Commissioners temporarily award bid for courthouse window project

Gerken Environmental of Springfield, Mo., was tentatively awarded the bid Monday to restore the historically approved county courthouse windows at $425,000 plus other expenses that might arise.

Before the Marion County Board of Commis­sioners made the decision final, Chairman Randy Dallke asked overseeing contractor Treanor Architects of Topeka, represented by Ian Pitts, to check the Gerken’s credentials and history.

Dallke said he had never heard of the company, but would feel more comfortable if they had a history of doing such projects.

Dallke and Commissioner Dan Holub approved the bid in the absence of Commis­sioner Lori Lalouette, who did not attend the meeting.

County firefighters from Hillsboro certified in water rescue were asked by Dallke to present their thoughts on water rescue certification for fire departments in the county. The firefighters cautioned they have not yet had a chance to present the program to the other fire depart­ments.

Matthew Vogt from the Goessel Fire Department said he was at the meeting to monitor the presentation for other departments who were not yet aware of it.

Dallke acknowledged that he had not allowed time for Hillsboro to present the water rescue to other departments because he was so enthused about what it could do to help save human life in the county.

Ben Steketee, fire chief at Hillsboro, said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Marion Reservoir is interested in cooperating with fire departments for any needed rescues.

The chiefs said the county’s share of more than $50,000 for two rescue craft that could be backed on a trailer drawn by a fire engine might have to wait until departments can conclude being outfitted with uniform radio equipment.

Rusty Moss said both he and Matt Hein of the Hillsboro Fire Department have been trained for 24 hours with the University of Kansas and the Emporia Fire Department in flood and swift water rescue.

He also has been trained in boat safety and rescue operations and ice rescue for 16 hours each with the Mission Township Fire Department near Topeka.

Moss said nearly 90 percent of Marion Reservoir’s surface is within his department’s primary rescue area. He said he feels that drowning in past could have been mitigated if the department had had the outfit at that time.

The commissioners asked Department of Aging Coordinator Gayla Ratzlaff to help develop a program of sending only the county’s monthly share of health insurance premium to the North Central Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging to replace state funding to help avoid any situation where other counties might not participate but the agency would take Marion County’s full share anyway.

The commissioners approved cooperating in acquiring three drone aircraft for a county share price of $2,000 a year to be used by Emergency Management Director Randy Frank for aerial emergency mapping and by Sheriff Robert Craft for investigations.

Frank said his photography would be publicly available, but Craft’s would not be for reasons of legal security.

Frank said the major cost of the planes would be borne by the county’s aerial mapping service as a benefit to them. He estimated the planes at 45 pounds each with a cruising speed of 20 mph.

Marion County Conser­vation District personnel asked the commissioners for unchanged budget amounts for 2017, but also discussed a new tree replacement program where second growth varieties like elm and mulberry would be removed on cooperating farms in favor of native hardwoods like oak and walnut.

The commissioners approved a road and bridge transport fuel bid of $13,450 for 5,500 gallons of diesel and 2,500 gallons of gasoline from Cooperative Grain & Supply of Hillsboro over a competitive big of $13,720 from Cardie Oil Inc. of Tampa.

They approved a showing of the movie “Jaws” for young people after dark in swim suits at the county lake who will run into the water in their swim suits inside a barrier of water craft every time sound effects indicate the shark is approaching.

Park and Lake Director Steve Hudson said it is planned as a fun, if unusual, event.

Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman said Marion County will cooperate with a Chisholm Trail horse trail ride out of Texas along Highway 81 through Kansas even though the historic trail came through Marion County.

They reviewed a budget request by County Appraiser Ray Cook unchanged from last year, met for 15 minutes in executive session with Planning Director Emma Tajchman for personnel, and in two five-minute executive sessions for personnel with County Clerk Tina Spencer.