Commission asks for public input on Sunday beer sales

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Marion County Commission decided Monday to ask for public input before or at 1 p.m. Feb. 7 before deciding whether to allow 3.2 percent beer sales on Sunday in the county.

Warren Kreutziger, owner of Canada Bait and Tackle, asked commissioners for the consideration. He said, “Most people come here asking for some money. I’m going to tell you how to get some money.”

Kreutziger made the same request last year, but commissioners at that time said they didn’t want to allow Canada Bait to sell beer on Sundays because it might put pressure on cities in the county to allow such sales.

Dan Holub, who is a new commissioner along with Randy Dallke since Kreutziger made his last request, said, “I am reluctant to make any decision today until I hear some of the feeling back from the people. It could be an emotional issue.”

Commissioners said comments on beer sales should be in writing when sent to the county, or citizens could call their commissioner.

Canada Bait is the only business in Marion County governed only by the county in cereal malt beverage licensing, commissioners said. Other beer retailers would require city approval for Sunday sales.

Reconsider legals?

The commissioners briefly considered a three-page letter from Hoch Publishing asking for a reversal on their Jan. 18 decision to name the Hillsboro Free Press Extra the county’s official newspaper for legal publications with duplicate publishing at no charge of the same legals in the Hillsboro Free Press.

Commission Chairman Bob Hein and Dallke said they would stand by their decisions voting for naming the Free Press Extra. Holub voted against the decision on the 18th saying he was unsure about being able to fulfill deadlines with the earlier Free Press publication date.

Hein said at that meeting the former legal publication newspaper, The Marion County Record, with added free publication in its other company publications at Peabody and Hillsboro, wasn’t reaching many households in Hillsboro or from Hillsboro and Peabody west to the Goessel area.

Joel Klaassen, publisher of the Free Press and Extra, said he could save the county money by reducing point size of legals to take less space, and would also offer a 10 percent discount for electronic format submission of legals.

Klaassen said the Free Press, with its free distribution, offers the county’s most complete coverage by mailing to nearly every address as verified by an independent auditing company.

In reply to a comment from Donna Bernhardt, manager at the Record, that 20 percent of the people who receive the Free Press don’t read it, Klaassen said the audit showed that 20 percent doesn’t read any newspaper.

“They don’t subscribe to anything,” he said.

Klaassen noted that the Free Press is the only newspaper in the county audited by an outside company.

Dallke said he thought the Record had done “an excellent job” in handling legals, but he was willing to give the Free Press combination a chance.

Aerial photographic maps

The commissioners Monday directed County Appraiser Dianna Carter-Franz to seek prices for aerial photographic mapping of the cities of the county, a project estimated to be in the $30,000 range. She also will seek price breaks for including rural areas.

Carter-Franz said she and David Brazil, planning and zoning director, require precise measurements and clarity of photos from a vertical angle. She said she could unencumber $10,000 previously committed, and Brazil had turned back $11,000 in once-encumbered funds to the county general, both of which could be used for mapping.

She said that the original estimate of $70,000 for the project had included the county’s rural areas, but that she could use photos from a state-contracted service out of Manhattan for rural agricultural changes.

Dallke noted that the last fly-over photography of the county was done in 1984.

“A lot of things have changed since then,” he said.

Hein and Holub said small towns in the northern part of the county, like Durham, Ramona and Tampa, should be included in the mapping.

Other matters

The commissioners approved paying $6,275.55 as the Marion County share of insurance for the Eighth Judicial District to correct a situation where Geary County has paid for the insurance by itself.

Holub was appointed commissioner to serve on the board of the juvenile detention area, and Dallke was named to serve on RC&D.

The commissioners took advantage of an opportunity to stabilize the county’s relationship with Great Plains Computers of Marion by contracting with the company for 100 hours service at $55.25 an hour for trouble shooting and repairs.

Hein said Great Plains did a good job through about 130 hours service last year at a rate of about $65 an hour.

The commissioners approved a payroll human resource and time entry program recommended by County Clerk Carol Maggard for $12,995, half of it to come from the courthouse fund and half from the risk management fund.

