The Marion County Commission got its weekly update from the Marion County Health Department on COVID-19 cases and vaccination. As of Monday morning, there were 584 confirmed cases; 323 probable; 62 active; six hospitalized and six deaths. The positivity rate for Jan. 3 through 16 was 14.7 percent.
The health department was asked to assist in a Jan. 26 vaccination campaign in cooperation with Hillsboro Hospital and St. Lukes Hospital, vaccinating 170 individuals by appointment only. Currently, residents 65 and older are being prioritized by age. Residents 82 years old and older are encouraged to contact the health department for an appointment in the next round of vaccinations.
It was reported residents and staff at all seven long-term care facilities have had the opportunity to receive the first dose of the vaccine.
After discussion regarding locations for an emergency services building for county use, the commission opted to purchase property along Ash Street in Hillsboro for the purpose of constructing a new emergency management building.
Commissioners spoke with Hillsboro City Administrator Matt Stiles, who was on the call for the meeting; Stiles and the commission agreed the exact footprint of the property was subject to adjustment, based on the size and needs of the as-yet-to-be-determined building.
However, the commission was firm in its desire for a prefabricated or metal building, to spare the expense of an engineer and architect.
The proposed site will have room not only for equipment but also bunk quarters, locker room and administrative space.
Commissioners chose a new building, as the investment will be a fixture for Marion County for several decades, and a custom-purposed building at the Ash location would best serve the long-term needs of emergency services.
Marion County Sheriff Robert Craft appeared before the commissioners and read a written statement regarding his lack of attendance at commission meetings.
In his statement, he said “because commission has become confrontational” and there have been “improper statements” and “false accusations” he has “continued to limit participation in meetings, as they are of no use.”
Craft said, regarding the death of an inmate at the jail, “at no time was I contacted in any manner by any commissioner or county counsel, but I was publicly berated for not speaking.”
Craft also admonished the commission he and his department are “in no way obligated to take orders from commission.”
“When the meetings return to [being] civil and productive, I will visit with you on a more regular basis,” Craft said. “To the new commissioners who were not part of that, I apologize, but this is something that needed to be said.”
Following reading his statement, Craft answered questions regarding a security camera upgrade in the jail. The project funding, which was pulled from the 2020 budget, cost just under $115,000. The upgrades will make the camera system more reliable and upgrade sections to digital recording.
When it came to additional information regarding the inmate death, Craft said there is no new information to report.
The Department of Aging presented a brief update. Gayla Ratzlaff said she was prepared to begin filing income taxes in mid-February. She informed the commission Lincolnville has discontinued commodities distribution, so residents will need to travel to Marion; Durham Senior Center has dissolved the organization, and residents seeking commodities will need to travel to Hillsboro; Burns Senior Center will likely be dissolved, as well. Burns still has commodities distribution
Isaac Hett with the Park and Lake Department discussed long-term camping options at the lake. Currently, outside of the trailer park, camping is allowed for two weeks at a time, with a required seven-day vacancy before returning for two weeks.
Trailers can be occupied for four days and three nights for up to two weeks and for up to two weeks during the summer. Trailers cannot be rented. There are also rules regarding water and electrical usage.
Hett said if long-term camping is allowed, “if someone stays in a spot for two or three months, it may ruin other people’s plans.”
The camping area does not have sewer hookups but does have water. However the lots with water have 30 amp power, while lots without water have access to 50 amp power.
Hett said in long-term camping situations, the power and sewer issues will need to be carefully considered.
The discussion was fueled by the potential need for housing for transient workers for the wind farm project in the county.
•An update was given from Road and Bridge, the commission approved a $15,359.60 expenditure on fuel-related costs.
•A resolution was passed adopting mileage reimbursement rates at 56 cents per mile.
•Commission will determine the date and time for a long-term planning session with the assistance of Wichita State University as a discussion moderator.