Commissioners ask for information about NDS closing

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
The Marion County Commission Monday attempted to move ahead with promises the current commissioners seem to feel they came into office to accomplish.

The commission also decided after receiving news of Northview Development’s loss of its license to Kansas Social and Rehabilitation Services that it would continue funding the institution with $15,000 quarterly until representatives report in.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said many families will be stressed by the loss of Northview’s services for handicapped persons. He said he wanted to have representatives both from Northview and SRS before the Commission.

The commissioners wanted to change county planning to encourage more small acreage rural home building, and within their economic goals, they developed the idea of building a community corrections center to replace the old county jail.

They hired David Yearout of Baughman Co. PA from Wichita at $75 an hour for 10 hours monthly to act as consultant to the County Planning Commission.

Commission Chairman Dan Holub said the move would be less costly for the county than paying Topeka Attorney James Kaup for writing zoning language, although Kaup will be retained if legal problems ensue. He said Yearout’s help should also accelerate getting changes made.

Planning Commission Bob Maxwell said it seemed to him that local commission members could have done the same work themselves, and still saved Kaup’s legal help.

By contractual agreement, Yearout will attend Planning Commission meetings, present zoning issues to the Planning Commission and the County Commission, review plat applications, review general development related matters, and assist in writing amendments to zoning rules.

Holub was joined by Dallke in saying they felt frustrated in not making more progress toward more small acreage developments during two years in office.

Maxwell said, “I don’t see a consensus in the county” toward wanting more small acreage development, perhaps at best a 50-50 split on opinions of it.

Commissioner Bob Hein disagreed, saying he hears more people in favor of small acreage home sites.

Sheriff Lee Becker asked Yearout if he was the same consultant who had assisted in the 911 naming county roads system, implying with acknowledgement from others in the room that there was less than total approval of that job.

The commissioners said Yearout has done the best job in discussion of clarifying zoning considerations for them.

Representatives of Treanor Justice Architectural Firm with offices in Kansas City, Lawrence, St. Louis and Topeka, including former Douglas County Sheriff Loren Anderson, showed commissioners a brochure of modern jails and justice centers they have built in the region.

They said they could work with current architects BG Consultants of Manhattan at any time the commissioners want help in doing a Marion County facility.

Anderson, who was sheriff at the time such a facility was built at Lawrence, said the main problem there was that the county outgrew the facility it built, and is back to “farming out” prisoners in other counties.

He told the commissioners to make sure officers are fully trained in the use of a modern facility instead of falling into the trap of running it like the “1920s jail” they are used to.

Anderson said the commissioners have followed the right steps with BG, and in visiting a consulting program in Colorado.

He said Douglas County financed its corrections center with a half-cent sales tax.

Rollin Schmidt, noxious weed, household hazardous waste and transfer station director, outlined new ideas he is exploring for disposing of county waste, especially development of a recycling program and perhaps a commercial and demolition waste landfill.

Schmidt said the Kansas Department of Health and Environment would favor Marion County turning the old landfill it has just covered as a municipal solid waste disposal area into a C&D landfill. Schmidt said the construction materials disposed of plus some rock and soil would sink into the earth.

A C&D landfill isn’t regarded as highly hazardous and wouldn’t require the cover of a MSW landfill, he said. The county also has new land it could use at the 160 acres on the site.

Schmidt said a new transfer station could be built at the location, and the one inside Marion could be turned into a recycling center. The entire idea or a variation of it could reduce costs for Marion County, create more cash flow, and add jobs, he said.

The C&D also could be taken to McPherson County with a current disposal rate of $13.50 per ton compared to more than $20 at Perry. The transfer station would be redone to separate waste, he said.

Schmidt is talking to existing contractors and neighboring counties about recycling. He and the commissioners agreed that a program could be largely paid for by grant funds.

Schmidt will hold fall HHW pickups from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 23 at Lincolnville, Oct. 7 at Goessel, Oct. 14 at Peabody and Oct. 21 at Lehigh. He will have one from 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 30 at Tampa.

The commissioners took a bid that came back lower than its first billing, from $8,952 down to $8,349.60, from Continental Analytical Service for testing ground water at the landfill.

They approved a purchase of a 2002 Chevrolet Blazer at $9,348 from Irv Schroeder County Motors for zoning and sanitation use by the department head of both of those, Bobbi Strait.

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