County moving toward April 2007 vote on jail issue

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
The Marion County Commission Monday directed Dan Hall of B.G. Consultants, with headquarters in Manhattan, to push ahead with planning what likely will put funding for a new county law enforcement center on the ballot for the April 2007, election.

The commissioners noted that what that election question will be is dependent on what kind of grant money and packages they can put together before then.

Chairman Dan Holub said commissioners are committed as much as possible to financing other than taxation.

Hall, architect for the project, said he would need 120 days to put together a package that granting and financing agencies could use for planning.

Hall said the commissioners will need to decide whether they are going for a 48-unit or a 72-unit jail pod facility, and whether they intend to include court, county attorney and sheriff’s offices with it.

What’s inside determines the final look of the outside and location needed for it, Hall noted.

The commissioners would have the facility built both to gain income by housing prisoners from other government entities plus to avoid any state action to close the current jail because it is outmoded and crowded, they said.

Hall has worked on the correctional facility idea since the commissioners first began discussing it. Even though, they talked of taking bids for another consultant just as a matter of financial responsibility, County Clerk Carol Maggard assured them that usually on county projects there is an advantage to going through to conclusion with the reputable consultant who began work.

Commissioner Bob Hein said, “Let’s let him do it. Let’s get moving on it.”

Sheriff Lee Becker and Commissioner Randy Dallke pointed out that a December finish for Hall will allow both time for financing and public education before the election.

“It’s too late for November,” Hein said.

Cash position

Maggard said the treasurer’s office reported county cash on hand as of June 30 at $8,094,704 with annual interest earned as of that date of $107,010.

The total included $2,025,387 in the county general fund and $1,561,089 in road and bridge.

County Treasurer Jeannine Bateman reported $1,702 in expenses from the motor vehicle fund.

Budget requests

Chuck McLinden, chair, and John Reznicek, representing the Marion County Fair Association for budget requests, asked for an increase from $14,700 to $15,700 in county funds.

Even though the fair last year produced $64,798 in revenue, Reznicek said expenses still ended with a $1,496 shortfall.

Reznicek said part of the shortfall was because of less than expected income from a normally big money maker, the demolition derby. He said the decline had been attributed to heavy rain during the derby.

But then the spring derby attendance in May also was down. Reznicek said there is some discussion on discontinuing the May derby.

The fair board also is discussing bringing in a different rodeo company that would attract more professional cowboys traveling the circuit to increase attendance, he said.

Zoning issues

Bobbie Strait, director of planning, zoning and environmental health, received approval from commissioners for hand delivery of a letter to the owner of a feedlot at the north end of Antelope Road, where drainage water goes into a county ditch to raise nitrate levels of a residential well.

The owner will be advised to pump water in a different direction pending further investigation by the county, she said.

The commissioners authorized Strait to move ahead with helping them in adapt a county nuisance code that would follow guidelines set by the National County Maintenance Code.

Among other things, adapting the code may allow the county to set limits on untagged, uninsured vehicles on rural property, or to condemn houses until they are repaired or demolished. Strait said repair of a home for more than 60 percent of its real estate value normally isn’t allowed under the code.

Legal services request

Attorney Ty Wheeler from Emporia asked commissioners for a $500 budget increase from last year to $3,000 to help his public legal services office help with domestic violence and disability cases in Marion County.

He said that last year his office helped with four successful disability cases to gain Social Security funds resulting in average monthly payments of $603 a month with $28,944 in direct income plus 36 months in past benefits due.

He also handled nine domestic and domestic violence cases.

Other business

The commissioners voted 3-0 to accept $40,250 in Homeland Security payments from the South-Central Security District to process invoices for all of the counties involved.

Michele Abbott-Becker, director of communications and emergency management, will handle the processing with checks issued through the clerk’s office. The commissioners also gave Abbott-Becker permission to merge the Communications Advisory Board into other boards with bylaws changed effectively to avoid duplication of emergency personnel on several committees.

The commissioners voted to contract with Gene Wilson, a former Southwestern Bell executive, to investigate telephone lines and bills for a potential 33 percent of annual savings from his findings.

Rollin Schmidt, noxious weed, household hazardous waste and transfer station manager, advised commissioners that they may someday want the county to operate its own commercial and demolition waste landfill because 20 to 30 percent of the waste shipped from the transfer station probably is construction and demolition waste.

That type of waste usually doesn’t require a landfill liner and some of the other technical needs of a solid municipal waste landfill, he said.

Schmidt said he needs to contract with an aerial sprayer for control of cerecia lespedeza growing on half of the old landfill southwest of Marion. He estimated the cost for the chemical that will be needed at $672.

The commissioners accepted a bid of $10,000 for a used road and bridge dump truck from Don and Leroy Kraus over an earlier received bid of $6,275.

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