Bidder?s honesty earns commissioners? respect

One man?s honesty had Marion County?s commissioners, during their Monday meeting, saying they would feel highly comfortable dealing with him in the future.

Jeff Berger of Van Keppel Co., headquartered in Kansas City, first had to acknowledge to the commissioners he had overlooked assigning written trade-in values for the county?s two 1989 road graders in making a sealed competitive bid against bids from Foley Equipment Co. of Wichita and Murphy Tractor & Equipment of Kansas City.

His bid on the Volvo road graders his company deals in was $194,350 each. Plus that, the commissioners said the county has never owned Volvo graders, although they were assured running quality is equal to other brands.

Both other companies had allowed $15,000 each on trade-ins of worn road graders. Foley bid $196,474.99 and $191,191.88 on different models of Caterpillar graders, and Murphy bid $191,975 on John Deere models.

After lengthy contemplation by the commissioners, Commissioner Randy Dallke altered the proceedings by moving to give Van Keppel the bid if the company agreed to a bid of $180,000 per road grader, giving the $15,000 each on trade-ins.

After a few minutes deliberating, Commission Chairman Roger Fleming voted with Dallke while Commissioner Dan Holub voted against.

Berger?s response seemed to surprise them. He had been authorized to take a bid of $174,350 per road grader giving $20,000 each on trade-in values, he said.

He hadn?t spoken up during the deliberations, he said, because it wouldn?t have been fair to the other companies to do so, under bidding rules.

The commissioners accepted the offer, negating their former approval, and even the representatives from Foley and Murphy left smiling.

After conferring with Emergency Management Director Randy Frank and representatives from the state regarding July and August 2013 flooding, Dallke said, ?The biggest thing we learned today is how to prepare for the next one.?

Steve Harsha and Sam Smith with the Kansas Department of Emergency Management said they are working in multiple Kansas counties to obtain Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster funds for flooding from rainfall that totaled 15 inches in Marion County in just one day.

The two officials acknowledged it can be maddening for county officers to work with FEMA because the agency can send representatives on limited stints multiple times,with each of them asking for identical paperwork.

Road and Bridge Director Randy Crawford said his department doesn?t have the manpower and equipment to wait to deposit broken trees in to-be-determined FEMA-designated areas when they must get the roads open and repaired as soon as possible.

He said area farmers are usually happy to accept the burned tree ash and coals on their fields to restore needed minerals.

The commissioners agreed the main thing in the future is to focus on disaster aid for everything else, and let road and bridge deal with broken trees on its own.

The two state officials said it looks so far like the county will be reimbursed $27,000 for washed-out road culverts and about $200,000 for labor, equipment and materials on washed-out roads.

The commissioners asked Transfer Station director Rollin Schmidt to begin planning for designs on a new transfer station to be located outside of town at the county south shops.

They said they would also look at the possibility of moving the county road and bridge garages to the same location with possible transfer of ownership of the shops in town through purchase by the city of Marion.

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