County votes to form ‘road study committee’

Marion County commissioners addressed the ongoing concerns for county roads at their regular Mon­day meeting.

County residents Linda Peters and Max Hayden, former county appraiser, asked the commissioners to give their support in creating a “fact-finding” road committee.

Peters said she views the committee’s role as gathering information that can help decide priorities for maintaining the roads.

That fact finding, Peters said, could include developing questions and gathering information about how road work is done in other counties which would be reported back to the commissioners.

Jesse Hamm, Road and Bridge superintendent, said he didn’t understand the purpose of the committee because he would be limited by the size of his staff and his equipment.

“My crew is spread so thin,” Hamm said.

Commissioner Kent Becker said he thought it was essential that Hamm be part of the committee.

The commission voted 2-1 for formation of the road study committee, with Commissioner Diane Novak voting no.

Concerning a proposed project for 330th Street, Darin Neufeld of EBH engineering and surveying firm reviewed initial plans for resurfacing the road. He said he will bring costs for the project next week.

A discussion followed after Novak asked about the feasibility of expanding the right of way on the road. The commissioners agreed to hold a public meeting and invite landowners in order to gauge their opinion.

County Clerk Tina Spencer recommended that the meeting be held either at the Community Hall in Durham or the Senior Center in Tampa.

Becker said that while he supported holding the public meeting, efforts should continue on the road project.

The commissioners and Hamm discussed policy for rocking a road where a landowner has built a cabin.

Hamm said it’s not a residence but more of a weekend getaway.

The commissioners agreed that it’s the responsibility of landowners to pay to have a road built up at an initial cost of $2,000.

In his presentation, concerned citizen Tom Britain requested that the commissioners send the wind farm project back to Marion County Planning and Zoning to consider removing the conditional-use permits for the proposed giant windmill project where he lives.

He distributed a copy of the regulations, which stated the permit “ceases to exist for a period of two (2) years, the CUP will forfeit its Development Plan and will not be allowed to exist again unless a new application is made, a public hearing held, and a new Development Plan approved.”

Britain said that because nothing has been done, this project ceases to exist.

Several other residents attended the meeting and made statements in support of Britain’s request.

The commissioners agreed to put the topic on the agenda for their July 31 meeting to make a decision about Britain’s request.

Bud Druse, director of Weeds, Household Hazardous Waste, Transfer Station and Recycling, reported a breakdown with crane equipment at the transfer station. The commissioners requested he bring bids to next Monday’s meeting.

Sheriff Robert Craft said his office is losing a detective who is moving out-of-state, and Craft will be advertising the position.

Ed Debesis, EMS director, reported on the ambulance and first-response runs for June.

“We’re staying pretty close to our averages, up or down one or two,” Debesis said.

He listed insurance amounts that are outstanding, collected and written off.

The commissioners approved in-house write-offs of $7,791.37.

Debesis said the new autohouse has condensation from the air conditioner and tiles are being ruined.

He also reported that the department is at a standstill for EMT classes at this point because opportunities for those classes are limited.

Debesis said that he put in 105 hours last week.

“I’m looking at almost 75 this week,” he said.

Asked if he was still trying to hire for staff positions, he said all positions authorized are filled until the first of the year. He said he has additional staff budgeted for next year.

The commissioners decided to approve a part-time position in the budget for the rest of the year.

Emma Tajchman, director of Planning, Zoning and Environmental Health, presented a rental option for office space, which would include utilities, for the department at St. Luke.

The cost would be similar to utilities paid at the current location.

Russell Groves, interim board chair for the Marion County Economic Community Development Corp., presented another alternative.

Groves said Kodi Panzer is closing the Marion clinic and the building could be an option to lease for Planning and Zoning office space.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said he would like to have the commissioners see inside of both options in preparation for making a decision next week.

Other business

In other business, the commissioners:

• voted to exclude the C-Mart at Peabody owned by O&J Inc. from the current tax sale because of a KDHE cleanup.

• approved several salary changes for county employees for six-month and one-year raises.

• appointed Novak as Marion County representative to the Mid-Kansas Community Action Program Board.

• approved the low bid for transport fuel submitted by Epp’s Service at Elbing for 4,000 gallons of diesel for Tank 3 at $1.8565 per gallon, 1,500 gallons of diesel for Tank 1 at $1.60 per gallon, and 2,500 gallons of unleaded for E10 at $1.713 per gallon, totaling $14,108.50.

• agreed not to purchase the lake house appliances from Steve Hudson at the price of $2,300.

• were reminded by Spencer that the Driver’s License Office will be closed from July 19-26 and the Treasurer’s Office will be closed July 21-24.

• approved repairing roofing for the Bowers building for not more than $450.

• approved Tajchman’s request for a rule exception for a 30-acre land use.

• approved KDHE access to area near Canada to test wells per legal counselor’s opinion.

• met in executive session for personnel hiring for the Park & Lake superintendent.