Fuel cost prompts road maintenance cutback

Marion County road graders have been limited to a two-day work week for this summer to try to conserve on fuel that continually getting more expensive.

Randy Crawford, county road and bridge director, told the county commissioners Monday that by reducing hours, the county is following the lead of the Kansas Department of Transportation, which has a limited 10 percent of its road maintenance machinery engaged in a given day to save money. KDOT?s approach will change only if special needs arise.

Crawford said that it?s important for taxpayers to understand that they may not be able to have new rock on roads or maintenance done as quickly as they?d like ?because the money is just not there.?

As if to illustrate his point, the commissioners approved a $28,170 road and bridge transport fuel bid for 5,500 gallons of diesel and 2,500 gallons of unleaded gasoline from Cooperative Grain & Supply of Hillsboro over a competitive bid of $28,227.50 from Cardie Oil of Tampa.

Commission Chairman Dan Holub said he didn?t have the fuel bid history on hand, but the bid was either a record for the county or close to one.

Trailer renters

Eleven residents of Marion County Park and Lake met with the commissioners to try to finalize mobile-home rental terms. They seemed to agree with commissioners that in their next meeting with them, they would increase their rental fee for trailer lot space, including utilities, from $1,050 to $1,200 per six-month season for three years with increases only if the price of utilities go up.

Holub said he didn?t think the figure was enough, but he would go along with commissioners Randy Dallke and Roger Fleming in accepting the settlement.

Karen Spinder said she has been trying to sell her trailer at the lake, and the delay in reaching agreement has diminished her interest in it?even during big events like Saturday?s large marshmallow roast.

Jim Bratt said he and his wife have had a trailer at the lake as a get-away from the problems of congestion in Wichita and have had plans to retire there permanently. But, he said the situation has them reconsidering that idea.

Bratt said the trailer residents are an important asset to Marion County because they spend from $300,000 to $500,000 annually with local merchants. When it comes to events and activities, he said, the residents tend to consider themselves members of the community.

Fleming said the county needs to set a precedent by increasing rent for the trailers at a moderate pace, and appreciate what the trailer owners contribute to the county.

Dallke said he is pleased to note that lake trailers have been enhanced in value and appearance over the past 25 years.

Bratt said trailer owners have a sense that it?s important to improve the homes, and do good maintenance.

Other business

County Treasurer Jeannine Bateman said vehicle registration and licensing services will be closed in her office April 5-9 to test a new mandated system with the state.

The services will be down again May 1-6, she said, while the system is converted.

In separate sessions, the commissioners met with Tim Ogelsby of Blue Cross Blue Shield, the county?s current health insurer, Keith Schrag of Moundridge, independent health insurer, and Lauren Kemp of Wichita, also an independent insurer, to consider health insurance alternatives for county employees.

Ogelsby recommended against self-insurance plans because the county might encounter higher expenses while needing to work with someone such as himself.

The commissioners have asked that specifics of the plans not be released until they can make selections.

Department on Aging Coordinator Gayla Ratzlaff said she has had success with wellness classes open to the public at Parkside Homes in Hillsboro. The classes probably will be repeated at other locations.

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