Commissioners resume discussion on roads, bridges

The Marion County Board of Commissioners met Nov. 14 to discuss roads and bridges, a new noxious weed policy and hear a report on the future of Kansas counties.

During the afternoon session, commissioners canvassed the general election before finalizing results, which were not available at press time.

Prompted by a complaint from a landowner, Bud Druse, director of weeds, household hazardous waste, transfer station and recycling, wanted to talk about sending letters in the future.

The complaint centered on the landowner and hired hands not knowing that Druse was going to conduct an inspection, said Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said.

“(Druse) parked his vehicle and started inspecting the ground for weeds,” he said. “The landowner was upset that he hadn’t been notified.”

Since the incident, Druse said he has talked to the person.

“It’s just starting us with a new policy so that everybody knows that we will contact the landowner as to what dates Druse will be there,” Dallke added.

In response, Druse said: “Next year, just to be on the good side of people, I would like to draw up a letter,”

Dallke, and the other commissioners agreed.

“We need to get the word out to the public that it is our job as a county weed department to go out and survey to see if we are getting any noxious weeds in our different sections and different parts of our county,” Dallke said.

The new procedure will involve sending a letter to landowners informing them of particular dates the county will be on their property, Dallke said.

The state mandates that the county check for noxious weeds, he said.

“The state sends a list to the weed department of 10 sections, but in case we can’t do a particular section, there are reserve sections,” Druse said.

He said he likes to walk the land even though it takes more time.

But, Druse said, the county doesn’t want to tear up the field.

“I think that’s more than fair to landowners so they know somebody is trespassing, but it is our right,” Dallke said.

Druse said if the land­owner wants to know what they found, they will tell them.

The only time the information is sent off to the state is when it’s part of the annual weed report, he said.

“I take what I find, compile it all together and get an estimate of what I have, which allows me to estimate how much of this noxious weed we have in the county,” Druse said.

In other business, the commissioners:

• heard from Teresa Huffman, economic development director, about the future of Kansas counties based on a report received.

The information, she said was compiled by KU Institute for Policy and Social Research.

The “story map” identified original inhabitants, the Dust Bowl and how many people left the state up to 2015 and population projections from Wichita State University.

In addition, Huffman talked about the success of the Dodge City Ford County Development Corp.

• talked about the bridge east of Florence and a work estimate with bid letting for Nov. 16. He also talked about the bridge on the Dickinson/Marion county line and the quarry east of Lincolnville and concern about rock and dust control.

• reviewed the Fair Labor Standards rule change involving department heads.

Effective Dec. 1, there are some changes regarding which positions may be exempt for overtime, according to information presented.

Dallke said the salary threshold to be considered exempt is being raised from $23,660, which was the old standard, to $47,476 a year.

“Marion County is not in a position to raise everyone’s wages above the new threshold,” he said.

For those department heads below the threshold, it is likely those positions will be reclassified, making them eligible to earn compensatory time, according to the county’s personnel policy.

More discussions are planned in the near future and Dallke said the commission will work with the department heads in establishing a 40-hour work week.

Consistently working over 40 hours per week, he said, will not be allowed.

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