Commission hears about COVID-19, roads

The Marion County Board of Commissioners met on Monday, March 16 although Chairman Jonah Gehring was absent due to being out of town. Commissioner Randy Dallke filled in for Gehring and served as acting chairman.

Commissioners heard from EMS Director Travis Parmley regarding the role of EMS during this uncertain time with the COVID-19 (coronavirus) and even EMS workers being quarantined.

Parmley mentioned that a few of his staff was sick last week and went into volunteer quarantine until they could be tested. They tested negative and all was fine, but it raised questions as to what the commissioners considered ideal for the county.

“We need to give him the latitude to do the stuff to do what he needs to do,” said Commissioner Randy Dallke regarding Parmley’s ability to staff the ambulances for the county.

“I need three to fully staff a truck. I have seven normally. Are you okay if worst-case scenario, we run one truck?” Parmley asked of the commissioners.

The commissioners discussed various scenarios but suggested waiting for County Health Department Administrator Diedre Serene to come later in the meeting to determine the best approach.

Road and Bridge

Brice Goebel gave updates to the commissioners.

Goebel explained that he was able to submit a plan and got approval to do lights, rubble strips, signage and more to improve the intersection of Nighthawk Road and 190th Road.

According to the Press Release from KDOT, Marion County received $152, 000 to improve safety in the intersection on rural roads across the state as part of the Kansas Department of Transportation’s High-Risk Rural Roads (HRRR) program.

Improving safety is KDOT’s top priority, and we’re pleased to work with communities to improve safety for traveler on rural county roads and city streets,” said Kansas Secretary Julie Lorenz. “By working together, we can make taxpayer dollars go farther and strengthen transportation infrastructure throughout the state.”

Counties sent in 33 applications from November 2019 to February, requesting more than $10.5 million in federal funds for this program. Projects were selected earlier this month. The funds are for Federal Fiscal Year 2022.

Projects in this program fall into one of two categories – Systemic or Site Specific. Projects in the Systemic category are 100% federally funded and aren’t required to provide a match. Site-Specific projects are 90% federally funded, and a county contributes a minimum of 10% of the project cost.

Goebel also stated that Century Link wants to do a new line between Highway 90 and Chisholm. The commissioners approved this.

Goebel shared that part of the problem with the roads getting covered with rock is that the county has lost three drivers in the last several months to other jobs. They have trucks but not drivers. As a result getting to any complaints is taking about 3-6 days.

The commissioners discussed the best way to handle this. While Commissioner Dianne Novak continued to demand that the state-issued rock be used, other commissioners and Goebel asked for substandard rock to be approved for the emergency fillings.

“I don’t know to go 90 mile for (approved) rock for muck makes sense right now, Dianne,” said Dallke.

“So this is just a temporary thing and then we will get back and do a more permanent fix with the correct rock,” said Novak.

“But when you have three pages of people needing stuff, get a man out now for a fix, and then we can go back in and fix it more permanently,” said Commissioner Kent Becker. “The hard rock that we have put down in a wet situation, it appears to me, that we are going to be able to tell pretty quick if we are gong to be able to tell, if this is worth it.”

“Brice, I think you have our blessing at this time during the rain to try some of the other rock, you have it, as long as it is two inches and above,” said Dallke.

The commission approved a motion to use inferior rock for the next 60 (or 90? check the end of 22) days to fill mud holes and then go back and put permanent, approved rock in after the time is up.

Marion County Health Department regarding COVID-19

Diedre Serene, Administrator for the Health Department shared some statistics and information.

“Average incubation period is about five days. About 80 percent of patients with confirmed COVID-19 have mild symptoms,” said Serene. “As of Saturday, no children, even in China, no children have died.

If we are closing school, it isn’t so that you can go to the movies or pizza place or other places. Avoid places with a lot of people.”

While Serene was honest and direct about the seriousness about the matter and the need to isolate and distance oneself, she emphasized the positive outcomes of handwashing and following social isolation.

If one did experience symptoms, Serene emphasized the importance of seeking the counsel of your provider.

“Call before you go in. If you are a candidate for testing, they will give you specific directions for what to do next. And do call your healthcare provider if you have been around a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have traveled to an area with it,” said Serene.

She directed everyone to the KDHE website as well as to the CDC. She reminded everyone that the KDHE typically batches tests at 9 and 5 and said that the KDHE is currently keeping up with the kits, but as testing goes up, supplies go down. She also reiterated that the commissioners approved the emergency status allowing for emergency funding.

In other business, the Commissioners:

n approved $2000 Emergency IT money for Randy Frank

n then approved $5000 emergency money related to the virus for all emergency heads including Randy Frank as needed.