Consultant explains state fire marshal?s visit to county jail

Consultants with Law Kingdon of Wichita, who also work with planning for a new community corrections center, were at the Marion County Commission meeting Monday to explain planning to commissioners for meeting state fire marshal requirements for the current jail.

Tony Rangel of Law Kingdon said the requirements include blocking fire access through vertical systems?such as heating conduits?and putting barrier walls between jail housing for humans and jail housing for inanimate objects.

Rangel said the Commission could ask the state for 90 days to complete the work. He added that the work wouldn?t be overly expensive, and ?could be done by local craftsmen.?

Rangel also said his firm needs the Commission to determine how much it wants in a community corrections center?for instance whether court facilities are to be included. He said he knows that the Commission is hoping to have all planning complete for seeking voter approval in the 2008 general election.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said the commissioners would need to check individually with background consultants, and then discuss the planning as a group.

County Economic Director Teresa Huffman told the commissioners she wants every town in the county to have a fund based on the model of the Hillsboro Community Foundation impact fund. Huffman said Hillsboro ?is way ahead of the game? in having a fund like this that enables the community to keep moving forward.

She said the fund, which at Hillsboro currently stands at $200,000, can be raised with contributions from anyone who has an interest in seeing the town grow, even alumni. For instance, she said, funds in even the smaller cities of the county, ?like maybe Tampa,? could be sought from Tampa alumni who want to see the town remain as a community.

?They might want to see their young people move back here to participate in the community after they leave school,? she said.

Only the interest from the Hillsboro fund is used to promote ideas by businesses and organizations that benefit the community, and the principal remains to generate new money, she said.

Huffman asked the commissioners to assume ownership of an easement being developed by County Attorney Susan Robson, in cooperation with the Shields family of Lost Springs, that would give increased public access to the spring from a kiosk and parking lot to be built on the north side of the road at the historic Santa Fe Trails spring west of the City of Lost Springs.

Huffman is joining the Santa Fe Trail Society to help promote signage and tourism along the old trail through the county from Lost Springs to towns such as Durham and Lehigh.

Commissioner Dan Holub said the state plans more signs pointing out trail routes from U.S. Highway 77.

Huffman said the current Marion County economic development Web site is a great resource for creating links to bring more tourists, many of them eager for new places to view old trail ruts.

She also is joining other organizations that could help bring business to Marion County. She expects new help for tourism with her involvement in Flint Hills RCD. That organization has agreed to hold its July 11 meeting in Lincolnville, she said.

Because of her willingness to help with regional meetings, Huffman said she also has been invited to join a Wichita area-wide economic group that could bring aircraft industry-related jobs to Marion County.

Peggy Blackman updated commissioners on the WRAPS funding she administers that is used for programs to extend the life of Marion Reservoir. Blackman said the $75,200 Marion County has committed to aid reservoir projects for this year may largely consist of in-kind work and equipment rather than cash contributions.

She said the Kansas Biological Survey will begin doing reservoir core sampling and analysis July 7 with $12,988 in WRAPS funds.

Blackman is working with $76,000 remaining of $94,000, much of it 2006 funds still not released to her from the state. She expects notice of funding for next year in mid-July.

She reported that because of higher rates of rainfall this spring, the blue-green algae problem at the Reservoir has been confined to small sections of the shoreline, according to Corps of Engineers personnel.

The commissioners signed required U.S. Department of Agriculture paperwork for Conservation Reserve Program native grass at the old landfill southwest of Marion, although the Commission is ineligible in its public governing entity status to receive funds that a farmer would.

The commissioners, after a 10-minute executive session, voted to pay the emergency medical services director $141 for on-call time.

County Agricultural Extension Agent Rickey Roberts told commissioners the 18 degrees freeze on Easter Sunday that wiped out a major portion of the wheat crop was the first major agricultural crisis in the few years he has been here.

The commissioners reviewed an extension budget that includes $121,566 in county money and $36,816 from Kansas State University.

County Health Department Administrator Deidre Serene told commissioners the first case of a disease contracted from a tick bite in Marion County has been confirmed this year. She urged any resident who has a fever or flu-like symptoms to tell their doctor if they also had a tick bite.

She said Marion County may co-pay for a new regional health person with Sumner and Reno Counties as partners in a salary estimated at $30,000 to $37,000.

The commissioners delayed decision on back-up computer extension hard drives for her department until the pay-day meeting Friday.

Dallke asked Road and Bridge Director Jim Herzet, who finishes his work with the department next week, to sit down with him to look at ?the agenda for the next 60 days.?

Holub asked him about adequate bases for county hard-surfaced roads that are broken down by semi-trucks and heavy farm equipment and loads.

Herzet said the best solution is temporarily covering roads with chip-and-seal surfaces to provide later base.

Zoning Director Bobbi Strait said salvage yard owner Dan King has appeared to meet most of the requirements for surveying and staking his yard for survey and required Kansas Department of Health and environment upgrade.

The commissioners approved a pay increase to 88 percent of county medium pay plan compared to a former 82 percent for Michelle Abbott-Becker, communications and emergency management director, because of her increased workload since the 9-1-1 attack.

The commissioners passed a resolution outlining late chargers for large haulers at the transfer station.

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