County may hire help to clear brush growth

Tree and brush growth has become enough of a problem on the Marion County road system that the county commission Monday said it will consider hiring a new road and bridge employee for brush cleanup.

Any employee designated for brush duty also would act in other capacities, probably as a heavy equipment operator doing road rebuilding, they said. The new employee could also work with replacing or cleaning out clogged or collapsed culverts that block road-water drainage.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said the question of brush clean-up needs to be considered now to take advantage of Federal Emergency Management Agency funding for cleaning up brush debris left from flooding.

He said he also has been getting complaints from farmers about the growth of hedge rows over roads, making it difficult to move combines from field to field.

Commissioner Dan Holub said there are also places where growth of trees or brush have blocked the line-of-sight for car drivers, especially at intersections, therefore becoming traffic hazards.

Road and Bridge Director Jim Herzet said his department has sufficient equipment on hand for brush control.

Dallke said he is getting calls from the Goessel area about the hard-surface road torn up for rebuilding that is not being returned to blacktop for two years.

Herzet said under the county?s current program, the road is torn up this year, but the road bed work proceeds quickly enough to restore the road to hard surface next year.

Holub said he wants commitments Friday from representatives of TransCanada Keystone Pipeline that they will immediately begin repairs of the Pilsen Road, also known as Remington Road, for the winter season with complete rebuilding next spring.

He said Keystone?s heavy trucks and equipment not only tore the roadbed up on Pilsen Road, but even pushed the shoulders out.

?It?s a mess,? he said. ?We can?t let it go into the winter like this. It needs more than just gravel put in the holes. Keystone people said all along they would be good neighbors. It?s time for them to show that.?

Herzet was given permission by the commissioners to seek purchase of a $2,000 to $2,500-tire changer for smaller truck tires.

Right now, Herzet said, the department has two flat tires a day, but carries enough spares that employees don?t have to take them in immediately for repairs.

The commissioners awarded a road and bridge transport fuel bid of $19,885 to Cardie Oil of Tampa for 1,900 gallons of diesel and 2,500 gallons of unleaded gasoline over a competitive bid of $20,122 from Cooperative Grain of Hillsboro.

Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman said she has been cooperating with Butler County Community College for space at the Bown-Corby Building to present webinars for local businesses on a large-screen interactive television.

She said her department also has been asked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to host a luncheon Nov. 18 at the Marion County Lake Hall for businesses to learn about USDA help available.

The commissioners approved signing a USDA grant form presented by Huffman.

Household Hazardous Waste, Transfer Station and Noxious Weed Director Rollin Schmidt said that the HHW cabinet at the Hillsboro recycling site needs to be monitored because members of the public ?are trashing it.?

Commissioner Bob Hein confirmed that people are simply throwing hazardous materials into the site for disposal. He said local volunteers do try to monitor it, ?but it?s a mess when the people aren?t there.?

Schmidt said he has 150 to 200 tires at the transfer station that he needs removed by Resource Management.

Schmidt said he will continue watching for a used tire-cutting machine that would give the county greater flexibility in tire disposal.

Sheriff Robert Craft was appointed temporary interim emergency management director by the commissioners to avoid loss of representation in such things as the South-Central Kansas regional campaign.

The commissioners continued its discussion of the employee handbook with newer guidelines recommended by Lloyd Davies of Great Plains Computers regarding computer practices such as Facebook, texting and e-mail.

Dallke commended Depart?ment of Aging coordinator Gayla Ratzlaff for her work in organizing meals and a slide show during the 50th anniversary celebration of Senior Citizens of Marion County Inc..

The commissioners decided to take time considering their possible endorsement of the former Florence Opera House, now a grocery store, to be placed on the national register of historic places.

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