Summer is roadwork season in Kansas and Dickinson County is no exception.
County road and bridge crews finished overlaying 1700 Avenue Wednesday from the Saline County line to Kansas Highway 15 and planned to start work Thursday on Jeep Road from 1400 Avenue to Interstate 70.
“If you drive on 1700 Avenue you’ll see they’re doing an excellent job,” said County Administrator Brad Homman.
A video showing some of the work can be found on the Dickinson County website at www.dkcoks.org by clicking on the link named “Asphalt Project 2020” near the bottom of the homepage.
Ricky Sekulich of the county’s GIS department filmed the drone video.
“We’re proud of that project. We’re very appreciative of getting a new machine. It made a world of difference,” Homman said.
Several weeks ago, the commission approved the purchase of a new asphalt machine that is being used on the paving projects. The new machine has better sensors and improved functions, which means a better finished product.
Homman said the county is saving a “tremendous” amount of money by doing the work in-house and not contracting it out, like has been done in past years.
This summer’s asphalt paving project consists of 18 miles of asphalt at a cost of $72,000 per mile for a total project cost of $1.3 million.
The project is made possible by the half-cent sales tax collected specifically for road and bridge projects, reauthorized by voters in November 2019.
COVID cases up
As announced by the Dickinson County Health Department Wednesday, Dickinson County has now reported its seventh and eighth positive cases of COVID-19.
Although the number of cases is increasing, Homman said the county is fortunate when compared to numbers being reported in neighboring counties.
Commissioner Craig Chamberlin asked if Dr. Brian Holmes, the county health officer, felt the county would need to go back to phase 2 of the COVID-19 reopening plan due to the increased numbers being seen again in Kansas.
Homman noted that as a physician, Dr. Holmes has a better grasp on the COVID situation then he has as county administrator.
Homman said Holmes had emailed him Thursday morning indicating he wanted to meet with Homman to “make some amendments” to the reopen plan.
“I don’t know how to take that. I assume since we’re kind of ‘phased out’ at this point, we can’t phase out anymore,” Homman answered. “It’s probably going to be some restrictions put back in place in light of the couple of big jumps up in Saline County, some in Geary and Clay counties.”
COVID mitigation expenses
During the June 18 meeting, Homman reported that Kansas counties would be receiving funds from the federal government allocated to states to distribute locally for COVID-19 expenses, Homman said.
Johnson and Sedgwick counties will receive a direct disbursement from the federal government because of their size. All other counties will receive money based on a per-resident formula.
Each county is tasked with distributing that money to its municipalities and school districts to help with COVID-19 related expenses and mitigation.
Dickinson County is scheduled to receive $3.6 million to be parceled out, Homman said. The county will serve as the fiscal agent and has to ensure monies are used for COVID-19 expenses.
“We don’t know if it (money) will come in whole or in part, but we do need to come up with a plan. We’ve scheduled a meeting next week with the cities and school districts,” Homman said. “We don’t know what it looks like at this point, but we’re looking at a short window to do this.”
Homman said last week it’s important that money only be spent on COVID-19 related expenses. Otherwise, the county — as fiscal agent — could be “on the hook” if money is spent on something that does not qualify.
Before the county can receive any funds, the commission will need to pass a resolution by July 8, Homman said. Plans are to place the resolution on the July 2 agenda.
• A contractor from the Kansas Department of Transportation will be surveying Dickinson County roads to determine where the county should spend its money to help improve safety as part of KDOT’s “Drive to Zero” program which means zero accidents, Homman said.
“They will look at all our county roads. They’ll look at intersections, traffic patterns. They’ll look at accident crash data and they’ll come back and give us an idea where we should put our money to get the best bang to improve the safety factor,” he explained.
While the state has reduced the number of accidents tremendously in the past decade, there are still a large number of crashes.
“The more data they collect, the more we learn about how to try and mitigate those,” Homman said. “I don’t know whether driving to zero accidents is realistic or not, but the theme is to try and get it down as well as we can.”
Participation in the program is mandatory for any entity received federal money for roads or bridges, he said.
• Chamberlin noted a dangerous intersection on Old Highway 40 near the transfer station where the county might need to look into purchasing additional right-of-way in a cornfield that obstructs line of sight.
Homman noted a nearby area where trees obstruct the line of sight where the county might also need to purchase right-of-way.
• Commissioner Chairman Lynn Peterson said it is important that everyone fill out the 2020 census.
• Commissioners approved an interlocal agreement with the city of Enterprise creating a Neighborhood Revitalization Program. Enterprise was one of the only communities in the county that did not have the program, Homman said.
He noted that Chuck Scott with the Dickinson County Economic Development Corp is working with the city of Enterprise to give them some tools to promote growth and expansion.
• Commissioners approved an agreement with the State of Kansas for health insurance for county employees.
Dickinson County participates in the State of Kansas’ non-state employee healthcare program that provides Blue Cross/Blue Shield coverage for county staff. Homman said the agreement is on a three-year rolling contract and this is the year for renewal.
“We have been very pleased with it,” Homman said. “Otherwise, we would have to have another staffer deal with it, doing the recording and monitoring and things like that.”
Contact Kathy Hageman at email@example.com.