County news

The transportation department shows Dickinson County’s population at approximately 18,700 residents, instead of the 19,700 determined by the 2010 U.S. Census —‑ the last official count.

Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) estimates show that Dickinson County has lost about 1,000 residents in the last six years or so.

Dickinson County Administrator Brad Homman passed that news on to county commissioners while explaining it’s time for the county to review the size of commission districts.

Every three years, counties are required to make sure commission districts meet statutory requirements requiring each district to be as equal in population and compact as possible, Homman said.

However, nothing needs to be done in Dickinson County because there’s less than one-tenth of a percent change.

“There’s really no change to the size of the districts required at this point,” Homman explained. “But what was a little eye opening to me was the population numbers we have lost over the last six years or so, according to KDOT estimates.”

The transportation department shows Dickinson County’s population at approximately 18,700 residents, instead of the 19,700 determined by the 2010 U.S. Census —‑ the last official count.

“I don’t know what that’s from or what to attribute that to, so the numbers in each one of your districts has basically reduced comparably,” Homman said. “But it doesn’t require redistricting or anything like that.”

Commissioners should expect to see the redistricting resolution review at the next meeting, he said.

Police pursuit vehicles

The commission approved bids to purchase three new leased vehicles from Dick Edwards Auto Plaza in Junction City. Funds were set aside in the 2020 budget to cover the expenditure, Homman said.

Sheriff Gareth Hoffman met with commissioners during work session to present the bids commissioners later approved for three 2020 Dodge Durango police pursuit SUVS, each priced at $32,658 for a total of $97,974.

Fair Road bridge temporary fix

Road and Bridge employees last week placed steel plates on a bridge in the 2700 block of Fair Road to cover new potholes that recently developed.

The bridge already is scheduled for replacement this summer and the plates are a temporary fix. The bridge decking has been comprised over the years by the corrosive action of salt and chemicals used to treat roadways to make them safer for drivers in snow and ice.

Martin Tannahill, road and bridge department supervisor, recently met with representatives from Schwab-Eaton, the consulting engineering firm for the planned bridge replacement project, to talk about solutions.

“The engineer and Martin think the plates will hold until we do the construction,” Homman told commissioners. “We’ve got a couple weeks before bids are in and we’ll know more about the time frame.”

Project bids are due in mid-February.

Last week, Homman told commissioners that possible bidding contractors have reported they are already booked in the spring during the time county officials wanted the bridge replaced.

Thus, bids for any project with a March-April start time could come back “extremely high,” and that was before the most recent damage was discovered on the bridge decking. So, the project will be bid with two possible start times -- one in spring and the other in summer to see which would cost less.

Welcome back

Retired County Engineer John Gough has agreed to provide engineering consulting services to the county, Homman said.

“Not only to satisfy our county engineer requirement by law but to support Martin (Tannahill) whenever he needs it at a monthly fee, so we will be able to utilize his (Gough’s) services,” Homman said. “We’ll quit the search for a county engineer for the time being and we’ll be able to continue the same service and expertise we’ve got with John for a number of years.”

Gough retired in July, finishing up a 50 year career in engineering, 12 years of which were spent working for Dickinson County. Since then, the county has been advertising the county engineer position to no avail.

Having Gough work as a consulting engineer will save the county approximately $80,000 per year “over paying the full salary and benefits he would normally get,” Homman said.

Other

• Long-time Environmental Services Director Randy Barten has announced his plans to retire on May 1. Homman said he and Human Resource Director Diane Greenough will begin work on a succession plan “to replace those several hats (Barten) has worn over the years,” he said.

Environmental services covers several areas including noxious weeds, sanitation, the transfer station, hazardous household waste and others.

• Homman reported the county will help cover some medical expenses of an 82-year-old woman who tripped and fell over a rolled up rug in the hallway near the sheriff’s department. It’s believed a contractor working on the new jail rolled up the carpet to get carts in and out.

“We are fortunate she did not require emergency medical treatment or anything,” Homman said, explaining that he had he apologized to her. “She was more concerned that the problem didn’t happen again.”

• An agenda item to consider bids to purchase a new asphalt machine was tabled.

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

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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