County OKs remodel for communication center

The Marion County Com?mis?sion Monday approved spending about $48,000, according to an architect?s estimate, to remodel the communications center in the Marion County Jail.

Commissioner Randy Dallke made the motion to approve the project with an admonition that additional costs could not exceed $15,000.

Michele Abbott, director of Communications and Emergency Management, said she expected most of the project to be paid with $30,000 her office has encumbered in case it was needed for the courthouse generator system?which now has other funding?and from grant money.

Commissioner Bob Hein asked architect Tony Rangel of Law/Kingdon in Wichita to ?run the plan by? the State Fire Marshall?s Office immediately for approval ?so we can get going on this.?

Sheriff Rob Craft asked that construction bidders be required to give a timeline for the project to keep his jailer from being hampered in his work for an undetermined time.

Prisoners are kept adjacent to the communications center on the third floor. The construction would require the jailer to do some of his work from the first floor, he said.

Rangel said that with a citizens committee beginning the deliberation process on what to do with the county jail and communications center, determining whether to build a new one, the center remodeling ?could be regarded as a stop-gap measure.?

But, he said, the remodeling will work with housing another office there should communications move to a new building in the future.

The remodeling will involve moving walls to increase space, improving lighting, updating electrical configurations with equipment placements and adding new equipment such as a garbage disposal and hot water heater.

Rangel gave the commissioners material to consider another jail project: reroofing it with lightweight concrete covered with rubberized material.

Road issues

The commissioners decided they will dedicate next Monday to a work session on how to organize a better county road program, and to budgeting.

Road and Bridge Director John Summerville said that at one time, the county was supposed to be on a schedule where every hard-surface road received chip-and-seal covering every three years.

?But that hasn?t happened in years,? he said.

Commission Chair Dan Holub said the commissioners are continually frustrated in finding the money for expensive road projects despite the magnitude of the economy the roads support.

For instance, he said the Tampa road from Kansas Highway 15 has 5,000 big trucks traveling it annually that support $55 million to $60 million in materials moving in and out of the community.

?Yet I?ve exhausted what I?ve known to do,? he said. ?I have no other ideas on what we can do to build a $2 million road.?

Holub said the county?s consulting engineering firm of Kirkham-Michael has advised that the Tampa Road should have a new 6-inch hard surface for the traffic it bears.

He said the road qualifies for a state hazardous materials road grant, but the state has no more money in the fund. The county tried for some of the ?Obama stimulus money? for the road, but failed to get it, he said.

Holub said he?s tried to get money through the Kansas Department of Transportation.

?The road qualifies over and over again, but there?s never a budget for it,? he said.

Holub said he?s been looking at whether KDOT might accept the route from K-15 into Tampa ?as a state road,? a part of the state highway system.

?But that could take a year or so,? he said. ?We need to do something in the short term.?

Holub said the commissioners may have to consider the county doing the project on its own with loan money through KDOT or some other agency.

Economic stimulus

Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman said Marion County residents will share in the benefits of a $300,000 federal stimulus grant for a study of the historic Chisholm Trail from its beginning at San Antonio, Texas, to its finish at Abilene.

Kansas counties involved are Sumner, Sedgwick, Marion and Dickinson.

She said communities along the route, such as Goessel, Durham and Tampa, will be featured.

She said tourists following guides on the trail will be looking for restaurants and shopping in such towns. There also may be trading posts added at some locations, she said.

Huffman said plans are advancing rapidly for the Symphony in the Flinthills, June 12-13 near Florence. Daytime music providers are booked, plus arts and crafts and food vendors are making reservations, she said.

Promotion brochures are out, and there are two billboards up along U.S. Highway 50 calling attention to the event, she said.

Huffman said $3,190 has been received from vendors, and $7,575 has been received from sponsors to support the event.

For the complete report of Monday?s county commission meeting go to

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