The Dickinson County commissioners and county department leaders met the morning of Jan. 13 for their monthly meeting. 

Marty Holt, register of deeds, attended her last department leader meeting that day, as she is retiring this month. Her retirement party is set for Jan. 31.

For agricultural values, Lisa Berg, county appraiser, said dry land and irrigated land are going down an average of $4 an acre. Grassland pasture is going up around $1-$2 an acre. The appraiser office is currently in the final steps of setting values for 2022. The deadline for setting the values is Jan. 21. Berg said about 60 people have notified the office about damages to their property from the Dec. 15 wind storm.  

John Hultgren, health department director, said the state of Kansas is currently averaging 750 new COVID-19 cases per day and 12 deaths per day. Hultgren said the state is no longer performing contact tracing as of Jan. 12. The state offered to perform contact tracing for counties back in the middle of December. Hultgren said most counties, including Dickinson County, chose to opt-in for the service. 

“The state has quickly become overwhelmed. They do about 1,000 contact cases per day. You can easily see when there are about 750 occurring per day, and they can only process 1,000. That wasn’t going to work,” Hultgren said.

In Dickinson County, Hultgren said there are an average of 50 new cases every day. 

For emergency services, Hultgren said the high call volume from 2021 continues into 2022. 2021 saw a little over 300 calls, breaking EMS’ previous record in 2018 by over 200 calls. The new EMS truck will be ready for pick up during the first week of February.

From the Sheriff’s Department, Jerry Davis, county sheriff, said the school resource deputy, Deputy Brandon Depew, began the Law Enforcement Against Drugs and Violence program in Herington School District last week. Davis said Depew thought the program was received well. 

Diane Greenough, county human resource director, said the county saw a 33 percent turnover rate in 2021. There were 19 family and medical leaves, 10 work compensation claims, 56 new hires and 49 turnovers.

From the Environmental Services Department, Derek Norrick, environmental services director, said the department had $160,000 in Noxious Weed Department sales in 2021. There were $127,000 in sales in 2020. Those numbers include the $2,000 for each township the department sprays in. Norrick said the price for spray materials changes every week, with most rising in price every month. The county will be adjusting its prices every month. 

“Some of these herbicides have doubled in price. It’s incredible,” Norrick said. 

Janelle Dockendorf, assistant county administrator, said she will be meeting with an auditor Feb. 22-23 for the county’s yearly audit. She said the county has received an items needed list, which the auditors want by the end of the month. 

Emily Nichols, emergency communications director, said calls increased by 8 percent in 2021 from 2020. There were 24,838 calls for service in 2021. Traffic accidents rose by 26 percent in 2021 from 2020, with 161 injury accidents. The time between the summer and winter of 2021 saw the highest number of injury accidents. Suicide calls decreased by 3 percent in 2021. Grass fires rose by 40 percent in 2021 with 86 total. EMS and fire calls rose by 17 percent in 2021. 

Martin Tannahill, road and bridge supervisor, said the road rates in the county have risen from an overall rating system, one being the worst and 10 being the best, of 4.95 in 2010 to 7.3 as of November 2021.

Cindy MacDonald, clerk of the district court, said 2,925 cases were filed in 2021, which is an increase of 780 from 2020. 719 of those 2021 cases are traffic cases. Those cases are a combination of the sheriff’s department and the Kansas Highway Patrol. The 2021 cases were an increase of over 370 compared to 2019 and an increase of 180 cases compared to 2018. MacDonald said there was a decrease in civil cases last year because of the federal mandate to prevent mortgage foreclosures or eviction of tenants. 

For the magistrate judge position opening, MacDonald said the 8th Judicial District Nominating Commission set the deadline for applications for Feb. 4 during their meeting Jan. 7. Interviews will be held March 4 in Geary County, which will set the new magistrate, if someone is selected, to start in April. 

Brad Homman, county administrator, said the courthouse renovations are “starting to move pretty quickly.” The end of construction is aimed to be done by the end of February, said Homman later during the commissioner’s regular meeting. EMS dispatch is scheduled to move back into the courthouse next week Jan. 19. Homman said he hopes to start moving other offices back into the courthouse in the first week of March.

“It takes a lot to move the technology that (dispatch has) functioning and to keep it operating at the same time. You obviously can’t shut dispatch down, take time to move it and turn it back on, so we have to be able to answer those calls,” Homman said later during the commissioner’s regular meeting. “So we’ll move one station, get it functional, then we’ll come back and move the other station so we always have at least one dispatcher that’s functioning and handle the call load and emergency calls that come in.”  

 

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