Dickinson County

A couple recent unsuccessful cyber attacks on Dickinson County’s computer system has spurred an investment in new antivirus software.

“We’ve had a couple attempted attacks come through our firewall and into the software. Luckily, staff were able to deal with those,” County Administrator Brad Homman told commissioners on Aug. 23.

When staff researched what had happened, they discovered that the two antivirus programs the county was using did not stop the attack. In response, staff found a replacement program that should catch any future attempts.

“It (new program) would have caught those and should give us a lot more protection; however, when you increase that ability it comes at a cost,” Homman said.

The new software will cost approximately $5,000, compared to the $2,500 the county was spending on the previous program.

“But that extra $2,500 will be a small price to pay for the alternative of ending up like Barton or Butler County and having one of those come through our firewall and getting ransomware where we can’t function for who knows how long,” Homman said. “We’re doing everything we can to maintain the highest degree of security we can on our computer network.

Harvey County’s computer network was attacked in February, causing the courthouse to be closed one day and some offices unable to offer services for several days.

Dickinson County also is a member of a consortium through Homeland Security in Washington, D.C. that monitors the most recent threats throughout the nation.

“Which doesn’t preclude anything from happening,” Homman noted. “Employee education is also a very important component of that security function.”

Employees are advised to not open attachments or go to links that “don’t look right” and report it to county staff.

County fixes error

The commission approved a resolution Thursday that detached nine sections of property located in Union Township from Dickinson County Rural Fire District No. 2.

The resolution stops the double taxing of those nine sections.

“We’re cleaning up an error we made two years ago in oversight,” Homman said.

When Dickinson County Rural Fire District No. 2 was created two years ago it included the area covered by the Hope Fire Department. The fire district was created with the intention of squaring up fire district boundaries.

What was not known at the time was the fact that those nine sections in Union Township were already paying the Hope Fire Department to provide fire protection.

“We essentially have people in those nine sections that were paying taxes to Union Township for fire protection and now to Rural Fire District No. 2 for fire protection,” Homman said. “So they were getting double taxed.”

To correct the error, a petition was circulated among qualified electors living in the nine townships to obtain the number of signatures needed to make the change.

Bridge work continues

The bridge located at 2150 Eden Road over the Smoky Hill River at Sand Springs is expected to open today (Friday, Aug. 31), a couple days earlier than expected.

Another bridge replacement project at 970 Union Road is running ahead of schedule despite recent rains. Video showing work underway at both bridges can be viewed at the bottom of the homepage on the Dickinson County website at dkcoks.org.

In other matters:

• Commissioners approved a resolution declaring several I-beams that came from a project on 3200 Avenue as surplus. The county will not reuse the beams, but Homman said they were in fairly good shape and would be of use to someone. The beams will be sold on Purple Wave, the online auction site.

• Homman said he and Abilene City Manager Austin Gilley were talking about holding a retreat for county and Abilene City commissioners to discuss issues that affect both entities, primarily around the northwest corridor around Abilene. Oct. 1 has been set as a tentative date.

• Homman reported the sheriff’s department had arranged an extradition from Allegheny County, Penn., for Eric Millsap at the cost of $1,340, which will be taken out of the diversion fund.

• Homman said Economic Lifelines, a statewide coalition of organizations and community groups that provides grassroots support comprehensive transportation programs in Kansas, will meet in Salina Sept. 6. Dickinson County Engineer John Gough has compiled information he believes should be shared with the group. Commissioner LaVerne Myers will attend

• Commissioner Lynn Peterson, County Counselor Doug Thompson and Homman all commented on a Jackson County court case that is under appeal. The basic premise is to determine who pays the hospital bill when a suspect is injured and taken to a hospital but not placed under arrest.

All counties could be adversely affected if the ruling is upheld. Peterson said the Kansas Association of Counties likely would put money toward the appeal. Peterson is a KAC board member.

• Heard from Peterson who said he was contacted by two unrelated individuals who believe some sort of “artistic feature” should be included in the design of either the new jail or courthouse renovation.

“I reminded them sometimes those things cost money and they need to keep that in mind,” Peterson said.

Contact Kathy Hageman at reporter@abilene-rc.com

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