County roads critical, but funding is lacking

A look at Road and Bridge Department needs Monday by the Marion County Commission revealed that many are critical to the well-being of a rural county but difficult to finance.

For instance shop foreman Tom Holub said so many early ice storms have depleted the county?s store of road salt that was supposed to be good for an average winter.

A truck traveling 30 mph can disperse a load of salt in three or four hours, and then it?s back to the storage area for more salt, he said, with 45 pounds going up each mile and increasing that to 80 or 90 pounds total coming back.

Ninety tons of salt can cost the county $1,000.

Holub said an attempt to improve spreading with liquefied salt instead of granules had only resulted in weather taking the salt from the roads to create problems with a half-frozen slush at the shoulders.

The commissioners told Tom Holub to stay stocked on salt because salt on the roads can help avoid loss of human life.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke and Road and Bridge road sign director Jesse Smith are going to look at the new road signs in Butler County that are fastened without visible bolts or screws to prevent thieves from taking signs with popular names like ?Mustang.?

The commissioners told Smith to proceed with spending $35,000 to replace missing yellow diamond hazard signs and traffic direction signs on 110th to Highway 56 and over to Nighthawk.

The commissioners decided that Road and Acting Bridge Director Jesse Hamm should wait to use four concrete boxes to replace rural road bridges until they decide the best locations for their uses.

Hamm said he will show the commissioners a seldom-used rural road where a farmer has begun tilling across the old road surface.

Dallke said the road should probably be abandoned by the county.

Commissioners told Hamm to purchase two 60-foot railroad cars priced at $250 a foot that can be used as stream culverts on rural roads.

The commissioners also told Hamm to proceed with a program to resurface blacktop roads on a revolving four-year program to halt deterioration when cracks first begin showing in the surface.

South Central Kansas Economic Program Manager Christie Henry and Weatherization Director Jodi Suhler described a multiple economics financing program available to the commissioners and a half dozen city officials in the county.

Asked how a small town like Lyons was able to secure more than a million dollars in programs from the agency, Suhler said it was because he requested it and went though the regimen of filling out paperwork.

Henry said SCKEDD both wants to create and maintain employment in the 14-member counties through loans and financial assistance, and through grants.

It administers everything from Small Business Administration loans to the rural guaranteed loan program, she said.

Henry said the agency has pending loans here, plus in the last five years has closed four loans for Hills?boro e-community, two loans for Marion e-community, loaned $107,000 to two businesses from SCKEDD funds, sponsored a network Kansas application for a business, and administer Marion County microloans.

It does many other programs including housing rehabilitation.

Interim Emergency Medical Services Director Ed Debesis said he met with all county emergency personnel in a collective meeting Jan. 16 to help begin standardizing and coordinating units.

EMS personnel will be issued identifying shirts and later on pants that they will wear to activities, although it?s understood they will wear their own clothing in emergency situations to reduce response time.

The commissioners met in executive sessions for personnel with Debesis for a total 35 minutes.They met with Hamm for personnel for 10 minutes.

In the Jan. 19 commission meeting, Carol Duerksen, Greg Washmon and Dwight Flaming, trustees for the board of Menno Township, said the township would donate $2,300 to the county to help replace intersection post signs.The township board members said the sign maintenance is vital to ambulance directions.

They also want to highlight maintenance issues on Kansas Highway 150.

The commissioners decided to allow Planning and Zoning Director Tonya Richards a full-time assistant after a 15-minute executive session for personnel.

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