Way cleared for pipeline construction

The way is nearly clear for TransCanada Keystone to begin building its oil-sand slurry pipeline through Marion County en route to a Cushing, Okla., refinery.

County Attorney Susan Robson told the Marion County Board of Commissioners Monday that she will have a provisional contract Friday for their consideration regarding the Keystone project.

Acting Road and Bridge Director John Summerville brought a copy of the Keystone contract with Dickinson County which, commissioners said, they intend to use as a model for the Marion County agreement.

Keystone representative Tommy Darnell said the company?s intent is to pay for any repairs to fix damage caused by its company on county roads and bridges.

To ensure that it does, the commission engaged its consulting engineers firm of Kirkham-Michael of Ellsworth for planning Keystone?s route through the county.

Summerville is to bring back information next week to help determine whether to also use Kirkham-Michael for road inspection after construction, or whether to engage Kaw Valley Engineers of Junction City for that portion of the project.

Darnell reiterated Keystone?s earlier wish that the county act as the go-between with engineers for payment, and nobody with the county objected?although at earlier meetings commissioners said they would prefer that Keystone pay engineers directly.

Darnell said checks to the county for the engineers? work will be issued out of Keystone?s headquarters in Calgary, Alberta.

Commission Chairman Dan Holub, who was not at the meeting, but joined the Keystone discussion by teleconference, asked Robson to check for ambiguity with the use of the word ?reasonable? in the contract. He said the contract specified that Keystone will make repairs with ?reasonable efforts,? and by ?reasonable discretion.?

Commissioner Randy Dallke questioned how Keystone will transport on the job in the southern part of the county, whether from its pipeline yard at Pilsen, or from its railroad drop at Florence.

Darnell was unable to say.

Other business

The county?s overall annual property and liability insurance premium, including buildings and vehicles, went up this year by $2,000 over last year to $103,267, as presented by insurance agents Richard Nickel and Casey Case.

The policy was accepted 2-0 by commissioners with a reservation to look for ways to reduce the premium. This might be through higher deductibles or reducing coverage to liability on older vehicles not used by law enforcement.

The commissioners awarded a noxious weed department bid for 50 gallons of Pathway herbicide for $1,455 to Ag Service Inc. at Hillsboro over competitive bids of $1,540 from Markley Service of Marion and $1,662.50 from each of the cooperatives at Hillsboro and Tampa.

A road and bridge transport fuel bid of 4,000 gallons of clear diesel, 1,500 gallons of dyed diesel and 2,500 gallons of unleaded gasoline was awarded to Cooperative Grain & Supply of Hillsboro at $20,378 over a competitive bid of $20,638 from Cardie Oil of Tampa.

The commissioners also met Dec. 31 in a $787,280.52 payday meeting. County Clerk Carol Maggard reported the October sales tax, paid in November and received in December, at $45,423. She said that placed the year?s total sales tax nearly $24,000 over last year?s?at $600,165 compared to $576,118, the highest revenue in a decade.

Health Department administrator Diedre Serene announced that H1N1 flu immunizations now will be given free to the public on Wednesdays at the health department in Marion.

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