Marion County Commission stressed the importance of repairing county roads and talk of roads dominated the later part of its meeting Monday.
The commission approved a revised bid for the 330th Road project of $1,934,999, down $230 after John Riggins from Kirkham/Michael reevaluated the bid.
Although Mike Benjamin from Union Pacific Railroad could not make it to the meeting, commissioners briefly discussed the railroad’s plan for a crossing at 150th Road.
Road and Bridge Superintendent Randy Crawford said the railroad plans to place a second track alongside the current track at least a mile in length to allow faster trains to pass slower trains. Commissioners said the plan would likely fit in the railroad’s 50 to 60 foot easement. The plan would take out a crossing at 150th and would redirect traffic through turnarounds. Landowners in the area have been notified of Union Pacific’s intentions.
After talking with USD 408 Superintendent Lee Leiker, Crawford agreed to put in rock on 180th Road, between Quail Creek and Remington Roads for a bus route for the USD 408 school district. The commission approved the road work.
Commissioners asked Crawford to look at two different roads: 90th Road near Goessel and the rail crossing at 240th featuring a sharp incline.
“It’s terrible,” Crawford said of 90th. “You just can’t stay on top of it with 2 or 3 inches of rain. Nothing is freezing and staying frozen.”
In general, Crawford said current weather conditions are keeping the department from working on roads.
Crawford also informed the commission that seismic testing for oil is being conducted near Burns. The crew of testers operates out a of semi truck and plans to test all over Marion County.
The council approved a motion to allow two cases in the demolition waste subsidy plan that were approved for financing in the year 2011 but were not collected by Dec. 31.
Two property owners have structures, one in the Marion city limits and the other at Marion County Lake, that they said they would demolish. Commissioners gave property owners 90 days to complete the demolition projects. The limit at the transfer station for the refuse related from the demolition is 25 tons.
“My feeling is we approved it for 2011 and if we didn’t set a deadline, we should follow through,” commissioner Roger Fleming said.
Environmental Health Director Tonya Richards also asked the commission about allowing Kansas Department of Health and Evnvironment sanitarians to meet March 8 at the lake hall. The commission asked Richards to confer with Marion County Park and Lake Superintendent Steve Hudson to make sure the lake hall would be in operation.
County Appraiser Cindy Magill informed the commission of several developments with 2012 values.
First, cultivated land agriculture values have increased because average commodity prices from 2003 to 2010 have increased.
In the opposite direction, Magill said residential properties are decreasing in values accounting in a 3-year average period of economic downturn.
Two bills before the Kansas State Senate were also discussed. The first was revising the personal property tax on boats. The tax would be collected where the boat is most often used, Magill said.
“That will tip some canoes,” Commission Chairman Dan Holub said.
“It generally works both ways,” Fleming countered citing citizens who house their boats in county during the winter and then use them somewhere else.
Another proposal in the senate would be to make county appraisers an elected official.
County Clerk Carol Maggard brought the status of the courthouse clock tower to the commission’s attention. The frame at the bottom of the clock face is deteriorating and there is water inside the clock, which could damage it.
Maggard wants someone to look at the clock. The last time there was a problem David Seay of Regulator Time Company of Manhattan examined the clock face.
“It’s not going to be cheap to have him even just look at it,” she said.
Maggard will attempt to secure bids from roofing companies. The likely cause of the water in the clock is from a leaking roof. Two possible roofers are Flory Roofing and Construction from Hesston and Roofing Services Unlimited from Newton.
“Not may roofing companies are capable of doing what we need,” Maggard said.
Maggard also went over Health Insurance bids from three competing companies — Aflac, Colonial, and Loyal American. In the figures Maggard gathered, Loyal American had the most inexpensive premium and coverage for cancer and critical illness plans. Maggard gave commissioners the information to discuss further next week.
Two new custodians were also introduced: Michael Hurst and Tish Vinduska. Hurst will receive $1,733 per month while Vinduska will receive $1,603 per month.
Sheriff Robert Craft met with commissioners for 40 minutes in executive session to discuss personnel. There was no decision from the commission as a result of the session.
Craft also updated the commission on the status of the jail, including a search for industrial strength freezers and a key system.
The next Marion County Commission meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.