Commission hears good news, bad news about solid waste

The Marion County Commission Monday got the good news first -closure of the old landfill southwest of Marion is complete.

But then came the bad news-the City of Hillsboro hasn’t paid its commercial and demolition waste disposal bill to the transfer station.

Hillsboro City Manager Steve Garrett told the commissioners his city won’t be paying that bill of $7,966.88 without further chance to negotiate the price. Garrett said Hillsboro wants the county to take into account how much money it saves the county with its recycling program as a way to trade off on the cost of the C&D waste disposal.

After some discussion, the commissioners agreed to talks between Garrett and David Brazil, transfer station manager, with some sort of agreement in place by the Nov. 7 Commission meeting if not before.

That was not before Commissioner Dan Holub appeared to take umbrage with Garrett and Hillsboro, saying the city appears to be willing to incur expenses without paying, and stating that the Commission has to be “equitable to all” cities and waste handlers in the county.

Garrett, starting a couple of statements with the words, “Well, Commissioner,” said that he didn’t like the tactic either, but it was worth it if that’s what it took to get the county to talk.

Garrett said the negotiations actually were supposed to begin two-and-a-half years ago between the county’s consulting attorney in Topeka, Jim Kaup, and the city’s attorney. He said the two attorneys never came up with a settlement, although he and Brazil agreed that Kaup pronounced the talks settled at one point.

Garrett said that Hillsboro’s recycling program took in 190 tons of waste last year, and 189 tons the year before that. That saves the county transfer station $30 to $35 a ton in waste disposal, and the city should be receiving a credit for it, he said.

Commissioner Randy Dallke noted, with confirmation from Brazil, that all other cities and private haulers to the transfer station are paid to date on their C&D bills.

Holub said any negotiations ought to include other cities and haulers, too.

Commission Chairman Bob Hein said the first order of priority would be to solve the dispute.

Brazil said he would like to see recycling encouraged

Garrett took note that Peabody does recycling.

Everybody agreed that the objective should be to make, in Garrett’s words, “it better for all of us out there,” and the best way to start would be in discussions between Brazil and Garrett.

Jack Chappelle, consulting engineer for the county on closure of the landfill, said the long ordeal in closing the landfill, including years when the county had a lawsuit against it by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to force closure, is at last over. KDHE from here will probably only send its area inspector around from time to time to inspect the site after approval of his final report, he said.

Chappelle provided the commissioners with contour maps of the landfill that showed the structure and its drainage in a much more uniform, consistent style.

Chapple noted that drainage from the landfill will go into a wetland area left from removing 80,000 to 90,000 cubic yards of dirt for the covering. Since most of this is shallow, he would expect it to hold water only part of the time, and to be covered with trees eventually as a wildlife area. He suggested the commissioners might want to consider a minimal use arrangement of the area perhaps with something like bird watchers groups that would include nature trails.

Chappelle said costs would be kept minimal for the county if it used the landfill area only for such minimum impact activities.

The landfill cover has been seeded to grass, he said.

The commissioners said they would want the entire area seeded to grass to help keep weeds from overwhelming it.

Chappelle had two change orders that added costs to the closing. The first was $2,440 for final dirt compaction requirements that weren’t known when the original contract was made.

The second was $1,020 for 620 yards of material moved by Unruh Excavating to provide added contour on formerly covered landfill.

Both charges were agreed by commissioners and Chappelle to be reasonable, and done better than the county could have done with its own equipment. They were approved by commissioners.

Chappelle expected to have final cost figures on the landfill late Monday after final study of field estimates.

The commissioners approved a national incidents management system plan that requires military style federal guidance in order for the county to continue to receive Homeland Security funds.

Michele Abbott-Becker, director of communications and emergency management, said the NIMS plan might also result in greater mutual aid among local governments in the event of disaster.

The commissioners approved of Abbott-Becker pursuing a wireless communications grant that might be used for mapping.

Abbott-Becker said computer equipment housed in the jail was endangered by a backup of sewer water apparently caused by an inmate flushing a towel down a toilet upstairs.

Sheriff Lee Becker said charges will be brought against the inmate for the incident.

Dale Towers, director of Mid-Kansas Community Action Program Inc., and Lynn Unruh, Marion Chase Counties coordinator for the program, shared information with the commissioners to help them understand the organization’s commitment to help people move out of poverty.

Towers said 25,000 people in the agency’s territory, which also includes Cowley, Sumner, Harper, Kingman, Reno, Harvey, Butler and Greenwood counties, live below the federal poverty level of $18,750 for a family of four.

Mid Cap helps people with programs for providing food, financial help, housing and education as well as the Head Start program for pre-school children.

Unruh said she works closely with other local agencies to provide for clientele.

Tony Epp of Goessel spoke to the commissioners in opposition to a new jail that might be used to house prisoners for pay from other counties.

Epp contended the jail would bring into the county a class of citizens from prisoners’ families who might be of such a predatory nature as to become law-breakers themselves. He said prisons are built to house attorneys’ clients rather than for justice, and become places of “higher learning” for criminals to learn more about the trade from other criminals.

He said that by approving the jail, the commissioners would be yielding to a spirit of deterioration in the nation that seeks more public money rather than upholding a spirit of responsible liberty.

The commissioners approved purchase of two gravel trucks with beds for road and bridge at a cost of $183,090 after rebates and government discount.

Low bidder on financing the trucks was Tampa State Bank at 4.073 percent. Other bidders and rates were Marion National Bank, 4.390, Pilsen State Bank, 4.390, Cottonwood Valley Bank, 4.410, Hillsboro State Bank, 4.469, Central National Bank, 4.49, Citizen State Bank, 4.65, Peabody State Bank,4.740, IHC, 4.78, and Community National Bank, 5.210.

Jim Herzet, road and bridge director, said the department will keep one used truck, and sell another.

The commissioners approved a bid of $16,955 by Cooperative Grain of Hillsboro for transport fuel that included 3,500 gallon in Tank 3 at $2.245 a gallon for $7,857.50, 1,500 gallons diesel in Tank 1 at $1.985 a gallon for $2,97750 and 3,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline at $2.040 for $6,120.

Comparative per gallon bids respectively on a competitive bid from Cardie Oil of Tampa for $17,994.10 were $2.3714, $2.1154 and $2.7137.

The commissioners approved adaptation of the county strategic plan.

They approved a resolution amending the employee’s cafeteria flexible benefit plan to appoint an administrator at $100 a year.

They reappointed Robert Maxwell to the Community Corrections Advisory Board for both juvenile and adult for the 8th Judicial District.

Holub and Hein accepted an invitation from Lincolnville to appear in its Octoberfest parade, but Dallke had to decline for medical reasons.

The commissioners approved the register of deeds turning over recently discovered documents such as school record books and teacher certifications to the Tabor College archivist for preservation under a previously agreed to program.

They approved County Clerk Carol Maggard seeking grant money for courthouse window repairs and basement cleanup including such things as mold removal.

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