Brazil, who along with being transfer station manager has been named as county manager for the landfill closure, shared updating letters from Jack Chappelle, consulting engineer on the project.

Brazil said part of the update outlines how the county will need to check water samples annually from four monitoring wells at the site. He said he might be able to do this through his office as county sanitarian, or at least by collecting the samples himself to send for testing.

In response to a public inquiry on transfer station solid waste loads to Topeka receiving traffic tickets, Brazil said there may have been two or three in the last year.

He said if it rains on a load, the water can add tonnage, even with a tarp over the load, resulting in overweight citations.

After a 15-minute executive session for personnel with Brazil, the commissioners scheduled an 8:30 a.m. grievance hearing for an employee next Monday.

The commissioners approved a bid presented by Court Clerk Jan Helmer of $6,009 from Business Systems Inc. of Wichita for a new judicial office copier. Sunflower Office Products of Newton had bids ranging from more than $4,000 to nearly $8,000 depending on lease plan selected. Quest of Wichita bid $9,728.76.

All three commissioners liked the idea of giving a new Marion County employee health and fitness challenge program a trial presented by Noreen Weems, Faye Makovec and Dana Wear.

But Dallke liked it so well that, at his suggestion, the commissioners approved running the program two years.

Wear said the program allows employees to accumulate points for such health habits as exercise, diet, lifestyle and safety to the point where they can earn an extra paid day off annually.

Holub said if the program can eliminate some employee sick days, it will be a proven winner.

The commissioners voted 3-0 to sign an annual noxious weed distribution eradication report to the state presented by Noxious Weed Supervisor Bill Smithhart.

They approved Acting Road and Bridge Director Jim Herzet seeking bids for a new backhoe. He said the department would also keep the old backhoe.

Jan. 18 business

At the Jan. 18 meeting, the commissioners approved a $419,849 contract with SBC, formerly known as Southwest Bell, for completion of the county 911 upgrade that will allow pinpointing even of cellular phone calls by longitude and latitude.

Communications Director Michelle Abbott-Becker said the funds will include $327,052 in federal Homeland Security funds, $62,661 from a Public Safety Foundation of America grant, and $30,136 as the county share.

Emergency Medical Services Director Darryl Thiesen reported income for the backlog of ambulance run billings the county has been trying to catch up on have been coming in. The revenue has grown from $2,413.40 in November to $12,668.51 received in the first two weeks of January.

Linda Ogden, director for Communities in Schools, told commissioners that besides the nearly $1 million in grants the program has brought into the county, the economic development of the county is linked to the well-being of children, youth and families.

“Poverty is the real issue in Marion County,” she said.

The commissioners approved 3-0 acceptance of Kansas Wildlife and Parks funds and management at Marion County Lake for five years subject to 30 days back-out notice under the state Communities Fisheries Assistance Program.

The program is an attempt to increase fishing at community lakes by eliminating local permits so only state licenses are required.

Dale Snelling, lake park manager, will update KWP on needs and lost permit revenue estimates. Under a current normal lake permit income estimate of $22,000, state representatives, Coordinator Jessica Mounts, Ken McCloskey and Alison Ethridge, said they would compensate the county 75 percent of the total, or $16,000 by April 1. The remainder would be paid before the end of the year.

In addition Snelling’s department will be eligible for grants up to $40,000 for improvements such as docks and sidewalks that might help promote fishing. The county can count in its 25 percent match of grant funds, such things as a value of $9.34 an hour per person assigned for each volunteer from a community group that might perform tasks like picking up trash.

KWP may provide extra law enforcement personnel to assist with increased lake use.

Maggard said the county cash position of $12,113,011.87 reported by the treasurer included $7,315,003.86 in ad valorem taxes for dispersal collected by December 31. The general fund was at $935,553.38, and the road and bridge fund at $603,236.03.

Holub said he wanted the commission to take another look at zoning rules because he is hearing “over and over again” from the public that current rules for residential acreages are too restrictive.

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