Dust from Kapaun traffic raising dust dangers

Buses carrying increasing numbers of visitors to the Father Emil Kapaun memorial at Pilsen are apparently deteriorating the gravel road from Marion to Pilsen faster, with blowing dust making visibility unsafe, according to commentators.

Discussions at the Marion County Commis?sion meeting Monday centered on upgrading the Pilsen Road, known formally as Reming?ton Road.

Warren Kreutziger, representing the Veterans of Foreign Wars in the county, said Kapaun is the only Con?gressional Medal of Honor recipient from Marion County, and his memorial is attracting thousands of visitors.

County Commissioner Dan Holub said the traffic problem is compounded exponentially by busloads of pilgrims visiting the memorial as Kapaun is considered for sainthood in the Catholic church for his martyrdom in caring for Allied prisoners of war in North Korean camps.

Holub said, ?The road is not a cheap fix. I wanted to do asphalt, but it?s too expensive.?

Commissioner Roger Fleming said the commissioners would like to take care of the problem for now with a chip-seal of the road, but the season for chip-sealing has ended for this fall because cold weather won?t allow the surface to cure.

The project will have to wait until spring, Fleming said, as will other projects that were delayed by unusually heavy rains in August.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said road maintenance is a continuing problem for Marion County, as a rural county with a relatively small tax base.

Road and Bridge Director Randy Crawford said the nearly $500,000 upgrade the commissioners have committed to includes eight miles of double chip seal at $55,000 a mile, or $440,000 total, plus one mile of double chip seal at $27,500.

That brings the total to $467,500, Crawford said. He added that prices are trending upward.

?Who knows how high it will be by spring?? he said.

Later in the meeting, Dallke said he has received concerns from outlying parts of the county that roads there are not being kept up as the commissioners concentrate on the central higher traffic core.

Dallke identified Golden?rod, from 70th to 90th, as an example. He said he would like to see two or three road graders join forces to build it up with additional gravel.

Fleming said the same needs to be done at 130th, and Dallke said there are outlying roads needing the same care in the northern part of the county.

Traffic fines

Dallke asked for a discussion resulting from his own investigation that revealed other counties of the state have been able to use traffic fines incurred on county roads for upgrading local law enforcement.

Sheriff Rob Craft estimated that 80 percent of the traffic tickets his department writes are for violations on state and federal highways, and therefore the fines must go to the state.

Craft confirmed that semi-trucks are probably using county roads to bypass state scales with possibly overweight loads. He said local grain elevators are allowing local sheriff?s officers to use grain scales to weigh trucks.

It might be possible, Craft said, for the county to issue 20 tickets a month to trucks that could raise $2,000 in fines.

Holub asked Craft to continue looking into the matter to see what benefits it might have for the county. He said an increase in fine collections might also help the county catch more violators doing recreational ?mudding? in four-wheel drive vehicles.

Other business

The commissioners verified in a County Board of Health hearing with Health Department Administrator Diedre Serene that they will follow the state?s lead in closing the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program if federal funding is cut during any future budget freeze.

The commissioners met in 5-minute and 15-minute executive sessions for personnel with County Clerk Tina Spencer.

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