ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
After a 20-minute executive session to consult with an attorney, the Marion County Board of Commissioners, at its Friday payday meeting, signed a final agreement that enables the cleanup of the old landfill southwest of Marion to Kansas Department of Health and Environment standards.
The agreement had been on hold since February while the county’s Topeka attorney, Steve Pigg, worked out final details with representatives of former legal adversaries, the Gross family, who once ran the landfill, and MSW, the company formed by Wichita attorney Russell Mills.
Commissioners had directed Pigg to have clarified in a final agreement that the county would have full right to all uses of 80 acres given the county in final settlement after the Kansas Supreme Court turned a decision back to district court for disposition with possible fraudulent actions by some legal participants in mind.
Commission Chairman Leroy Wetta said the action “takes us out of court, and into the next phase of consulting with engineers to move forward with KDHE to properly close the landfill.”
“We want to make it right with KDHE,” said Commissioner Howard Collett.
Asked if there was any possibility of reopening the landfill, Wetta said none of the commissioners would comment on that.
The commissioners hired a Hillsboro resident and former county health nurse, Diedre Serene, to succeed Jan Moffitt, who has resigned, as county health nurse effective May 3 at $18 an hour for 1,040 hours annually.
County Clerk Carol Maggard said Serene has been working part-time in the health department.
Maggard gave the commissioners a total payday figure for payroll and payments of $724,296.
She also announced the latest monthly sales tax receipt, “which is good again,” of $33,703. The amount is for February sales, collected by the state in March, and disbursed in April.
The figure compares to an amount of $32,248 last year, and puts the county on the road to share in economic recovery at $23,678 ahead in sales taxes received compared to last year for the first four months of this year.
Wetta said he had been “personally offended” by an editorial in a county newspaper that opposed the commission’s awarding of a 2 percent wage increase to county employees from funds that would have been paid for health insurance after health insurance premiums were reduced.
Wetta said the commissioners were only giving benefit money to employees that was already earmarked for them.
Collett said he hoped that even though the raise was small it was still having a positive effect among county employees.
The commissioners took note that Dale Snelling, parks manager at the Marion County Lake, is consulting with County Attorney Susan Robson regarding changed Kansas Wildlife and Parks policy.
Later, the commissioners joined with other county officials and mayors from around the county in planting and dedicating a redbud tree south of the courthouse for Arbor Day and participation in the Kansas territorial sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary of U.S. territorial status.
The planting was done as part of a statewide effort under the Kansas State Historical Society coordinating with the Kansas Forest Service, Kansas State University, the Kansas Nursery and Landscape Association, and the Kansas Territorial Sesquicentennial Commission.
Peggy Goertzen, director of the historical archives at Tabor College, noted the historical importance of trees in the county, and how early settlers regarded establishment of trees as vital to the success of their communities.
She said nurseries were established as early as the 1870s and 1880s in the county with a nursery at Canada printing a catalogue for trees in both German and English.
After consulting with Jerry May of Foley Tractor at Salina and Gerald Kelsey, road and bridge director, the commissioners voted to replace existing lease agreements for a new lease on three new 12H road graders. The new machines will have increased horsepower and ability at a total cost increase of $1,600 a year per machine, $1,900 a month each at 3.75 percent interest with standard Foley buy-back agreement.
In part, the discussion centered on a continuing effort to upgrade county road graders while staying with moderate-sized machines.
The commissioners split area fuel bids between bidders giving Areas 1, 800 gallons of diesel at $1.1288 a gallon for $903.04, and Area 2,150 gallons of diesel at $1.1247 a gallon for $2,418.11, to Cardie Oil of Tampa.
Cooperative Grain & Supply of Hillsboro was awarded areas 3 and 4, each of them 1,800 gallons at $1.114 a gallon for $2,052.