Commissioners hear of rabies case

Diedre Serene, Marion County health administrator, told commissioners Monday that one case of rabies has been verified this year in a horse.

Serene said her department will do what it has always done in following up when rabies cases in animals are suspected, but she plans no other action unless commissioners change county policy.

Commissioners gave no indication they would change the policy.

“I hope animals will be vaccinated,” Serene said.

In another public health issue, Serene told commissioners the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently declared restricted water access at Marion Reservoir because of a blue-green algae infestation at Cottonwood Point. Under Corps rules, the restriction has been applied to the entire reservoir.

Although water movement and wind direction can disrupt an algae infestation, Serene said the Corps is required to restrict the entire reservoir, and the county has no authority to change that.

Serene told commissioners she is inclined to decline a request that the county acquire operation of early child care facilities offered by an unnamed entity, especially since it would require a$16,000 payroll increase for a county employee to move from part-time to full-time.

Randy Crawford, road and bridge director, said he is receiving calls from farmers who would like the county to trim trees along roads before they have to move tall combines down them for wheat harvest.

The commissioners authorized him to bid on an available high-quality truck with extension crane ladder. Such a truck could also reach the top of the courthouse tower for maintenance rather than hiring it done.

Holub said using the crane also would give a neater appearance than ripping trees with a backhoe from the ground.

The commissioners approved paying $1,026 million to contractors for rebuilding four miles of hard-surface road from Kansas Highway 15 into Tampa.

After a presentation by James Hedstrom, business account executive with U.S. Cellular, the commissioners authorized Crawford to proceed with a cellular phone contract with the company that should cut cell phone rates in half, and reduce the need for emergency radio use in the department.

Crawford said cell phones are in use in other county departments, too, which could further reduce costs under the new plan. Employees would be restricted to using the phones only for county work, he added.

The commissioners left open the possibility that additional phones could be added if needed.

Holub noted in business with Bill Bolin, executive director of South Central Kansas Economic Development District, that local governments and other entities seeking SCKEDD grants frequently are hiring consulting companies to seek grants when SCKEDD will do the work free.

He asked that cities and other government units take notice of this rather than accrue additional expense.

Bolin said persons who want to seek joint U.S. Department of Energy and Kansas Department of Health and Human Services grants for home energy use improvement should be aware that KDHHS has lowered the income range for persons in the program, and that formerly eligible persons may now make too much.

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