Citizens voice concerns about road and bridge issues

Members of the public brought issues before the Marion County Commission Monday that commissioners attributed primarily to poor communications on the part of the road and bridge department personnel.

The commissioners apologized to both sets of patrons involved, and promised corrections.

Aaron and Angela Allen told commissioners they were only given a 30-day notice by the road and bridge department that they would be required to sell land for a new bridge on 140th, just west of U.S. Highway 77.

They said they felt pressured to sell, and with large trees that will be removed, including a black walnut in front of a house where the bridge is, they don?t want to sell.

They asked the commissioners to stop the project.

Instead, Commission Chairman Randy Dallke called the Kansas Department of Transportation to see if the Allens could be given 45 days to negotiate a price for the land, with the county remaining within its five-year plan for bridge construction.

Commissioner Bob Hein explained that the county has to stay compliant with the plan it has outlined.

Commissioner Dan Holub noted that the bridge is necessary for modern transportation because the bridge it will replace is too narrow for vehicles and equipment to go over it. ?It?s a safety thing,? he said.

The commissioners went into a 20-minute executive session with the Allens to discuss price and terms for the land with a figure of $4,500 mentioned.

Aaron Allen said he isn?t as interested in the money as he is in preservation of the property.

Mr. and Mrs. Joe Nowak told commissioners they returned to their home in Pilsen a month ago to find that a road and bridge department worker had gone down the alley on the north side of their home and severely trimmed back their cedars with a side mower, destroying its windbreak value.

Joe Nowak said they were not informed or asked in advance. He said a neighbor had asked the road and bridge department to trim the trees. He also said that according to his attorney, the alley is not county property and the road and bridge department didn?t have the right to trim the trees.

Dallke promised the situation will be researched with a consultation by County Attorney Susan Robson concerning who has rights to the alley. Dallke said the county will ?make it right? with the Nowaks if it is at fault.

Dallke, who also works for Atlas Gas, said the company wants to offer to bring in materials to further cover its line that runs down the middle of Sunflower Road into Marion?s Walnut Street. He explained that repeated road gradings plus four-wheelers on the road have cut the topping over the line that helps supply Marion and Peabody.

Dallke said since Sunflower Road is a minimum maintenance road, the company requests that the county ease off grading to preserve the line.

Dallke also requested that at least one other commissioner inspect the line.

Dallke said an individual contacted the Commission last week to ask for a letter of recommendation for wind farming electrical generation in the county. Dallke said a letter has been provided saying the commissioners favor wind farming as long as it is in the ?overlay area? designated by the county planning and zoning board.

Dallke explained that for a wind farm permit, a company would have to go before the planning and zoning board for approval whether within the overlay area or outside it.

Scot Loyd, consulting auditor for the county with the firm of Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk & Loyd, asked the commissioners to consider hiring an auditor outside his firm to enable him to deal more directly with county problems.

In presenting the annual audit to commissioners, Loyd said the area of deficiency he is required to note are failures to cross-check money between individuals. Because counties like Marion County are too small to hire sufficient people to avoid this, he said there is no cause to suspect wrong-doing.

County Clerk Carol Maggard said reports from the treasurer?s office show cash on hand for the county on Aug. 31 at $8,881,564.88. There was $2,310,091.59 in the general fund and $1,232,037.06 in the road and bridge fund. Motor vehicle expenses for the month were $1,591.01.

Hank Schockley gained approval from the Commission, as well as getting approval for his neighbor, Ron Waggly, for both to install boat docks at Marion County Lake. The proposition was first ok?d by former Park Director Dale Snelling. Hein said he didn?t ?have any problem? with the request since the sites in question are where former docks were removed.

Dallke said the county has a policy in limiting the number of docks to preserve the atmosphere of the lake. He said dock owners should be aware that members of the public can also use privately-owned docks for boats and fishing.

The commissioners approved a low bid of 4.24 percent interest from Pilsen State Bank to finance a lease-purchase of a Ford Fusion for Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman.

Competing bids were 4.74 percent from Marion National Bank, 4.75 from Citizens State Bank of Goessel, 4.95 percent from Cottonwood Valley Bank of Florence, and 5.975 percent from Central National Bank of Marion.

Rollin Schmidt, transfer station, household hazardous waste and noxious weed director, said Marion County was turned down for a grant by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to start a recycling program.

He and the commissioners said they will probably investigate starting a recycling program anyway because it would directly pay off in fewer loads of municipal solid waste transported to the landfill and reduce county hauling and tipping fees.

Markley Service of Marion was awarded a $2,756 bid on noxious weed herbicides for two 120-gallon units of 2, 4-D amine and 40 gallons of Surfactant. Com?pet?itive bids were for $2,856 from Ag Service of Hillsboro and identical $3,217 bids from the co-ops at Hillsboro and Tampa.