Commissioners hear of improvement in lake water

The quality of water coming into Marion Reservoir is improving.

The Marion County Commission Monday learned that the sediment load entering the reservoir from the North Cottonwood River has been reduced from 13,821 tons in 2007 to 4,954 tons in 2009, mostly due to conservation efforts monitored by Kansas State University.

Peggy Blackman, coordinator for the Watershed Restoration and Protection Studies program in the Neosho River basin, which includes the Cottonwood and Marion Reservoir, said a road-by-road survey has begun to identify best land-management practices already implemented, and what land needs treatment.

She said a pre-application has been made for a Natural Resources and Conservation Services innovation grant that would offer 100 percent cost sharing for implementing conservation practices and structures on unprotected land.

Scott Construction of Cottonwood Falls, Blackman said, completed work in March restoring a streambank where an old bridge is to be preserved west of Durham on land owned by Dennis Youk at a cost of $11,846.75.

The project includes seeding, mulching and planting willows. The Marion County share pre-approved by commissioners was $1,658.53.

Blackman said a grant to be applied for in 2011 for funds in 2012 will target French Creek.

Commissioners Randy Dallke and Dan Holub said the county probably will pay half if the Marion County Lake Improve?ment Association will also pay half of the estimated cost of $1,000 to paint ?Marion County Lake? on a new water tower. It depends on whether Park Director Steve Hudson has the money available from his lake budget, they said.

Commissioner Bob Hein was still absent because of illness.

Road and Bridge Director Jim Herzet handed the commissioners a book of photographs and information prepared by the consulting engineering firm of Kirkham & Michael, Ellsworth, to direct the Keystone Pipeline workers on an approved route through the county.

He said the book covers about 100 miles of roadways.

Herzet said there are continuing problems with farmers who till over county road ditches, causing them to clog and halt water drainage.

He said that under state statutes, the county can fine a farmer who does this $2,000 for ditch damage, plus charge him for ditch and road restoration, plus charge a survey for proper road and ditch location if the farmer is in the wrong.

The commissioners told Herzet they would support him in efforts to remediate such cases.

Dallke said the issue isn?t just about drainage but also public safety and government responsibility.

Herzet and the commissioners discussed a possible bid for a gravel truck listed on Purple Wave.

Following a teleconference discussion with a representative of Creek Electric, the commissioners approved an agreement with the company to repair damages done to the electrical system over time in the courthouse and the jail, and to detect possibly hazardous hot spots in the system.

The Creek representative said damages include small items such as a cover left off a junction box, or termination of a line without a protective box.

Chris Jost, Lehigh Township Clerk, discussed confusion over fire protection in the township and the city of Lehigh because of a lack of paperwork outlining responsibilities, a lack of leadership and what he sees as a lack of public interest.

Hillsboro Fire Chief Ben Steketee confirmed that a group of four townships has had a contract for fire protection since 1996. Steketee said the contract isn?t out of date, but it?s time the interested parties sit down to discuss it with each other again to develop procedures.

The commissioners said they were happy to act as intermediaries to help the fire departments, but what Jost discussed didn?t fall in their area of responsibility.

The commissioners approved a bid of $4,750 presented by Health Administrator Diedre Serene from Voth Construction of Goessel for drywalling, remodeling and repairing the health department building in downtown Marion.

They also approved Serene?s request to purchase a freezer and refrigeration alarm to alert personnel if vaccines are threatened by lack of cooling. She said the money would come from existing H1N1 flu funds.

Gayla Ratzlaff, director of the Department on Aging, said $46,000 in senior nutrition funds from the state, as well as matching federal funding, could be lost to Marion County if discussions in the Kansas Legislature turn to approved permanent cuts.

Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman said $12,800 in county microloan funds have been approved for a new business, and that $16,600 in microloan funds have been approved for expansion of an existing business.

In addition to these, there are two other businesses that have applied for funding, she said. Huffman added that she isn?t free to reveal who the businesses are yet.

Huffman said there are still ongoing discussions of future actions that would make the city of Florence an Amtrak stop on a proposed Kansas City to to Florence route.

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