Sunflower Road bids come in lower than anticipated

What once might have been a high bid left Marion County commissioners smiling in relief Tuesday, July 31, at a payday meeting, when the winning bid for surfacing 10 miles of Sunflower Road by Schilling Construction of Manhattan came in at $793,583 instead of an engineer?s estimate at $1.02 million.

In the past two years, when promised state aid for the project faltered at negotiations at a half-million dollars, the commissioners at times seemed to hope the total bill might fall close to that bracket of a project. But oil prices for the 2-inch overlay have spiraled upward since then.

The aid given fell short of redoing the road that ended up as a detour route into Marion?s Third Street during state reconstruction of U.S. Highway 77. Helping rebuild Third as part of the package was promised to assist the City of Marion.

The anticipated start date for Sunflower, depending on weather, which must be 50 degrees or warmer, is October 15.

It could have been different. The competitive bids were from Koss Construction of Topeka at $1,197,799, from APAC Kansas of Hutchinson at $835,793, from Venture Corp. of Great Bend at $823,409, and from Lafarge of Wichita at $907,601.

The commissioners accepted the bid pending review by Kirkham-Michael, consulting engineers for the county.

Much of the total paid out $759,576 payday meeting was spent in closed executive sessions doing face-to-face review evaluations with appointed department heads.

County Clerk Carol Maggard gave the May sales tax collection figure, received by the state in June for disbursement in July, at $48,299.

She said this was another higher receipts month that placed collections for the year up by $9,380 for the year over 2006.

The commissioners were told they?ve had a lot of weight hanging over their heads. Maggard said Total Shred of Kansas has shredded six tons of surplus paper files that were stored in the attic of the Marion County Courthouse.

Maggard totaled annual road and bridge bid totals for diesel and gasoline to illustrate the rising cost of fuel to the county, and recorded $222,884 for 2004, $295,562 for 2005 and $361,5934 for 2006.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said a CPPO company has been approved to oversee funding for Northview Developmental Services in Marion and Harvey counties.

The commissioners noted final interlocal agreements for enforcement of city ordinances by the sheriff?s office have been received from Ramona and Tampa, but not Lincolnville because of the city attorney?s refusal to accept liabilities.

Steve Schmidt of the Santa Fe Trail Association appeared with Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman to discuss development of a kiosk, walking trail and visitor?s parking for interpretive historic viewing of the old Lost Springs of the Santa Fe Trail a mile west of the City of Lost Springs.

The U.S. Park Service will fund the development in cooperation with the land owners and local participants, Schmidt said.

The county would be asked to supply culverts and driveways as part of the project, he said.

Huffman said the project could bring in many busloads of visitors to benefit the local economy. Benefits could come from extended State Historic Byway signs and support, she said.

The commissioners approved Huffman?s nomination of Clint Seibel of Hillsboro as an alternate board member for South Central Kansas Economic Development District.

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