New oil site brings new road challenge for the county

There?s newly discovered oil in northern Marion County, which probably is good news.

But it left the Marion County Commission Monday with a need to ponder the bad news?that oil trucks from the drill-site are leaving mud slabs on top of county gravel.

Road and Bridge Director John Summerville said Old Mill Road is graveled for a quarter-mile north from 240th to the home of Gary Evans. But for the next quarter-mile to the oil drilling site, it is unsurfaced. The oil company gravels the drill site and its tanks area, he said.

For the county to gravel the extra quarter-mile, Summerville said it would take 100 tons of rock at a cost of $1,500 to $2,000. To leave it ungraveled, he said, could become an issue of liability and public safety because slabs of mud could easily throw a car.

Summerville said Shawmar Oil, based in Marion, already gravels roads at its own expense to its drill sites.

The commission decided to follow the lead of Commissioner Bob Hein, who said, ?Well, just go talk to them, OK??

Fences and landowners

After explanation from Summerville, the commissioners agreed to depart from usual policy on fence reconstruction after road work at $1.50 a foot for an estimated total of $2,000 at a pasture east of Peabody, and agreed to a fencing bill of $4,798.40.

Summerville said the fence needed is on a solid-rock ledge with gates included.

Summerville also reviewed problems with landowners building conservation structures without usual Natural Resources Conservation Service planning and dumping water from them into county road ditches.

He said one such waterway on 110th east of Nighthawk Road will allow water to jump the road from an inadequate ditch to wash gravel from the road and cut across a neighbor?s field when correct design would have let it flow to a nearby creek.

Terraces are being built to empty into the county road ditch on 140th making a similar problem, he said.

The commissioners directed him to have County Attorney Susan Robson write letters to the landowners involved, advising them of the possible ramifications of their actions.

Request denied

The commissioners denied Teresa Huffman, economic development director, use of land that was once part of the county poor farm for public production of farm produce for the farmers? markets and to preserve concrete buildings used by the former asylum.

Huffman also said she had been cleaning up the cemetery there and wanted to improve the natural woodland.

She wanted to share the area with county fire departments that want to build a training area and tower there.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said he would rather sell the real estate than have the county continue ownership.

Commissioners Hein and Dan Holub said they didn?t think public gardening would be allowed because of liability issues.

Huffman said she distributed thousands of Hillsboro and Marion bags at the Wichita Garden Show and other events, and calls are coming back into the county as a result.

For instance, the Marion Chamber of Commerce has received an inquiry about Chingawassa Days, she said.

EMS runs

Steve Smith, Emergency Medical Services director, reported 85 ambulance runs for February?13 from Peabody, 17 from Florence, one back-up, 17 from Marion, 33 from Hillsboro, and four from Tampa.

They included 10 transfers, seven cardiac, 27 medical emergency, nine standby, four motor-vehicle accidents, four falls, 18 no transport, five ?disregard? calls, and one ?other.?

There were five first-response runs?three from Goessel and one each from Burns and Lincolnville.

There were six rescue runs?two from Florence and four from Marion.

Lake developments

Smith said 23 persons took part in Neal Whitaker?s water rescue class Feb. 28 in the Marion Aquatic Center.

Steve Hudson, Marion County Park and Lake director, said county lake personnel increased their rescue knowledge from the event.

The commissioners approved his proposal to buy three rope throw bags and two life jackets for aquatic rescue for about $500. The equipment would be kept in the lake patrol truck and boat.

They also approved Hudson sharing grant money for three picnic tables and two benches made from recycled plastic that could cost no more than $2,000.

Hudson said the lake?s fishing derby over the weekend raised $540, and 118 fish were caught.

Appraisal deadlines

County Appraiser Cindy Magill said the state has extended the deadline for sending out property evaluation notices from March 1 to April 1, necessitated in part by the county?s time-consuming adaptation of the state-required Orien data program.

Magill said 3,500 parcel records?30 percent of the county?s tax records?wouldn?t convert from old programs to Orien, necessitating they be done individually by a worker.

Most of these were for commercial real estate, she said. This apparently has happened for most counties, she added.

Other business

Commissioners approved a proposal from director Rollin Schmidt for the noxious weed department. It will allow up to $10,000 in cost sharing to purchase chemicals from dealers by farmers rather than them buying directly from the county.

The commissioners approved Schmidt, in his capacity as director of the transfer station, borrowing a trailer from Harvey County, and starting a program of recyclables collection in cities throughout the county for six months ?to see how it works.?

Dallke said the county will need to know that it is saving more with recycling than it is spending in employee time and transportation for the collection.

Schmidt expects a baler for the program from Sunoco within the next three weeks.

The commissioners agreed to pay $4,601 from sales tax funds on a $9,301.50 rescue cutting extrication unit for the Tampa Fire Department. The unit was requested by firefighters Richard Meisinger, Tim Svoboda and Ron Mueller.

Meisinger said the department will pay the other half from its $18,000 annual tax-supported budget, although it will call for frugality in other areas.

The department is responsible for Blaine and Clark Townships although the firefighters said they are called to assist neighboring departments like the one at Durham.

The commissioners had said they wanted to make up rescue equipment deficits in the northwest part of the county.

Dallke said the goal should be to help the department, and also pay some of the cost back to it.

The commissioners approved signing for $33,045 in state grant requests presented by Diedre Serene, Health Department Administrator, for maternal and children?s programs.

She said the county department is requesting more funding this year, but probably will have to settle for less in the face of state budget reductions.

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