Farmers, others who plan to burn may need to apply

Setting fires may require more paperwork some day following Monday?s discussion at the Marion County Commission meeting.

Farmers, or other persons, who want to burn crop residue or pasture under Marion County?s burning regulations may find in the future they still are able to do so by notifying the county.

But if they want to set a brush fire, they may find an application is necessary, and that someone from the county may come by to look at the burn pile.

Bobbi Strait, planning, zoning and environmental health director, and Michele Abbott-Becker, communications and emergency management director, told commissioners that Marion County?s burn regulations aren?t specific enough to meet state and federal rules developed under continuing efforts to protect air quality.

?It will be OK to burn brush,? Strait said, ?but we?ll want to make sure they don?t have half of an old barn under it.?

Strait said she sees county residents burning on days that are too overcast and windy to meet federal guidelines. Just recently she stopped to see what people in the country were going to burn in a brush pile, and she found a roll of tar paper. Burning that, as well as asphalt, two-by-fours, or other commercial and demolition waste, could cause problems for the county, she said.

Abbott-Becker said the commissioners should address the situation by resolution. But she and Strait called for a public meeting first that could include fire department representatives, residents, Household Hazardous Waste Director Rollin Schmidt, County Agent Rickey Roberts and other officials.

The two women said representatives of agricultural pesticide providers in the area should attend the meeting, too.

The commissioners approved Strait receiving some hazardous materials training free under county fire departments to increase her awareness of possibly toxic materials.

Schmidt, in his capacity as noxious weed director, told commissioners, a landowner in the northern part of the county has not responded to his notices to eliminate musk thistle growing in a corner of a pasture. Under Kansas law, Schmidt said, he must go on the land, spray the thistle and bill the land owner.

The commissioners awarded a $20,837 road and bridge transport fuel bid to Cardie Oil of Tampa that Commissioner Bob Hein said might represent a record high in cost to the county. The competitive bid from Cooperative Grain of Hillsboro was $22,215.50.

The bid included 5,500 gallons of diesel and 2,500 gallons of unleaded gasoline.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said that with rising fuel prices causing $5,000 to $6,000 increases in road and bridge bids, the county may find that it has to begin cuts or different ways of doing things to stay within budget.

?We?ll have to make changes if fuel prices keep going up,? he said. ?We may find we have to shut down road graders three weeks a year or something.?

Hein said that higher fuel prices are almost a certainty from everything he reads.

Tom Holub, one of four road and bridge division heads acting as liaison to the commission until a successor is chosen for former Director Jim Herzet, confirmed that very little roadway mowing has been done this year. Commissioner Dan Holub said mowing may have to stay permanently cut back.

Holub also confirmed that people going four-wheeling in mud after rain on dirt roads cost the county a lot of grading time.

Since Holub said the department also stays short on help, the commissioners said grader drivers also might need to be diverted to assist the rest of the crew in preparing Sunflower Road for overlay.

In a teleconference with an engineer from the firm of Kirkham Michael?consultants to the county?the commissioners learned that bids for the long awaited rebuilding of Sunflower with partial state aid will open July 31.

Start time was to be in October, but commissioners decided to allow a late start of April 15 to perhaps receive a more favorable bid from a contracting company.

They said companies are busy now, and the flexibility in time might enable avoiding bad weather without penalty. Dallke said pothole repairs also are a concern on Sunflower.

County Clerk Carol Maggard reported treasurer?s figures for the end of June that showed the county?s cash position at $9,187,020, the general fund at $2,852,395, the road and bridge fund at $1,551,000, and interest earned by the end of the quarter of $166,458.

Special auto fund expenses for June stood at $3,770.

Holub said he has been receiving calls from taxpayers commenting on pay raises given the four road and bridge liaisons and Abbott-Becker. He said he wanted it clarified that the raises were only to 88 percent of mean using comparisons to other counties and cities. Thus, these employees still receive far below the 100 percent they might realize elsewhere, Holub said. Road and bridge employees still average in the 70 percentages, he said.

The commissioners approved a bid of $2,745 from Sunflower Business Solutions of Newton for 1,000 cases of white bond copying paper with 5,000 sheets a case. Competitive bids were $2,900 from Baker Bros. Printing of Hillsboro and Navrat?s at $3,040.

The commissioners reviewed proposals for next year?s budget with Diedre Serene, health department administrator.

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