Commissioners consider plans for courthouse

Commissioners are considering additions/upgrades for the county?s historic courthouse. Preliminary plans from Treanor Architects in Topic would be a $7 million project. Free Press file photo
Commissioners are considering additions/upgrades for the county?s historic courthouse. Preliminary plans from Treanor Architects in Topic would be a $7 million project. Free Press file photo

The Marion County Com???mission Monday looked at plans for what could become an estimated $7 million project for additions and upgrades to the courthouse.

The plans could include eliminating the current county extension office and construction of a two-story addition that would resemble the stonework of the current courthouse.

Other counties in Kansas are doing similar upgrades, said Andy Pitts with Treanor Architects, Topeka, with one doing a similar project at $9 million financed with bonds paid for with a special sales tax.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said Marion County might want to complete a metal storage building for temporary housing of some county offices before such a project is completed.

He and Commission Chair Dan Holub said bond financing supported by sales tax of the county jail might have to be completed first.

Commissioner Lori Lalouette was not at the meeting; Dallke said she would need to be part of the discussion before any decisions are made.

Pitts said the plans could be ?kept conservative to begin with,? perhaps with more limited construction and additions.

The project could break out to about $170 a square foot, he said.

Under most options, the Treanor plans, presented by Pitts and coworker Gwen Gigona, would allow for only one secure entrance at floor level on the south side of the courthouse.

Dallke said he especially would like the north entry of the courthouse closed because people have fallen on the steps.

Under one plan, the economic development office, the department of aging and the extension office could be moved to the entry floor.

The second floor might house an expanded commission room with the current room used as a break room and an expanded office for the county clerk.

The third floor could house expanded the court clerk?s office, and offices for the judge and for a visiting judge.

County Clerk Tina Spencer said the pricing seemed in line with estimates of perhaps nearly $400,000 to move health department offices alone to the courthouse square.

Dallke said the Treanor plan helps the commission know ?where we might be? in regard to proceeding with addition and remodeling.

He and Dallke both said they would want the historic integrity of the courthouse preserved.

The commissioners agreed to pay $10,500 county share for reconstruction of the Lalouette Bridge south of Florence.

County Health Admini?strator Diedre Serene said her department has investigated an infection of rabies in a herd of cattle. Some cattle exhibit symptoms of the disease by becoming docile while other animals in the herd may do so by becoming aggressive, she said.

She said county residents should make sure that any pets they handle, such as dogs and cats, are vaccinated for rabies.

Skunks and raccoons frequently have the disease.

Diseased animals, Serene said, must be destroyed. Humans infected with rabies, usually from animal bites transferring saliva, are treated with four shots that cost $300 each, she said.

County Attorney Susan Robson said taxpayers notified that their land will be auctioned to pay unpaid taxes have now paid $71,000 to redeem it, about half of the real estate scheduled to go to tax auction.

The commissioners voted 2-0 to allow a taxpayer whose property was mistakenly listed with a former owner to pay the original amount of $95.76 instead of $191.76 with penalties.

The commissioners agreed to pursue a recommendation by commis?sioner Leroy Wetta to seek cooperation from a landowner for straightening a curve in the Cottonwood River to help protect a bridge west of Marion on Old Highway 81.

The commissioners approved a noxious weeds chemical bid from CPS for $9,417.60 including 40 gallons of Dicambra, 24 quarts of Milestone, 20 gallons of Milestone and 256 ounces of Escort over competitive bids of $10,336.64 from Van Diest and $10,855.60 from Ag Service.