County news

In one of the longest meetings in months, the Dickinson County Commission kicked off the new year Thursday by appointing officers, approving resolutions, hearing operations updates and conducting other business.

The 2019 Commission Chairman Lynn Peterson will serve as chairman once again and Commissioner Ron Roller will remain vice-chairman. Roller made the motion, seconded by Commissioner Craig Chamberlin.

“Ron mentioned earlier in work session he was comfortable with what we had before,” Peterson explained. “We’re not trying to break tradition or change anything. It’s just what we decided to do for this next year.”

Traditionally, the previous year’s vice-chairman has taken the reins as chairman in the new year.

Work session start time

A new change for 2020 involves moving the weekly Thursday work session start time to 9:30 a.m. The commission felt the previous 9 a.m. start time was not necessary. Peterson noted that if the commission needed extra time — like during budget planning — the start time could be altered.

The official weekly meeting will begin at 11 a.m., the usual start time.

Diversion money

The commission approved two requests from the sheriff’s department to use diversion funds. The requests had already been approved by County Attorney Andrea Purvis.

The first request for $2,850 will be used to purchase software that will allow deputies to diagram accidents on mobile data terminals located in their vehicles.

This past May, a new records management system for law enforcement and public safety agencies went live, but the software that allows deputies to diagram accidents was not included.

Having that software means deputies do not have to return to the office to finish their reports, explained County Administrator Brad Homman.

The second request for $2,995 will be used to purchase software, systemware and training for one deputy to learn how to extract information from cell phones suspected of being used during the commission of a crime.

Homman said the deputy will then be able to “plug into a cell phone and extract data if the suspect is using a cell phone to sell drugs or whatever,” he explained.

More flashing stop signs

Road and Bridge Supervisor Martin Tannahill and his crews installed three additional flashing stop signs in the county and replaced a fourth one that was destroyed late last year by vandals.

The new flashing stop signs are located on Fair Road and Old 40 Highway for drivers going “southbound at the ‘T’ intersection,” Homman said. The second is at 1400 Avenue and Jeep Road for southbound traffic.

The third is located on the north side of Old 40 Highway and Jeep Road to southbound traffic.

“We already had one for northbound traffic at that intersection so now we’ve got them on both sides,” Homman reported.

The replaced sign was located at Jeep and 2200 Avenue.

“I looked at all three of those after dark at night and during the day and they are working very well,” Homman added. “It remains to be seen if they prevent accidents, but everything we’ve seen so far and from the positive comments we’ve got, we think they’ll be a huge positive thing to prevent vehicle accidents at those intersections.

New 911 radio equipment

The commission voted to enter into an agreement with TBS Electronics for $148,101 plus $21,000 for 911 radio equipment.

Back in October, the county received a grant from the Kansas 911 Coordinating Council for $151,619.50 to upgrade radio consoles in the county’s 911 dispatch center.

Twenty-year-old equipment, purchased in April 2000 when the countywide 911 system was created, needs to be replaced. While a few components were replaced over the years, the grant is funding a “complete replacement of the dispatching console system” including a third console. Currently, the local 911 dispatch only has equipment for two dispatchers.

While meeting with TBS Electronics, the 911 equipment and service provider, the amount needed to purchase equipment was “fine-tuned down” to $148,101 and county officials decided to purchase a $21,000 five-year extended service plan.

With the extended service plan, the county will have to pay a little “out of pocket,” Homman said.

Other

In an unrelated matter, the commission signed an audit engagement letter with Varney & Associates to conduct the annual audit at a cost of $18,200. The commission signed an agreement in the past of its intention to use the firm for at least three years for $18,200 annually during the time period.

Commissioners also approved the appointment of James Harbaugh as Banner Township trustee.

The commission approved a number of resolutions for appointments, committees and functions, including:

• Appointing Dr. Brian Holmes as the Dickinson County health officer;

• Appointing Public Building Commission members James Hedstrom of Abilene and Gabriel Simmons of Herington for a term of three years. Both are current members;

• Appointing Claire Anderson and Wally Wolfe, both of Abilene, as Dickinson County Planning Commission members;

• Approving the GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) waiver, an annual housekeeping item;

• Designating courthouse hours and holiday closures; adopting the payroll calendar, pay schedule and official fee schedule (published on the county website);

• Naming the Reflector-Chronicle as the official newspaper and banks throughout Dickinson County as official depositories.

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

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

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