Engineer: Oil-price rise means costlier roads for county

The rising price of oil is affecting the cost of building roads in Marion County.

Consulting Engineer Mike Olson recommended to the Marion County Commission Monday that they raise their budgeting estimate for new overlays on hard-surface roads from $50,000 a mile to $60,000 a mile.

Olson said Marion County has two such roads slated for completion this fall. There are 14 miles of 2-inch overlay to be done on the Durham-Lincolnville Road and five miles to be done on the Peabody Road going south out of town.

The bids for these would be let, probably with about Oct. 20 as a late start date and completion scheduled by Thanksgiving, he said. Cold weather could cause delays.

Commission Chairman Bob Hein asked Olson “where we are” in finalizing an agreement with the Kansas Department of Transportation for the state to pay upgrades on county roads used for detour during U.S. Highway 77 rebuilding.

Hein said he would like to see where the agreement is at before the Commission moves forward with other road decisions.

Olson said negotiations started with KDOT considering mostly a hard surface of Sunflower Road, but other possibilities have come into play. No agreement has been finalized, he said.

Cooperative Grain at Hillsboro was awarded a $14,651 bid for road and bridge transport fuel over a $14,673.20 bid from Cardie Oil at Tampa, with the commissioners noting that fuel prices stay substantially above those of other years.

The Co-op’s bid included $5,700 for 3,000 gallons of diesel at $1.900 a gallon in Tank 3, $3,290 for 2,000 gallons of diesel at $1.645 a gallon in Tank 1, and $5,661 for 3,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline at $1.887 a gallon.

Comparable per gallon prices for the same quantities respectively from Cardie were $1.9017, $1.6447 and $1.8929.

The commissioners approved a county elderly department agreement with the North Central-Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging to hand out applications to persons over 60 to receive state grant funds assistance, with the agency helping seniors complete the paper work.

The commissioners plan to teleconference or meet next week with Jack Chappelle, consulting engineer on the closing of the old county landfill southwest of Marion, to verify who pays costs of unexpected developments during the closure.

Chappelle’s fees, expected to end up in the $40,000 range, could cover some contingencies, but there is concern the county could suddenly incur great expense for a new development.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said-as a for instance-that dirt movers who have started work covering the landfill could hit a spring. There could be expense in diverting or capping the spring.

Commissioner Dan Holub likened not knowing whose responsibility was whose “to waltzing through a mine field.”

The commissioners voted 3-0 to pay $15,000, the first 33 percent, to Unruh Construction for dirt moving and covering at the landfill.

The commissioners decided to wait on David Brazil, director of the transfer station, to see where in his budget approximately $13,500 could be pulled to repair the transfer station roof. They noted that there is no use in doing further improvements on the building until the roof is in good condition to protect improvements.

They approved Health Department Administrator Diedre Serene’s purchase of an office computer from Great Plains of Marion for $1,199 over competitive bids of $1,296 from Dell and $1,066 plus shipping from Gateway.

Serene explained that Great Plains would do the set-up no matter which company the computer was ordered from.

Serene said she isn’t comfortable with the level of liability the county may have in providing school-health nurse service to schools at Peabody, Goessel and Centre plus the special education Life Skill and Oasis schools at Florence.

She added that she isn’t comfortable with the way schools sometimes handle student medications.

Ideally, Serene said, a county health nurse would spend weekly one day at Peabody, a half day at Centre, a half day at Goessel, a half day at Life Skill and a half day at Oasis.

Hillsboro and Marion provide their own health nurses, she said.

Hein asked her to check with the school superintendents responsible to see if they support a greater school portion of costs.

Sheriff Lee Becker suggested that $60,000 of capital outlay in his proposed 2006 budget could be used to purchase four squad cars-with approximately 50,000 miles each-to replace sheriff’s vehicles with more than 200,000 miles each.

After a five-minute executive session with Becker, the commissioners asked him to have Deputy Jeff Soyez make arrangements to use 58 hours of accumulated vacation time.

Holub noted that water spraying Yarrow Road has been of very limited support in reducing dust during U.S. Highway 77 reconstruction.

Michele Abbott-Becker, director of communications, emergency management and 911, noted that last week her department received a record 170 emergency calls in one eight-hour period.

The commissioners agreed that Abbott-Becker should let a service agreement for the 911 generator with Detroit Diesel for $600 a year expire in favor of having county road and bridge do such services as oil changes and battery replacement.

Abbott-Becker discussed concerns in hiring a part-time 911 dispatcher in the $10 an hour range because it is difficult for an employee to retain skills at running the increasingly technical equipment without continual practice with it. She said a person would have to start full-time to learn the equipment.

The percentage of 911 calls from cellular phones continues to stay in a 5 percent range around 70 percent, Abbott-Becker said. The 3,201 calls reported in July were made 67.28 percent from cell phones.

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