Moundridge company’s bid accepted for landfill cover job

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER<
Unruh Excavation of Moundridge was awarded the bid at $165,100 to move the dirt to cover the old landfill southwest of Marion at Monday's Marion County Commission meeting.

Mike Unruh, who represented the company, said he could begin work the first week of January.

But Jack Chappelle, consulting engineer for the county, said it might take until the third week of January to get the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to approve the contractural procedure for a winter start. He explained that KDHE wants dirt for use completely thawed for good compaction.

Unruh said he had good success at closing a Harvey County landfill in January and February. But he was concerned that to delay starting the project until the third week of the month could allow frost to penetrate, making it March before work could begin.

Commissioners Leroy Wetta, Howard Collett and Bob Hein appeared openly pleased at the bid. They told commissioners-elect Dan Holub and Randy Dallke, who have been coming to meetings as successors to Collett and Wetta beginning in January, that the bid price will make total cost of the landfill closure fall within the fund-level of the contingency fund they created for landfill closure.

The current commissioners came through four years that had a KDHE lawsuit for closure of the landfill against them for much of that time, and they had to make plans at times without knowing what the final settlement of that lawsuit would look like.

Other competing bids for the project opened by Chappelle and the commissioners Monday included Pearson Excavation of Wichita at $268,500, Mies Construction of Wichita at $236,700, Malm Construction of Lindsborg at $207,407.50, Jayhawk Contractors of Wichita at $185,565, and Bob Bergkamp Construction of Wichita at $193,475.

As the apparent contractural bidder, Unruh said he could have required bonding completed within five days. He will have to fill out contractural documents for KDHE approval.

Chappelle said if everything is in order, and KDHE approves, the commissioners could be signing the contract with Unruh next Wednesday or Thursday.

Unruh said if he could just get the first 18 inches of dirt down, he probably could proceed with the rest of the dirt cover regardless of freezing.

Unruh hoped he didn’t have to wait until March, and the commissioners seemed to share the hope that work could begin as soon as possible.

The commissioners approved a conditional use permit for a feedlot of up to 1,200 cattle on 80 acres of a quarter in section 2-18-3 presented by David Brazil, planning and zoning director.

Collett said he had received public concerns about odor and possible fly problems from expansion of the feedlot, which now has about 600 cattle.

Brazil said with new surface water controls such as lagoon and vegetation strips required by KDHE for the expansion, the feedlot should represent less environmental hazard than it did even if expanded.

He confirmed for Collett that KDHE set guidelines for the expansion, and the feedlot can expand to 1,000 head, even without county approval. The permit is to allow it to go to more than that at 1,200 animals under varying definitions for commercial feed lots according to size.

Brazil reported, for all of his department budgets, that as of Nov. 30, planning and zoning was at 67 percent of budget for the year, the transfer station was at 86 percent, and environmental health was at 87 percent.

The transfer station recorded disposal of 527.59 tons of solid waste in November, bringing the total for the year to 6,787.32 tons. The average haul to the landfill at Topeka weighed 18.84 tons, with 28 hauls in November and 360 hauls for the year.

A report from County Treasurer Jeannine Bateman presented by County Clerk Carol Maggard said as of Nov. 30 the county had cash on hand of $5,914,703.18. This included $1,342,488.70 in the county general fund and $732,605.27 in the road and bridge fund.

The report said ad valorem taxes received as of Nov. 30 totaled $745,910.02.

The commissioners tabled a request from county employees that they pass an employee policy to allow contribution of sick-leave days from employees with surplus days to other employees who might need more leave because of severe illnesses in their families.

County Appraiser Dianna Carter-Frantz said other counties have such a policy to help employees with catastrophic illness. She said it’s a rarity that it has to be used-not a constant concern.

Acting Road and Bridge director Jim Herzet said a majority of employees in his department oppose the idea because “too many people abuse sick leave, and then don’t have enough time left when they need it.”

Collett said if the idea ever became policy, a procedure would have to be worked out for medical approval without favoritism or vindictiveness toward employees.

Commissioners also tabled a request from department heads to reconsider encumbering funds, and perhaps using Federal Emergency Management Agency relief money, to do new high-resolution aerial photography of the county.

Hein, in agreement, said, “It’s a good project, I think.”

But Wetta said that there are only 10 days left of the year for approval and legal publication of such a project.

“There are two of us here who will not be staying on,” he added.

He said it should be a project for the next county commission to consider.

Collett said he has “a problem” when it comes to using FEMA funds intended to compensate the county for road upkeep in disastrous wet weather in June and July for anything but roads.

“I think we should use it to redo the gravel roads in the county,” he said.

Emergency Management and Communications Director Michelle Abbott-Becker said that there was a 3 percent administrative fee awarded for department head reports with the FEMA money that could be diverted for the project.

The commissioners asked Herzet the total lease-purchase prices of road graders they hoped to pay off with FEMA funds, therefore saving the county future payments.

Herzet said there was one grader at $99,000 and three at $116,000, and “three more that I haven’t looked up yet.”

Wetta said there is $250,000 annually budgeted to pay these lease-purchases. He said paying them off would allow the county to break out of a lease-purchase rut to outright buy graders in the future “plus free up money for the other side of the budget.”

To which Carter-Frantz asked, “For the photography project.”

Responding, Wetta said, “Maybe so.”

Earlier in the meeting, Herzet told the commissioners his department is still catching up on graveling wet-weather washed and settled roads, hauling an average 1,000 tons of gravel every three days.

The commissioners approved a bid of $812 from Elcon Inc. of Hillsboro over a bid of $1,362 from Linco Inc. of Marion to install overhead fan for heat distribution in the county shop building.

They approved encumbering funds for next year in the appraiser’s office of $1,500 for education and $10,500 for CAMA.

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