County asked to pick two bridges for replacement

Marion County Road and Bridge Director John Summer?ville told the Marion County commissioners to decide which two bridges will be added under the county?s five-year plan for replacement, and which roads will be scheduled for chip and seal surfacing this summer.

The two bridges tentatively to be added for rebuilding is one south of 220th on Falcon by Lehigh, and one on Clover a half mile north of U.S. Highway 50, which is done in cooperation with Chase County.

The commissioners will seek a meeting with Chase County commissioners on the latter.

In the meantime, they asked Summerville to meet with an engineer from the consulting firm of Cooke, Flatt & Strobel to write specifications for bridge additions for the state.

Summerville said he had 50 miles of county roads that need chip-and-seal with capability to do 30 to 40 miles this year.

The commissioners asked him to check on outside bids for chip and seal to allow the county crew to deal with more road needs.

Summerville said 12 miles of 190th from Marion to Hillsboro will need surfacing soon to avoid ?losing? the road. Other roads discussed included Quail Creek from Ramona, Indigo, the Aulne Road, and those at Marion County Lake.

Dallke said he wanted a letter from the county written to ATT telling them, ?We?re not tickled to death with your service,? after the company wanted to charge more and wait 50 to 60 days to move a telephone line for the county?s generator project because a gas line was in the way.

Instead, he said, Atmos Energy Inc. sent in people to move its line so ATT would proceed on time with its part of the project.

Dallke works for Atmos, so he knew the company?s policy. But that?s not the point, he said.

?I would hope that whether it?s our county?s employees, or a Marion County business, that we?re not so put out we can?t step up to help someone when they need it.?

The commissioners agreed to absorb liability insurance costs for contractors they are advertising for to mow the grass on the courthouse grounds.

County Clerk Carol Maggard and Michele Abbott, communications and emergency management director, reported possible lightning and electrical surge damage to electrical equipment at the communiations center in the jail, and in the courthouse.

Abbott said it reduced communications from two active work stations to one, and knocked out three frequencies.

?We lost a lot of equipment,? she said. ?The sheriff?s radio was so hot you couldn?t touch it.?

Abbott said the county and municipalities need to turn in losses and costs on the recent flooding and storm damage to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for reimbursement.

She and Steve Smith, Emergency Medical Services director, reviewed a ?red flag? community alert system which the county will administer under grants for networking emergency notification.

Abbott and Sheriff Rob Craft are planning for big events in the county this year that are expected to bring in unprecedented crowds.

Craft said it will require law enforcement and possibly other personnel to work overtime. He will ask for help from the Kansas Highway Patrol.

The first of these events will be the Symphony in the Flinthills, June 12-13. Abbott said that even though the syphony will be in Chase County, much of the center of activity will be in Florence.

Craft said county firefighters have three concerts arranged for the county fair, one of which is anticipated to draw around 10,000 persons.

Abbott said organizations benefitting from such events ought to be asked to help with funding of emergency personnel at future events because it?s a drain on budgets.

The commissioners approved a request from Gayla Ratzlaff, coordinator for the county?s Department for Elderly to have regular summer hours of from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

They also approved a one-time sorting of cans at the transfer station by adults, not children, for Girl Scouts to use as Christamas decorations.

Rollin Schmidt, transfer station, noxious weed and household hazardous waste director, said he doesn?t think the county can approve a request by another group to sort out aluminum cans at the transfer station because of agreement obligations with the paper and recycling company, Sunoco.

Appraiser Cindy Magill said she had 263 hearings with taxpayers protesting property tax this year compared to 408 in 2008, 380 in 2007, and 365 in 2006.

Dallke said he thought Magill and her crew do a good job, but he feels the numbers going down is more an indication that ?people are tired of the headache of fighting it? when computers, comparative sales and needs make it certain their property tax will go up.

Dallke said, ?They figure, why come to the judge who wrote you the ticket? It?s an unfair tax, and they think they can?t fight it.?

The commissioners said state property-tax programs frequently are created to work better in urban counties therefore creating a disparity with the rural.

Magill said home values are set fairly according to fair market prices.

Agricultural land, based on income producing value, should go up this year because farm income has been up for a couple of years, she said.

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