Commissioners hear details about road accident

Marion County commis­sioners heard from Jesse Hamm, Road and Bridge superintendent, about an accident he and Jesse Smith were involved in Friday at Indigo and 160th Road when another motorist fell asleep.

“The truck was our hand-patching truck and was struck in the rear,” he said. “Insurance will be sending out an adjuster, but it’s probably totaled.”

Hamm said he and Smith were both wearing orange vests and the blinkers were on.

“We were continuously moving so it was hard to set up signage for that,” he said.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke asked Hamm what he learned from the experience.

“It makes me nervous having only one guy out there now,” Hamm said. “If it wasn’t for Jesse Smith, I probably wouldn’t have jumped out of the way. It almost got (Smith) if he hadn’t jumped out of the way.”

Dallke said the patching is being done with a person’s back to the traffic a lot of the time.

“We were on the west side of the road first, and on top of the bridge fixing potholes, and we just finished when I saw a few more I could do on the east side of the road,” Hamm said.

“I asked (Smith) to turn around and we would finish the last two or three potholes, and I lost concentration as we were finishing. Jesse made a comment and I immediately jumped.”

After he regained his composure, Hamm said he ran to the other vehicle to make sure the other driver was safe.

“The other driver, Jackie Gage Jr. of Hillsboro, said he fell asleep and woke up right before making impact with our truck,” he said.

Commissioner Kent Becker said he can understand why Hamm is concerned about only one man doing the patching.

“That one man could have been you, and the whole scenario could have been different this morning,” Becker said. “We forget how much danger is really out there.”

Background checks

The commissioners talked about doing background checks on all employees, not just those in certain positions.

Novak said she personally calls references.

“I also think we should expand background checks by doing drug testing on new hires for criminal backgrounds.”

Another idea was to do pre-employment drug testing for everyone hired, Novak said.

The commissioners directed County Clerk Tina Spencer to gather information on the cost of random testing and new hires.

Revitalization

After reviewing commercial properties during a five-year period, Novak said she would also like to know the actual tax dollars the county loses with the neighborhood revitalization plan.

Becker said he didn’t want to stymie economic development activity by removing the commercial aspect.

The commissioners asked Spencer to provide the actual tax dollars not collected for commercial and residential projects.

Request for money

Donna Kaiser with the Marion County Park and Lake Chat and Dine Club requested $1,000 to replace boards on picnic tables.

“We still have some boards left that need to be replaced, but we wanted to get started and be done by Labor Day,” she said.

Funding for the picnic tables was taken from the park and lake budget, Spencer said.

Fire contract

Hillsboro City Admini­strator Larry Paine discussed a proposal that would be the least expensive way for the townships and city of Lehigh for the fire contract.

“May I suggest that you don’t necessarily have to make a decision today,” Paine said. “If it works for us through the Motorola plan, that’s fine, but if it doesn’t let me know.”

Becker talked about worst-case scenario, and Spencer interjected that the worst-case scenario would be if Hills­boro didn’t pay.

Paine said the city would pay the county $16,876 each of the first two years with a balloon payment of $53,738 at the end of the second year, which would make the county whole.

In the following years, Paine said the city would refinance in the third, fourth and fifth years.

“At this time, might as well find out who is all in, what they are paying and how they are all dealing (with the financing),” Dallke said.

Paine introduced Anthony Roy, Hillsboro’s new economic development director.

Dallke welcomed Roy to the county.

Other business

In other business, the commissioners:

• approved the transfer of the Dodge van to the sheriff’s office as a transport vehicle. Originally, the van was purchased for the county’s economic development department, which has been phased out.

• heard Dallke report the meeting last week in Dur­ham regarding 330th Road was productive because of interaction with landowners and hearing their questions about how fences will be addressed or if land will be paid for, Dallke said.

Discussion involved various ideas on how to repair the road. Hamm said he and Darin Neufeld, an engineer with EBH & Associates in Marion, were looking at a couple of design options, but it’s between using a slurry process or dry asphalt mix on the road.

Commissioners asked Hamm go back to Neufeld and come up with a plan as quickly as possible.

• approved continuing the practice of having cookies and coffee in the hallway on Mondays when the commissioners meet.

The subject came up during administrative business, with Spencer asking if the commission would fund these items.

• discussed repairs at the Marion County Park and Lake house for new superintendent Brian Metz.

Repairs or improvements included a deck overhang, eight feet of fence with sections, bids for carpet and work needed in the back of the house facing west.

Beck­er said a chimney person should look at the fireplace and some of the paneling was damaged by termites—but after spraying, the house is free of termites.

Dallke said Metz should put a list together of what is needed as an update.

• discussed with Hamm a six-month salary increase for an equipment operator II and equipment operator I.

Hamm said James Olsen is a new hire as supervisor of bridge and culverts.

• asked Hamm to contact the Kansas Department of Transportation about verifying if the contract they received is the standard covering both state and federal road and bridge inspections. The commission had questions about KDOT’s one-year agreement, and asked Hamm to find out why the county is getting a renewal if the agreement is automatically renewed annually.

Becker said he wanted to know if the county signed one of these agreements last year. Dallke said he also wondered if it was new.

County counselor Susan Robson said it could have been something the commission signed years ago and it renewed for several years.