Sewer pipe leak causes health hazard at jail

Staff reporter

A leaky pipe in a place of business or a home is a nuisance. It is downright disgusting if the leaky pipe is full of sewage.

That's the case at Marion County Jail where a sewer line is getting a workout with 17 inmates and employees using a few toilets.

Marion County Commission toured the mess Monday morning and saw (and smelled) first-hand the damage caused by the leak.

The commissioners decided that regardless if a new jail is built or not, the sewer pipe has to be repaired — soon.

Raw sewage has soaked through the ceiling tiles of the main floor of the west side of the jail facility, dripping down on unsuspecting employees and pooling on the carpet.

County communications director Michele Abbott-Becker told the commission that when a fluorescent light had burned out in her office and was being replaced, there was liquid in the outer fixture that she believes is from the same sewer pipe leak.

Interior walls probably will have to be removed to reach and replace the leaking pipe which could be costly but regardless, the leak has to be repaired.

Sheriff Lee Becker will contact a contractor to make the repairs.

In other business:

— After approving a third work station a few weeks ago, commissioners Randy Dallke and Dan Holub appear to have changed their minds. Abbott-Becker said she had contacted architect Tony Rangle for design plans and was told by him that the commission was reconsidering the third work station.

A grant had been accepted by Abbott-Becker to pay for the equipment, at no cost to the county. Dallke said the question right now is whether to wait until after the bond election for a new jail to determine if the third work station is needed.

Abbott-Becker said a third work station is needed now and said it could have been used Friday night when there was a fatality car accident and domestic dispute going on at the same time. The third station also could be used during training of new dispatch personnel.

Holub asked what would happen if the third work station wasn't implemented. Abbott-Becker said the grant funds would have to be returned and it could jeopardize future grant funds being awarded to the county.

No clear decision was made.

— Abbott-Becker reported that Dickinson County Commissioner Sheila Biggs expressed her disappointment with Trans-Canada Pipeline Company because the counties within the construction area of the new oil pipeline will not receive tax revenue as originally promised.

The pipeline company had promised to pay taxes on equipment constructed and implemented in the Kansas counties but since has found a loophole to avoid paying the taxes. The company will divert some of the oil to a McPherson company which will make the Canada-based company a Kansas company and qualify for tax exemption on commercial equipment.

— The 10 chairs used by dispatch personnel were returned to the company from which they were purchased and Abbott-Becker is looking for some new chairs.

— Abbott-Becker requested and received a 10-minute executive session for personnel. The meeting reconvened with no decisions.