County still waiting for pipeline contract decision

Other counties are hanging tough in their dealings regarding TransCanada Keystone Pipeline construction plans while Marion County awaits a final contract decision with the company.

Marion County Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said in the regular meeting Monday that Clay County has told Keystone it wants $1,500 per road crossing, ?take it or leave it, at least until a judge tells us we can?t get it.?

Acting Road and Bridge Supervisor John Summerville said such a charge might be hard to defend if other utility companies aren?t charged the same fee.

But it was tempting for the commissioners to consider.

They asked County Attorney Susan Robson and Summerville to make the necessary contacts by its Jan. 19 meeting to finalize the contract that would allow passage of Keystone?s oil slurry pipeline.

The county?s consulting engineering firm of Kirkham-Michael, from Ellsworth, wants a $25,000 fee to plan the pipeline route and oversee it as Keystone proceeds.

Commissioner Bob Hein said he was uncomfortable with a Keystone request that Marion County receive the bill from Kirkham-Michael divided on a monthly basis, and then bill Keystone at its Calgary headquarters.

None of the commissioners wanted county funds involved for something Keystone is to pay.

Robson suggested instead that Keystone be required to put the $25,000 in a trust account in a Marion County bank for payments to be made to Kirkham-Michael.

Summerville said Kirkham-Michael doesn?t want the added liability of also being the inspecting company on the project. Kaw Valley Engineering of Junction City has made a proposal to do that with fee to be determined, probably $60 to $70 an hour, he said.

The commissioners and Summerville were uncomfortable with Kaw Valley plans to inspect pipe welding joints unless it was only periodically at road and bridge crossings. They felt the inspections could imply county liability for the joints.

Other business

The commissioners made routine first-of-the-year changes.

Dallke was appointed chairman to succeed Commissioner Dan Holub in routine rotation. Dallke offered to defer the position to Hein, based upon possibilities that this could be Hein?s last term after years of service, but Hein turned it down.

Instead, Hein was appointed vice-chair.

They redesignated The Marion County Record as the county?s official newspaper for publishing legals at a charge of $9 per column inch plus $2 per column inch for simultaneous publication in the other two county newspapers owned by Hoch Publishing. The new rates replace the single price formerly charged for placement in all three.

The commissioners voted 3-0 to require that all county finances be done with Marion County banks.

They reappointed Emergency Management Director Michelle Abbott as director for the South-Central Kansas Homeland Secur?ity Region, which Marion County is paid to administer.

They promised Rollin Schmidt, solid-waste transfer station director, that they will meet next week to decide on how to proceed or not proceed with recycling.

Schmidt said Marion County shipped out 69 tons of recyclables in 2009, saving a net of $719 at the landfill. If full real costs had been incurred, Schmidt said the recycling probably wouldn?t have been profitable at all since it relied on volunteer assistance.

The county is contracted with Sunoco Paper Co. of Hutchin?son, which provided a paper baling machine for disposal of recyclables, he said. Cardboard is the most profitable item.

Schmidt said the county has been using a trailer borrowed from Dickinson County, which Dickinson now would like to sell.

?We either need to buy it, or give it back to them,? he said. ?It isn?t right just to keep using it.?

Holub said that many county residents, since they already pay the $81 annual charge to get rid of trash, will be unwilling to pay even a small $2.50 a month to support recycling.

Schmidt said the original financial aim of recycling was to reduces costs of waste going to the landfill.

?Plus, recycling is just the right thing to do,? he said.

He said that waste disposed of at the transfer station for 2009 included nearly 7,066 tons of municipal solid waste, 1,380 tons of commercial and demolition waste, 39 tons of white goods, .0175 ton of special waste and 5.5 tons of tires.

It was disposed of in 415 truck hauls at an average weight of 20.44 tons for a cost per ton including fuel, driver and tipping fee at the landfill of $37.32.

Included in the discussion was that a ?recycling factory? projected to be built north of Herington might someday need most of Marion County?s waste.

Steve Smith, emergency medical services director, reported 80 ambulance runs for December, 11 from Peabody, eight from Florence, 24 from Marion, 31 from Hillsboro, and six from Tampa.

They included 15 transfers, nine cardiac, 21 medical emergency, four standby, two motor vehicle accidents, 10 falls, 12 no transport, five 10-22, and two other.

There were 11 first-response runs, 10 from Goessel and one from Lincolnville.

Smith reported a total of 1,102 ambulance runs for 2009, down from the 1,151 in 2008, but still the second highest in total for 12 years beginning with 1998.

Aside from other events and meetings, Smith expects a high angle rescue training exercise to be conducted at a grain elevator in April or May.

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