Sedgwick County could fill new jail, commissioners hear

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
Marion County Jailer and Deputy Gary Klose told county commissioners Monday that his counterpart in Sedgwick County said he believes his county will fill a jail-for-profit facility if Marion County builds it.

Klose said the Sedgwick County official said if a proposed 64-bed jail is built with 20 beds reserved for Marion County prisoners, Sedgwick County would bring 40 inmates to fill it immediately.

Sedgwick would be willing to pay $30 a day plus medical costs per prisoner, or $1,200 a day total for the 40, Klose said. Sedgwick County’s own jail can house 1,100 prisoners, plus that county currently contracts out inmates to 16 other counties, he said.

Klose said Sedgwick County keeps two vehicles going five days a week just to transport prisoners to other counties.

The commissioners told Klose and Sheriff Lee Becker that they want someone from Sedgwick County to come talk to them.

County Clerk Carol Maggard asked the commissioners where they had intended to take money from to finance a feasibility study for a new jail. The commissioners directed her to take the money from sales tax receipts.

The two officers said the jail housed 19 prisoners over the weekend.

Becker said he has been working with Dale Snelling, park superintendent at Marion County Lake, to provide added security to make sure things don’t get out of hand at the lake with added crowds because of a new agreement with the state not to charge fees for fishing.

Snelling has said there is added chance for more rowdy behavior and greater alcohol consumption.

Besides regular patrols, Becker said officers have been instructed to make returns through the lake area to Marion for added observation. Spring and summer shifts for officers at Marion Reservoir also are beginning, and Becker said those officers will make an extra swing through the lake area before coming in.

As requested by the commissioners to oversee possible detour routes with the closing of U.S. Highway 77 for reconstruction, Becker said he has added more patroling on roads like Sunflower, Nighthawk and Indigo.

Becker said they have seen no excessive semi-truck traffic, although in a limited number of cases truck drivers with no in-county destination have been told to run back.

Passenger-car traffic on the routes has predominantly stayed within speed limits, Becker said, although he also wants to see what happens during peak traffic events such as Fort Riley payday.

Commissioner Randy Dallke told Becker he had seen three or four semi-trucks on county roads since the highway closing. He said wants officers to continue checking the highway, and wants public awareness raised that the deputies are there.

The commissioners pressed Ambulance Director Darryl Thiesen to step up the pace on catching up with billings for past ambulance runs. Thiesen said he expected billing to the end of 2004 to be done by May.

Commissioner Dan Holub said he would like to see it caught up closer to date than that.

Thiesen said he has been looking at improving efficiencies within the department to help in the catch-up. He suggested spending $217.76 for a telephone to one person’s desk, so she wouldn’t have to get up from her work to go to a phone. The courthouse telephone system is wired so a particular line goes to a particular phone.

Dallke said he wants to see estimates on how much money on how many ambulance runs is outstanding before any more expenses are authorized.

Thiesen said there is no way to know how much a run will bring in until it is written up for billing according to what charges a run made, and how the insurer is billed. He said runs can bring in anywhere from $200 to $700.

Commission Chairman Bob Hein asked Thiesen if he couldn’t get it down to some round figures such as perhaps 100 runs in a month for an average $500 per run.

Dallke asked if two people couldn’t be dedicated to more time to get the billing caught up without spending more money.

Thiesen said a computer ordered that will make more billing time possible hasn’t arrived yet. He assured commissioners that billings are allowed up to 12 months before they are disallowed by insurance companies.

After a five-minute executive session with Thiesen, the commissioners granted vacation time to Deanna Olsen.

David Brazil, planning and zoning, environmental health and transfer station director, announced hiring of a new employee at the transfer station, Dan Selznick.

Brazil said his departmental budgets are on course for the year except for a temporary bulge in transfer station budget up to 23 percent of the year because of bond payment.

Truck transport weights from the transfer station to the landfill at Perry have been averaging 18.95 tons. Brazil expected more tonnage shipped with city clean-up weeks to come in April.

Brazil said one of his functions as county sanitarian is to check back on rabid animals in the county confirmed through Kansas State University and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to report on their final case dispositions. He said rabies outbreaks in Marion County in recent years typically have occurred in eight or nine square miles areas in both wild and domestic animals.

Dallke told Brazil that if transfer-station employees are too busy to fix transport tires, he would like to see the county road and bridge truck down there to fix them. He would like it to be visible to the public because he has received complaints of private businesses there to fix tires.

Emergency and Communications Director Michelle Abbot-Becker reported Homeland Security funds to Marion County for 2005 will total $256,831. She explained that receipt of funds runs a year behind allocation with 2004 funds just now available.

She said funds may have to be adjusted for such things as haz-mat teams which can’t be maintained alone by a rural county such as Marion, but might have to be run regionally.

Dallke called upon Abbot-Becker to make a check of the county’s radio system to insure that all emergency personnel have radios programmed and accounted for.

Abbot-Becker reported the 911 project moving ahead with first use of equipment possible in June.

County Attorney Susan Robson and County Treasurer Jeannine Bateman received permission from county commissioners to move ahead with plans for a tax-foreclosed property sale with first step title updates.

Robson said potentially the sale could include up to 116 properties, but usually most of the owners of those properties will pay back taxes and fees before a sale. Property owners are given 20-30 days for redemption before final title search is made.

The commissioners made final award of bids for 2,4-D for noxious weed department roadside use at $8.55 a gallon for 120 gallons totalling $10,260, and for 2,4-D for customer sales at $8.94 a gallon for 1,500 gallons totalling $13,410 both to Markley Service of Marion.

Noxious Weed Director Bill Smithhart reported that bids submitted through Cooperative Grain of Hillsboro and Agri-producers at Tampa actually were from a McPherson dealership with permission from the two cooperatives unknown, and the money would have gone back to McPherson.

The commissioners disallowed the dealer’s bids to keep business in the county although they said they would welcome bids from the cooperatives in the future.

Smithhart said for lack of a noxious weed control contract with the Kansas Department of Transportation for highway siding weed control, he may have to notify the agency of problems just as he does any other private land-owner.

The commissioners approved a state-financed $454,000 contract with the Ellsworth firm of Kirk and Michael for replacement construction of the bridge over the Cottonwood River below Marion Reservoir.

Acting Road and Bridge Supervisor Jim Herzet reported pricing of uniform leasing of hats, shirts and jackets for the road and bridge crew came in at $8,800 annually, which is $4.70 a week each for 36 men.

The commissioners reiterated needs to meet for upcoming seasonal road planning, and for possible hiring of a county economic director.

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