Commissioners offer support for wind-turbine acreage

The Marion County Commis?sion gave rural Florence resident Rex Savage and his neighbors a new letter of support Monday in their efforts to add a 14,000-acre area for electricity generating wind turbines north of U.S. Highway 50.

Savage said the area, called the Doyle North Wind Energy Development, has been progressing steadily.

Supporters of the effort have been reluctant to say much about it to protect their efforts.

Savage said DNWED has filed necessary papers, such as an environmental impact statement that states that even though the area is a major bird habitat, few birds would be injured by turbines.

DNWED is south of 140th Road, north of U.S. 50, west of U.S. Highway 77, and east of Pawnee Road, Savage said.

The letter would not be an endorsement by the commission, he said, but merely proof that he had appeared before commissioners and that they were aware of the project.

Savage received approval from County Attorney Susan Robson for amended wording during the session.

The commissioners approved the letter 3-0.

The commissioners presented County Health Administrator Diedre Serene with a plaque of appreciation from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in recognition of her work in implementing and directing H1N1 immunization programs for counties, cities and school districts in the region.

Transfer Station Director Rollin Schmidt and the commissioners said they are receiving increasing support from county residents to do more single-stream recycling as a way to reduce the county?s solid waste load that goes to Butler County Landfill.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said reducing the solid waste load through recycling is the only way he can think of to reduce the solid-waste assessment for citizens in the future.

He estimated the trash burden could be reduced 10 to 20 percent by recycling.

Schmidt said another thing that might create significant savings would be a county commercial and demolition landfill. The Butler landfill isn?t accepting tires any more without payment of fees, he said.

Schmidt said the transfer station last month disposed of 748.81 tons of municipal solid waste, 108.87 tons of C&D waste, 9.81 tons of white goods and 0.6 ton of tires.

There were 42 hauls of disposables, averaging 20.42 tons a load with a cost per ton of $37.29 for fuel, driver and tipping fees.

Road and Bridge Director Jim Herzet said he will ask Tri-County Telephone to keep in touch with him by e-mail for moment-by-moment road crossing inspections as the company installs microfiber line this month in the north end of the county.

The new line is designed to upgrade Internet service, and provide cable television.

Herzet expects Tri-County to begin installation at Ramona after finishing work at Dwight.

The commissioners approved purchase of a new road and bridge half-ton Ford truck from Hillsboro Ford for $22,570. Competitive bids of $24,330 for a Chevrolet came from Don Hattan, $27,180 for a Chevrolet Silverado from Midway Motors in Hillsboro, and $26,500 for a GMC from Midway.

Park Superintendent Steve Hudson reminded the public that if they bring fish minnows for bait from elsewhere to Marion County Lake, they must bring a receipt to show that the minnows came from a bait shop.

He said the rule is designed to prohibit introduction of fish that came from a stream or lake to help prevent the spread of zebra mussels.

Hudson said the state reported this week that zebra mussels have now spread to Council Grove Reservoir.

The commissioners authorized Hudson to remove two concrete block dressing rooms at the lake swimming area. Hudson said other facilities are available, and the old dressing rooms have become a problem because some persons use them as restrooms.

The commissioners also told Hudson to proceed with contacting lumber yards and native lumber saw mills for bids to replace bridge plank seating at historical picnic tables that have deteriorated over time.

County Treasurer Jeannine Bateman said her office might generate enough new money to hire a half-time person if the commissioners decide to authorize the office collecting fees for the International Registration Plan for semi-trucks.

The fees could come from any of the states, the District of Columbia or Canadian provinces. There are also talks with Mexico for that country to join the program, she said.

Three or four employees actually would have to be trained for the program to accept applications from truck drivers at any time, she said.

The discussion ended with Commissioner Dan Holub suggesting that commissioners talk to local truck drivers to see if it would be a service to them.

Appraiser Cindy Magill said oil and gas valuations may go up in the county when non-filing penalties are collected on one company that allegedly has used tactics to avoid county officials in more than one county.

The commissioners received budget estimates from the treasurer?s office, the appraiser?s office and the Marion County Soil Conservation District.

Early estimates are that those budgets will stay about the same when commissioners meet with consultant Scot Loyd later this month, although Magill said hers could go down after last year?s high-demand computer-assisted mass appraisal training.

The scheduled commission discussion of what has been discussed as a possible 8,000 square feet, million-dollar building for county offices and storage was deleted from the agenda because commissioners said they had nothing new to talk about at this time.

Dallke said he would welcome any requests from the public for tours of the health department building in downtown Marion. Further remodeling of that building would be the alternative to construction of a new building, he said.

Holub said an earlier quote that he is confident of a settlement that would give TransCanada Keystone tax funds to the county that have been forgiven for 10 years as incentive by the state should be amended. He said the correct word would be hopeful, not confident. The commissioners said a week earlier that such a large injection of funds might build both the office building and a jail.

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