State and county caution on burning right now

On March 8, Gov. Laura Kelly issued a State of Disaster Emergency due to a high risk of wildland fires and red flag warnings. On Monday afternoon, at their regular weekly meeting, the Marion County Commissioner Board extended that state of emergency into the county based on the recommendation of Emergency Preparedness Director Randy Frank.

Frank has also sent out several press releases banning burns at this time due to the high danger of wildland fires. He asks everyone to be extremely cautious.

The board also heard from other department heads during the administrative portion of the meeting.

During her written weekly report, Marion County Health Department Administrator Diedre Serene informed the commissioners that the county is currently at 10 active cases, 3 viable cases and no hospitalizations. Marion County is currently in the green zone.

She also stated that the health department and Hillsboro Community Hospital are continuing to give out immunizations to individuals the rest of the month.

Serene thanked all of the volunteers and city and county officials who have helped out with the entire immunization process.

Commissioner Dave Crofoot thanked Serene for her efforts in completing the application for a $158,000 COVID relief grant in under 72 hours.

Road and Bridge County Engineer Brice Goebel gave the commissioners the updated numbers on the culverts from the discussion the previous week. He explained that there were 59 cross road pipes/culverts (CRP) and 12 field/road entrances in the section he is concerned about the most. He also reminded the board that if they are close enough where they can get a road entrance pipe repaired at the same time, too, they will.

Goebel explained an issue of a resident deciding to fix the county road he lived on causing more damage. Another issue involved a landowner attempting to repair a culvert, moving it 100 feet away. He expressed concern about liability for the county as well.

“We have several choices. We can go in and tell them they need to remove it. Or we can go in and have them remove it,” said County Attorney Brad Janz.

“The thing that gets me is it starts something of ‘hey, I just mess it up more and then Road and Bridge has to come along and fix it’ and then we have that happening all over the county,” said Goebel.

“We would be setting a precedent,” agreed Janz.

Goebel went on to explain that the resident tore out trees and moved rock and did other damage.

Goebel explained his frustration with knowing how to resolve the issue since going out and fixing it sets a precedent for others, but hiring someone to fix it and then charging the landowner also creates frustrations for them. The actions also created issues on the road for traffic coming through. Goebel took precautions by placing barricades to allow for flashing lights to warn drivers.

The commissioners suggested a permit process for those landowners who do want to address entrance pipes or other road issues that they want to handle which would still give the county ability to have approval and input into the repairs.

The matter was discussed further but no resolution was reached.

Goebel recommended Steve Hudson for the superintendent position that had been vacated last year by Jesse Hamm.

Planning/Zoning/Env Health Director Sharon Omstead updated the commissioners on a Street

Vacation Petition filed by Dan Bernhardt. The Planning Commission held a public hearing on February 25 and voted unanimously to approve it.

According to the petition “all of the right-of-way for that portion of West Street (Narrow) north of the intersection of West (Narrow) and First Street (194th Terrace) between Block 3 and Block 4, and; all of the right-of-way for First Street (194th Terrace) east of the intersection of First (194th Terrace) and Main Street (Navajo) between Block 2 and Block 7, and; all of the right-of-way for Main (Navajo) north of the intersection of Main (Navajo) and First (194th Terrace) between Block 2 and Block 3, and; all of the dedicated alley on Block 6 between Lots 1 through 6 and Lots 7 through 18; all in the Plat of Canada Townsite, Marion County, Kansas. All building setbacks, as outlined in the Marion County Zoning Regulations, shall be enforced.”

After some input from Janz on wording of the petition, the commissioners all approved and signed off on the petition.

In other business, the board:

n approved the final SPARK report. There were no changes from last month’s report.

n signed off on previously approved county payroll raises

n accepted MFA transport fuel bid of $19,373.30.

n saw suggested plans for the new county EMS and fire station building and voted to accept a submitted proposal of the plan from Nelson-Fowles, LLC

n heard an update from EMS Director Travis Parmley stating that ambulance calls are about the same for this quarter as they were the previous year.

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