The Marion County Commissioners Board meeting heard from Marion County Health Department Administrator Diedre Serene when she gave an update on COVID-19. She reported that there are seven active cases and no hospitalizations. Marion County is currently in the green.
Serene explained that they have been holding vaccine clinics for the COVID-19 vaccinations, but they are now having a hard time filling all the slots. As a result, the county is going to start having the clinics once a week now. Serene stated that part of the reason for spots not filling up is that many, such as older people, don’t have a ride to the vaccination sites.
The health department does still have Johnson and Johnson vaccines, but they are holding them for now since there have been a small number of cases of people developing blood clots after getting that vaccine. She said they will resume giving them once they are able to again.
“People need to keep in mind that the percentage [of people who developed blood clots] is very low—7.2 million people have received the shot and six had blood clots. There are many drugs prescribed out there that have a higher percentage of issues. The FDA and pharmaceutical companies are taking precautions to look into it all,”said Serene. “If someone has had the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in the last few weeks, they need to contact their physician if they experience any headaches, abdominal pains, leg pains and/or shortness of breath.”
Serene recommended that people continue to get vaccinations if they haven’t because the number of positive COVID-19 cases have started gradually increasing again as people are letting their guards down and not taking the precautions they should.
Commissioner Jonah Gehring asked about the number of vaccines that have been given and Serene explained that it is hard to have an exact number because many in the county have gone to other counties to get them or to pharmacies who don’t have to report to the health department how many vaccines are given.
Road and Bridge
County Engineer Brice Goebel asked the commissioners to increase the cost share percentage for a project on Nighthawk. KDHE may approve the project and help with funding, but Goebel stated that the chances of being approved may be increased if the county can help provide more funding.
The commissioners had previously discussed doing 25 percent of the estimated 2.8 million dollar project.
“Every time you go up another five percent you are digging pretty deep,” said Commissioner Kent Becker.
“I look at it a little different ’cause I think that shows the state that we are willing to get it done. So far I see that we have to do something to get them interested,” said Commissioner Randy Dallke.
Gehring pointed out that if they don’t spend it now it will have to be spent next year. But if the county increases the money it puts in, the state will help and the project could get done earlier.
The commissioners and Goebel discussed different options of fixing it from chip seal to patches of asphalt.
“We have a good cross road and something to work with here which helps. It gives us more options,” said Goebel.
“If this project ends up being more than we can handle, what are our options? It’s not like someone can help us,” said Becker.
“What do you think would be best then Randy? 30 percent?” asked Commissioner Dave Mueller.
“I think so. It’s hard to know since we still don’t know what exactly will be involved with this project. But 30 percent should help us get it done,” said Dallke.
The commissioners unanimously approved the increase of 30 percent for the cost share for the project.
Goebel said he met with FEMA regarding the flooding in 2019. FEMA requested additional information that involves sending them around 40 pictures. Goebel said he will get the information to them as quickly as possible.
Becker asked what the plan is for the hard rock that has been stockpiled.
“I’m getting a lot of comments from people asking about it,” Becker said.
Goebel said that he needs to figure out where the best places are to put it and that everyone is wanting the hard rock.
“We definitely have less rock than places that need it,” said Goebel.
• Public Comments
In other business, the board:
n met in executive sessions for performance review of employees.
n heard the quarterly update from County Appraiser Carl Miller.
n approved a fuel bid for MFA for $18,108.80.
n heard the master plan update for Marion Reservoir from the Corp of Engineers
n heard the quarterly report from Sheriff Rob Craft. Craft and the commissioners discussed that the public often is frustrated and feels like situations don’t get resolved but they just take a long time. Craft spoke about a current case that his department has been working on for eight months. He stated that his department submits the information and evidence they have to the county attorney and then often he needs more for the case which takes time. Often the department is waiting on other agencies like doctors and more. Craft explained there is a process and it often takes longer than people would like.