Jail/courthouse plans

Randy Flowers, left, of Loyd Builders from Ottawa, and Kevin Rost of Goldberg Group Architects, St. Joseph, Mo., talk about Dickinson County’s new jail/courthouse renovation project during a pre-bid meeting Thursday morning in the basement meeting room of the courthouse.

While Dickinson County Commissioners were meeting Thursday, a pre-bid meeting for the new jail/courthouse renovation project was underway in the basement.

Conducted by Loyd Builders, Ottawa, construction manager for the project, and Goldberg Group Architects, the meeting was for contractors and vendors interested in bidding on the project. The county wants to have bids this spring.

“Hopefully, we’ll have some good interest on that,” Commissioner Craig Chamberlin commented.

County staff was available to lead interested parties around the courthouse, opening doors and showing them areas not usually available to the public.

“That way they’ll have some idea when they’re putting together their bid scope and details as to what they’re going to be dealing with,” said County Administrator Brad Homman.

Deputy coroners

Abilene’s newest doctor, Cayle Goertzen, was added to the list of assistant deputy district coroners during Thursday’s Dickinson County Commission meeting.

Commissioners okayed a resolution updating the list of approved deputy coroners.

Locally, Dr. Doug Sheern is the deputy coroner for Dickinson County and assistant deputy district coroners are doctors Megan Brown, William Short, Brian Holmes and Goertzen.

County Administrator Brad Homman noted that any of these physicians could be called in to serve if necessary.

Dr. Jimmy Jenkins from Geary County is the district coroner, appointed by the Geary County Commission.

Sales tax extension

Homman said he heard from Kansas Sen. Randall Hardy, R-Salina, regarding the status of a bill making its way through the Kansas Legislature that would allow Dickinson County to extend its road and bridge sales tax from five to 10 years — assuming voters re-authorize the sales tax in November.

House Bill 2033 would have allowed Dickinson County, along with Jefferson, Jackson and Thomas counties, to extend their sales tax initiatives.

However, a potential bump in the road occurred recently when a “correction” was made to the bill a couple of weeks ago, adding a non-related Finney County sales tax issue.

Hardy told Homman last week that the Kansas Senate had removed Dickinson and the other three original counties from HB 2033 into a different bill, HB 2160, which would allow those sales tax requests to be heard independently from Finney County’s issue.

“The Senate did approve that, but since the change was made on the Senate side it has to go back over to the House,” Homman said.

House Rep. John Barker, R-Abilene, thought HB 2160 should pass the House with no problem, Homman said. Barker visited with commissioners during work session.

If it does pass the House, it will then go to Gov. Laura Kelly for her signature.

“That way we can present it to our citizens in November asking for a 10-year sales tax, as opposed to five,” Homman said.

Dickinson County’s half-cent sales tax was approved by voters in November 2014 specifically to fund road and bridge projects.

Railroad crossings

Homman said the county continues to receive calls from residents about the condition of the Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad tracks on 2200 Avenue and Jeep Road. The county has reached out to ASVRR officials who are aware of the track problem and said they plan to visit with the county about solutions.

“We’re now nearing the asphalt season and we were hoping if (Road and Bridge Supervisor) Martin Tannahill needed to assist them with anything we’d get it done before we get knee deep in asphalt and chip seal,” Homman said.

Township meeting

New Commissioner Ron Roller said he attended the annual township meeting this past Monday night and it was a “good opportunity” to learn about “our county roads.”

Commission Chairman Lynn Peterson said there was a good turnout and the county had the opportunity to “give information about some of the maintenance and obligations we have for townships as well as county and state (requirements) to maintain reasonable roads for people to travel.”

Sixty-two people attended the township meeting, which was a little lower than usual, Homman said. Of those,38 were officers and 24 were operators or there in another capacity.

During comments, the commission heard from Peterson, who said he attended the Military Affairs Breakfast that morning in Junction City and heard a presentation from the Geary County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau that stated 1.3 million people visit Milford Lake on an annual basis, according to information that organization received from the state.

Peterson said Dickinson County is kind of an extension of the area because of its proximity. “We really have a great benefit there,” he said.

Contact Kathy Hageman at reporter@abilene-rc.com.

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