County weed dept. won?t contract with CKC

Noxious-Weed Supervisor Rollin Schmidt said Monday at the Marion County Commission meeting that he will not contract with the Central Kansas Conservancy for weed control on the old railroad right of way through Marion County.

Schmidt said that CKC, advocates of creating ?rails to trails? on the federally ?rail-banked? land now devoid of tracks, is unreliable. He said the group failed to pay for noxious weed service in 1999 and 2000.

If he contracted with CKC again, and it didn?t pay, the service would go back against property taxes to the landowners along the route who are paying them, Schmidt said.

?I?ll just deal with the landowners for any weed services they may need,? he said.

Schmidt said the only way he would contract with the group would be if its board chairman, Ron Peters, or its attorney, Michael Mills, agreed to be personally responsible for paying the bill.

Schmidt said he agreed with Sheriff Lee Becker that county services along the railroad right-of-way should go to landowners because ?they are paying for it.?

Commissioner Dan Holub said that, according to statements by Mills last week, the city of Marion has a contract with CKC for establishing a trail within the city. Holub said City Administrator David Mayfield told him the city has no contract with CKC.

Commission Chairman Bob Hein said, ?Then they lied to us.?

Holub said, ?I don?t want to let this drop. I want Susan (Robson, county attorney) to take a look at this to see what our options are. If the feds and the state don?t want to take care of the landowners on this, then we will. If they want to sue us, they can.?

Hein said, ?I agree.?

The two commissioners decided to delay a discussion on recycling with Schmidt, in his other role as director of the transfer station, until Commissioner Randy Dallke returns next week.

They also delayed a discussion with Acting Road and Bridge Director John Summerville on scheduling road hard surfacing this summer.

Summerville said the Florence quarry raised its price for road rock by 25 cents a ton this month. The county uses Florence rock to match the Marion quarry price of $7.25 a ton. It is the second price increase in less than six months, Summerville said, and reflects the rapidly rising prices the county is experiencing in regard to fuel.

Summerville said the quarries use expensive heavy machinery and a lot of fuel. Two years ago the price of gravel was $4 a ton, he said.

The commissioners have been discussing what fraction of roads can still be hard surfaced considering how much price increases affect the budget.

They approved scheduled budget transfers of $16,442 from the risk management reserve to the risk management fund, $65,768 from the road and bridge sales tax to the road and bridge capital improvement fund, and $121,706.66 from the road maintenance and improvement fund also to the capital improvement fund.

Summerville said an electric contractor working for the electric utility?picking up poles downed by last winter?s ice storm?did heavy mud damage to 5/8 mile on 340th Road west of Quail Creek.

Holub asked County Clerk Carol Maggard to investigate how the county might raise donations instead of using tax funds for exterior courthouse lighting, landscaping and planting and other improvements. He cited donations on behalf of the city of Marion for park playground equipment.

Park and Lake Superintendent Steve Hudson said he would like to purchase a sign for the lake hall that would allow people to know it is available for rental.

Hein and Holub said they both wanted Hudson to go ahead with the idea because it wouldn?t cost much, but possibly would bring large results.

The commissioners also favored Hudson?s suggestion that the lake hall be insulated, probably after Halloween, and directed him to replace dark paneling with painted drywall.

Hudson said only five owners of trailers at the lake have not complied with providing proof of insurance by May 1. He said they should be reminded that their trailers will have to be removed from the park if proof of liability insurance isn?t provided.

Hudson said the second annual clean-up day at the lake will be from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday with lunch provided for volunteers.

?There are a lot of branches to pick up,? he said.

Emergency Medical Services Director Steve Smith said the ambulance service has collected $3,142.23 on delinquent bills this spring from the Kansas Set-Off Program out of refunds due taxpayers who haven?t paid their bills.

The commissioners approved writing off an additional $914.34 in bills, but Smith said the amount still can be collected through the set-off service.

Smith said that between the set-off program and paycheck garnishments through court decisions the county is doing far better at collecting old debts than it did using collection agencies.

Smith said a school-bus incident tabletop exercise is planned for emergency personnel at 6 p.m. May 7 at St. Luke Clinic, CEVO III class in Lehigh May 17 with 13 people scheduled to attend, and a family fun day in Marion from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 17 sponsored by Sondra Mayfield.

He said it is becoming critical that the county have more EMT volunteers. He said only three of the last six EMT recruits are expected to complete training.

Smith listed 88 ambulance calls for March: 14 from Peabody, 10 from Florence, 30 from Marion, 29 from Hillsboro, and five from Tampa.

The runs included 14 transfer, 15 cardiac, 19 medical emergency, 12 standby, three motor vehicle accidents, 15 falls, five no transports and five other.

There were six first responder runs: one from Burns and Lincolnville and four from Goessel.

Trail projects gain support in Marion Co.

A Marion County organization recently gained support for two county projects during the board of directors meeting of the Santa Fe Trail Association on March 27-29 in Council Grove.

The projects are sponsored by the Cottonwood Crossing Chapter of the SFTA, which focuses on the history of the Santa Fe Trail in Marion County.

One project is to mark the Santa Fe Trail across the county by placing signs where the trail crosses county roads. The other project is to construct an interpretive ?wayside exhibit? at the site of the Lost Spring Station west of Lost Springs.

The Marion County Board of Commissioners previously endorsed both projects.

?Placing signs to mark the Santa Fe Trail is a high priority for the National Park Service and for me personally,? said Aaron Mahr, superintendent, Intermountain Region National Trails System.

The Santa Fe Trail was active in Marion County from 1821 until about 1867.

For more information on the Santa Fe Trail in Marion County, visit the Cottonwood Crossing Chapter on the SFTA Web site,

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