The Marion County board of commissioners met on Monday, March 27 and approved a letter of support of the KDOT Cost Share Program Application for improvements to 290th from Nighthawk to Remington connecting US Hwy 56/77 and KS Hwy 15.
The letter points out that this stretch of roadway is showing major rutting, sliding of the surface and base failures that have become serious safety concerns. There are no shoulders and structures are very narrow.
It states that 290th is the access from the north (Abilene, Salina, Kansas City, etc.) to the Pilsen home of Father Emil Kapaun. Father Kapaun is under consideration for Sainthood and is also a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. His remains were recovered and returned to the area in 2021. Tens of thousands of faithful currently make the trip to see his home each year.
“As the path to Sainthood progresses, the number of followers traveling to ‘walk in his steps’ will increase,” said the letter.
The letter also points out that the influx of visitors to Pilsen has a regional and statewide impact. The surrounding communities of Wichita, McPherson, Newton, Abilene, Junction City and Emporia will all benefit from safe infrastructure for visitors. Marion County is willing to carry the bulk of the responsibility but asks for a partnership with the state in building and maintaining 24 miles of local paved roadway to access Pilsen.
According to the board and County Engineer Brice Goebel, even without Kapaun in the equation, improving 290th will provide significant economic benefit to the many businesses and agricultural industry in the region. They point out in the letter and application that part of what makes this road unique is the mixture of traffic such as heavy grain, cattle, fuel and delivery trucks mixed in with commuter, school and personal vehicles. The narrow roadway, structures and deteriorating surface/base are significant safety issues that must be addressed.
The letter for the application closes asking for support of Marion County’s KDOT Cost Share Program Application to provide safe roads for our citizens, businesses, schools, and visitors. And it states that the approval of it will have significant economic benefit impact, is a regional priority and Marion County is making significant local contribution.
In other business, the board:
- issued a disaster proclamation resolution due to certain conditions caused, or eminently threatened to cause wide-spread or severe damage, injury or loss of life or property in disaster proportion. Extremely dry conditions existed in Marion County. The combination of dry grassland, accompanied by gusty winds increased the risk of wildland fire spread. Marion County Fire Departments responded to a grass fire located at Hwy 77 and 270th on March 23, 2023, in Marion County.
- heard a department update from EMS Director Curt Hasart. He reported that from Jan. 1- Feb. 28, there were a total of 198 calls, 147 transports, 31 transfers and 36 who refused transport.
- met in executive session with Hasart.
- met in executive session for personnel with County Appraiser Nicole Reid.
- heard from County Attorney Brad Jantz regarding a bridge that was damaged and is no longer considered safe due to the fires. Jantz will work with the insurance to see what options are and who is responsible for it. The board and County Engineer Brice Gloebel have already met with a consultant to plan repairs to save the structure and then to fix it. Chairman David Mueller said he thought that the temporary fix could be handled in house, but he is not sure about the permanent repairs.
- met in executive session for property acquisition.
- met in executive session for pending litigation.
- met in multiple executive sessions for personnel matters.