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County to apply for bridge reconstruction aid

Staff writer

Marion County commissioners gave a unanimous vote of approval to submit an application for bridge reconstruction to the Federal Highway Administration Monday.

If accepted, FHA will pay 80 percent of costs, with the county paying the remaining bill.

“I like the idea of going ahead with something,” commissioner Randy Dallke said. “This is future planning, and we need to do it for the future commissioners because maybe none of us will be sitting here.”

Road and Bridge director Jesse Hamm plans to apply for nine county bridges to be replaced in the hopes that a few are accepted.

“I’ve spoken to other engineers, I’ve spoken with many other counties, and everyone’s jumping on this quick,” Hamm said. “That’s why I’ve been beating my head on this, trying to figure it out.”

The plan, if accepted, will cost the county between $1.3 and $2 million in the future, with bids going out in 2026.

Hamm presented bids for two mowers. Low bid was $15,545 per mower, from Straub International. Commissioners chose to accept a G and R Implement Co. bid of $15,825 instead.

“I understand we do have a lower bid at Straub, which is out of Salina,” he said. “We’re looking at $31,000, a difference of $500, for a business in our county, G and R.”

Park and Lake superintendent Isaac Hett gave an update on roads at the county lake. He has a spoken agreement that the Park and Lake department will spread rock at the lake’s roads, if Road and Bridge supplies the gravel.

Hett wants to remove several dead locust trees from around the lake during the winter.

Dallke supported the move, but said they should receive training with the county’s bucket truck beforehand.

“I’m glad you’re putting it into a winter project,” commission chairman Dianne Novak said. “You can get a lot done if you have it identified now.”

The commission held an executive session to discuss litigation matters with county counselor Brad Jantz and county clerk Tina Spencer, though no decision was made.

The commission voted to seek a new auditor for the county budget, while staying with the firm Swindoll, Janzen,

Hawk, and Loyd to prepare the budget. The motion passed 2-1, with Dallke opposed.

Novak preferred the firm to handle the accounting because accountant Scot Loyd works well with Spencer. The familiarity sped up the process, but that applied to the auditing process, too, Spencer said.

“I can work with anybody, but they do have a good background,” she said. “They know our finances, the way our accounts are set up. That also helps them expedite the auditing.”

Ben Trout from EPM, Inc., an engineering and manufacturing group from Missouri, discussed the county’s energy usage.

Trout estimated total system costs between $72,000 and $100,000, but savings could be as high as $25,900 per year.

“I’d recommend you continue,” he said. “These savings are significant for a county courthouse. I didn’t expect it.”

The full savings of more than $25,000 are not likely because completely limiting electric use is impossible, he said.

“We try to work around that and not claim that we could save money by turning all the lights off,” he said. “That’s not practical.”

The matter was tabled.

“It can cost you some money, in electricity,” Dallke said. “I don’t know what the right one is because I haven’t made it yet.”

There was a second executive session to discuss personnel matters with health department administrator Diedre Serene, though no decision was made.

The commission had a third executive session with Jantz and Spencer, and decided to meet for a special session Friday to review employment applications and conduct an employment interview.

Last modified Oct. 11, 2018

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