brazil, planning, zoning, sanitarian and solid waste director, said a recycling grant application for an $84,000 project in the county for a horizontal trailer and seven dual purpose recycling trailers for processing newspaper, cardboard and office paper has been submitted to KDHE.

The grant for fiscal year 2004 would be considered in July, and awarded in August to 18 among 80 applicants, Brazil said.

Brazil said paper recycling could reduce the waste stream 5 percent the first year, 10 percent the second year, and 15 percent beyond that.

The commissioners approved a conditional use for a greenhouse operated as a retail business by Dale and Jana Dalke on property on the old highway west of Marion.

Brazil expected the planning and zoning board members to travel to Gray County Wednesday to view and collect information on an electrical generating wind farm.

The commission approved a request 2-1 with Hein opposed from County Appraiser Dianna Carter to hire a part-time summer person to assist with data collection for 14 weeks at $8.50 an hour.

Maggard said Mid-Continental Restoration of Fort Scott will begin the 90-day courthouse renovation project May 27.

The commissioners awarded Cardie Oil Co. transport fuel bids for 5,500 gallons of diesel and 2,500 gallons of unleaded gasoline for $8,079.45 over a bid from Cooperative Grain.

They split area fuel bids for 4,400 gallons of diesel in three areas to Cooperative Grain for $3,651.60, and 2,150 gallons in one area to Cardie for $1,758.05.

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