Commission back to talking about roads

The Marion County Board of Commissioners met for their regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 14.

With the cold and moisture, roads have returned as the main topic for the meetings.

Brice Goebel, county engineer, gave the commissioners his weekly update regarding the roads.

“We finished up Chisholm and put rock on there in anticipation of rain that never came. We will take top rock out there probably next week or when it isn’t as cold. If you haul it and try to work with it when too cold, it just clumps up and makes it difficult to work with,” Goebel said.

The commissioners and Goebel discussed the roads and the needs for them to be improved. They discussed the pros and cons of concrete vs. rock. Several commissioners expressed concerns with the expense of the road repairs and still having so many issues.

“The rock issue is a big issue in our county with budget and the amount of dollars we spend,” Commissioner Randy Dallke said. “It is our responsibility to keep rock on the roads and to keep our eye on the spending.”

Commissioner Kent Becker added, “The big thing is going to be to address the effectiveness of hard rock on potential ground or concrete and what kind of impact that is gonna have on our budget. It feels like we are just shooting arrows in the dark with some of the rock.”

Gehring said he thought they made some good groundwork with putting hard rock in trouble spots and testing the longevity of it to see what works.

“I think some of the method we have tried just doesn’t make sense—to put the hard rock down in a mud hole. You gotta have a base for that stuff. I think it pays you back on the total of that rock. I don’t mind the price of what we spend just so it has a chance to work for us,” Dallke said.

“I just hope the commission in the future continues on the same path. It costs more on the front end, but it makes the most sense in the long haul,” Commissioner Dianne Novak said.

“We definitely appreciate all the work you have put in on that. It has definitely opened up some eyes,” Commissioner Jonah Gehring said to Novak.

Goebel also reported that his department is meeting with FEMA regarding the information for flood damages from 2019. He estimates that they will be able to get around $400,000 for repairing the various damages.

“We don’t know with the federal government when we will get the money, but we can get everything ready to go on our end,” Goebel said.

COVID Update

Marion County Health Administrator Diedre Serence updated the commissioners on COVID-19 cases. There are currently 166 probable, 55 active, six hospitalizations and three vital-statistic-verified deaths.

Serene said that she has about 200 cases of 70 bottles each of hand sanitizer and will be getting them out to the senior centers and to the Ministerial Alliance. The board talked about other possibilities of facilities that need it, such as schools.

According to Serene, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has given a timeline to the health department regarding vaccines, with the reminder that the timeline is always subject to change.

“This week Kansas is receiving the first batch from Pfizer. There will be 20,375 doses that will go directly to hospitals dealing with COVID and will be used for healthcare-associated workers. Then the week of 12/28-12/30, 28,275 doses will be distributed to national pharmacies which are assisting long-term-care facilities. The week after that, there will be an additional 34,125 vaccines distributed to national pharmacies for distribution of long-term-care facilities,” Serene said.

She also said that once the Moderna vaccine is approved, it will be shipped out within 24 hours. That timeline is, on Dec. 22, 16,500 doses will be coming to Kansas for local health departments, and it is to go to health department staff and EMS workers.

“That same week, federally qualified medical centers will be getting 32,500 doses for healthcare-associated workers, and then Kansas will be getting 21,700 doses, and that will be determined where that will go the week of the 28th, and that will be specific for healthcare-associated workers,” she said.

Serene said that they will be combining the smaller health department shipments with other smaller health departments. She does not know where exactly the vaccine will be sent or exactly when.

Serene said that as long as the timeline is consistent, most nursing homes will be covered with the first dose by the end of the year. Health departments and EMS workers will also be able to have the first dose by the end of the year. They will then need a second dose.

“The state determines who the health care department can give the vaccines to,” Serene said.

She also brought up that, for the general population, the dose is free, but the health department has the option to charge an administrative fee. They will need to decide what they want to do when it gets to that point.

“Is it true that it would be quicker to just give the shot out without an administrative fee so we can get more covered?” Commissioner David Crofoot asked.

Serene agreed it would be easier to get through more applications if there are no administrative fees.

Weed/HHW/Transfer Station

Dave Mueller, newly elected District 2 commissioner who starts his term in January, relayed comments from citizens regarding the transfer station not being open at convenient hours.

Josh Housman, director of the transfer station, offered some suggestions to help provide better hours for the public to be able to bring items in. There have been complaints that the station is not open late enough for people to get off work and then get there.

“I can split my guys into two shifts when we need to cover. I can have some come in earlier and work ’til 3 and then others come in later and have them stay ’til 5 or 6,” Housman. said

It was also brought up that Saturday mornings are helped as well, but it wouldn’t cover everyone needing to bring items in.

The commissioners and Housman discussed the issue that many rural county residents no longer have trash trucks or recycling come to them, making it necessary for them to use places in Marion, including the transfer station. Residents get frustrated when they bring their trash in but can’t drop off recyclables and items at the transfer station.

The meeting ended with a guest who came to encourage the board.

David McGinnis, formerly of Marion County and now living in Hesston, came to let the commissioners know that he was involved in Kingdom Life Ministries and they have been meeting to pray for all of the counties and commissioners in Kansas.

“We felt like we needed to pray for you, so we took three different weekends and did that,” McGinnis said.

He also presented the commissioners with cards and a map signed by all of those who had been praying for them.

The commissioners thanked him for his kindness.

In other business, the board:

•went into executive session to discuss personnel performance with Transfer Station Director Josh Housman. No action taken

•approved minutes from meetings last week

•approved salary changes

•approved and signed the notice of the award of the watershed project to Nelson-Fowles, LLC.

•met again in executive session for personnel performance.

•met as the canvass board for tie breaker for township positions from the 2020 elections. The results will be available on the county website.