Commissioners move forward on jail tower

The Marion County Commission pushed ahead Monday with plans to locate a more than 90-foot emergency dispatch tower at the new county jail along with plans for public tours of the jail in the near future.

The commissioners told Emergency Management Director Dan D?Albini to order the approximately $41,000 tower after Marion City Administrator Doug Kjellin, by letter, informed the commissioners that by administrative powers he was approving its exemption from zoning requirements.

Kjellin?s action was said to expedite the matter even though the city commission was prepared to approve it through voting.

The commissioners noted that the county and city must still give a 60-day period for public protest of the tower. The commissioners said the tower would be anchored to a concrete pad six feet from the jail with only a remote possibility that a wind event could cause it to fall on the nearest property, which is owned by Darvin Markley.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said he wanted to publicly express his appreciation by thanking Kjellin for his attitude in expediting the matter to benefit the entire county.

Commissioner Roger Fleming joined Dallke in saying thanks to Kjellin and the city commission for their help that will benefit the entire county as the matter will not be tied up in technicalities of law, which might have delayed a jail opening to the detriment of the entire county.

Commission Chairman Dan Holub said he could only concur with both Fleming and Dallke in expressing appreciation to Kjellin and the city for their help.

Dallke noted in discussion with D?Albini that the time needed for installing the tower would be expedited if the company has a tower on hand, but would be delayed perhaps up to 90 days if a tower still has to be made.

After listening to the proceedings, Markley asked the commissioners to consider a suggestion that it may be more cost effective, and still just as feasible for emergency communications in reaching all parts of the county, if the existing 20-foot tower on the old jail were moved to the new jail and used to relay dispatches to a taller tower at the road and bridge yard south of Marion.

Markley said the position could also be used to resolve a situation discussed earlier in the meeting about getting radio dispatches out of Florence as the city is at 300 feet lower altitude than Marion.

The commissioners thanked Markley for his insights, and said they would look into the alternative.

Emergency Communications Director Linda Klenda said a mobile unit is almost prepared for handling communications from the new jail until a tower is in place.

Sheriff Robert Craft said a Kansas fire marshal inspected the jail last week and found only minor corrections to be done before the new facility is ready for prisoner occupancy.

Craft said his staff moved file cases to the new jail, and made preparations on electronics with review of systems there last week.

This week, he said, the staff will be making transfers of evidence to the facility.

Craft said a public viewing of the jail will be made before any prisoners are transferred to it.

Joyce Olson, Colleen Hajek and Betty Richmond joined Road and Bridge Director Randy Crawford in discussing Union Pacific Railroad plans to change road crossings near their homes at 150th and 160th Roads by Aulne.

Olson said Union Pacific?s plan to dead-end 150th on either side of the tracks will make it very difficult for farmers moving equipment to fields in the area.

Hajek said Union Pacific?s plan to take acreage from their farm with payment only for the acreage will affect their income longterm in approaching retirement years because they will not be compensated for lost income from the land over a period as long as 50 years.

Dallke, with apparent support from the other commissioners, advised Hajek to attempt negotiating for the farm land to be lost, which currently is planted to soybeans.

He said the county has been offered $150,000 for the road closings, which should be used for road improvements in the district affected.

David Greiser, public affairs manager for the Kansas Department of Transportation at Salina, and Joe Pallic, local director for KDOT, outlined plans for a first-of-a-kind estimated $2.5 to $3 million roundabout with six acres for a diamond-shape route to accommodate large trucks at the junction of U.S. highways 56 and 77 and Kansas Highway 150 east of Marion.

Greiser said that junction is now the highest rated intersection for fatalities and accidents in Kansas.

Holub said, ?People here know these roads. They?ve seen kids and other people die there. You won?t get any protests here.?

The commissioners agreed to allow Tonya Richards, environmental health and planning and zoning director, to accept a two-year appointment to the Kansas Division of Water Resources flood plains management program.

All three commissioners agreed the appointment recognizes of the excellent quality of work Richards has been doing for the county

Dallke, however, also expressed concern by the commissioners that Richards continue work for Marion County as first priority.

Rollin Schmidt, noxious weeds, household hazardous waste and transfer station director, received agreement from commissioners that he should be reluctant to spray bindweed near residential areas at Marion County Lake.

They said the Lake Drive around the water and Lois Lane Road are county responsibilities for upkeep.

The commissioners told Schmidt they want him to attend a Kansas Organization of Recyclers meeting at Hays in November at an approximate cost of $120 especially to counsel with other county representatives on making recycling work.

Emergency Medical Services Director Steve Smith received approval for $3,303.18 in ambulance write-offs for non-paying customers from the commissioners.

Smith reported 87 ambulance calls for June including 15 from Peabody, eight from Florence, 27 from Marion, 35 from Hillsboro, and two from Tampa.

The included 20 transfers, 10 cardiac, 22 medical emergency, 13 standby, six falls and 16 no transport.

There were two first response runs from Goessel.

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