County holds off on signing landfill final agreement

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
Steve Pigg, Topeka attorney for the Marion County Board of Commissioners concerning solid-waste matters, sent a final agreement on the old landfill southwest of Marion to the Monday Commission meeting.

But commissioners ended a 15-minute executive session with Pigg without signing off on the agreement until what they considered minor details are settled.

The commissioners said the agreement will be finished soon pending further consultations.

The agreement deeds 80 acres adjacent to the landfill to the county from parties involved in its management after the Kansas Supreme Court had directed the local district court to look further at improper actions they may have taken in the landfill history.

Commissioner Howard Collett said the county needed to be sure matters are spelled out, such as who has rights to and payments from CRP ground planted to native grass under contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Collett said without proper consideration, payments from the USDA contract could go for as long as 10 years to a former owner or tenant, and the county would be unable to exercise full title rights to do with the land as it wishes.

He said, “We want to make sure we get it, lock, stock and barrel.”

Auditor’s questions

The commissioners’ attention during the meeting was focused on the county code of conduct and purchasing policy, both of which they approved at meeting’s end. The issue was raised by the county auditor in regard to the microloan program.

Of special considerations were concerns about how much an item or service has to cost to put it up for bids even when good judgment shows the best deal is at hand, and how strict the code is that prohibits commissioners’ receiving gifts from companies.

On the first consideration, the commissioners said bidding must begin when the price is more than $500.

On the second issue, they agreed that some discretion must be allowed for commissioners to drink coffee or eat meals at events like Kansas Association of Counties meetings when those items are paid for by private companies.

The commissioners reviewed the written job description that might be used, submitted by County Clerk Carol Maggard, for the position of county economic director with no final decision.

The commissioners voted to allow the 2 percent pay increase for county employees to apply to part-time personnel who worked 250 hours or more each last year. They amended this decision to allow the pay raise for one person with fewer hours in the register of deeds office.

Road easment inquiry

County Attorney Susan Robson brought to commissioners’ attention that Charles Dannenfelser might need county help in having road or easement access to land he owns southwest of Florence that otherwise is “land-locked,” cut off from roads by land owned by other persons.

Commission Chairman Leroy Wetta said the matter may raise the question of whether the county is obligated to help if the landowner does have road access to a portion of land with the remainder of the land cut off only because it is on the other side of a high-banked stream.

“It probably isn’t our problem that somebody bought rough land,” he said.

Liquor by the drink

The commissioners approved a question for voters on the November ballot, submitted by Robson, that asks whether serving of liquor by the drink should be served at restaurants in the county that receive at least 30 percent of income from food sales.

They noted that it is a clearly written question with a “yes vote” meaning “yes,” and a “no vote” meaning no.

Robson said she had researched the question on county jurisdiction in granting a request by Warren Kreutziger to sell beer at Canada Bait on Sundays, and the Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that it is a matter of home rule under the authority of county government in unincorporated areas of a county.

Collett said even though Kreutziger is “a good businessman” who performs valuable “public service,” he didn’t know if he “wanted to go there.”

He said he was concerned that a commission ruling allowing the beer sales could place unwanted pressure on city governments in the county to grant the same thing to their merchants.

Lake improvements

The commissioners authorized Park Superintendent Dale Snelling to contract with Jack Boese, brick and rock layer at the county lake, to repair historical designed rock cookers and incinerators there for $450 with the intent for up to two rennovations a year.

They also authorized Snelling to contract with Sardou Carpentry of Marion at a rate of $20 an hour each for two men plus materials to repair the 1950s park deck keeping it in the water to avoid it falling apart.

Commissioner Bob Hein said the deck, which is falling apart, “must be fixed,” and he noted that funds for both it and the stones will come from existing park earnings.

Other matters

The commissioners authorized Lloyd Davies of Great Plains Computers in Marion to block unauthorized accounts and site breaches on the county Internet, at least in part to guard against computer viruses.

The commissioners reviewed a proposal from Ralph Kreutziger, general contractor, for repair of water leaks and rennovation of damaged areas in the jail, but withheld a decision for “fairness purposes,” until Suffield Heating, Plumbing and Cooling could offer a proposal next week.

In response to requests from Michele Abbott-Becker, communications and emergency management director, the commissioners signed papers enabling receipt of $100,000 in federal Homeland Security grant funds which among other things will be used to upgrade 911 software.

The commission also accepted $20,000 in state funds that will employ the firm of Bucher, Willis and Ratzliff for a county “all hazards review”pinpointing chemical storage and authorized sales tax money funding for an on-site structure to house 911 equipment.

County Clerk Carol Maggard said budgets for all departments were remaining within the expected 25 percent level for the year with only a 2 percent overage to 27 percent at the transfer station due to first of the year insurance payments and new equipment purchases.

Darryl Thiesen, emergency medical services director, reported 72 ambulance runs for March: 36 from Hillsboro, 19 from Marion, 11 from Peabody and six from Tampa. The runs included 10 transfer, eight cardiac, 25 emergency, 7 standby, one motor vehicle accident, 11 falls, eight no transports and two others.

There were also 10 first responder runs: two from Burns, five from Goessel, one from Lincolnville and two from Ramona.

Thiesen said he received professional CPR instructor certification in a class this month. He reported 10 students in intermediate emergency medical technician classes, six in Herington and four in Hutchinson.

Thiesen said many church pastors are volunteering for training for critical incident stress management calls.

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