County news

The reporting of Dickinson County COVID-19 statistics was a topic of discussion during Thursday’s county commission meeting.

Commission Chairman Lynn Peterson said an individual stopped by to see him wanting to know how COVID information is distributed and questioned its placement in the local newspaper, the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle.

Peterson related he told the individual that the health department reports numbers on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That information is on the home page of the Dickinson County website at www.abileneschools.org and is also on the Dickinson County Health Department Facebook page.

Brad Homman, county administrator, said the COVID information is a “moving target” and has to be gathered from various sources.

“The state no longer calls or sends us that data. We have to call and collect it,” Homman said, reiterating what Dickinson County Health Department Director John Hultgren reported at a recent meeting.

“We not only get information from KDHE (Kansas Department of Health and Environment), we have to get it from the various labs that are doing the work,” Homman said, explaining health department staff have to call several places and visit various web portals to compile information.

“I don’t know what John’s (Hultgren) opinion is, but if we’re within two or three people of being accurate we’re doing good at any given time. It’s a moving target continuously,” Homman said.

“It’s a good thing our numbers are low,” he added. “I don’t know what to attribute that to, but when we look at our neighbors (counties) to the east and west their numbers are going through the roof. We’re pretty fortunate we’re still below 100 (positive cases) going into seven, eight months into it. I think that’s pretty miraculous.”

With Dickinson County schools now in session, Homman said county health officials are keeping a close watch to make sure no clusters develop. Sherry Massey, Dickinson County’s GIS/IT director created a program for schools to enter information when a child is sent home sick.

As for how it’s reported in the newspaper, Peterson said the county is not purchasing ad space for COVID reporting so “if the newspaper decides to put it in a paragraph or paragraph form that’s their call,” Peterson commented.

“Sometimes I think they do have a more definitive article or it gives the actual numbers on how many new cases and so on, but it kind of goes back to you can’t always please everyone on exactly how it is done,” Peterson said.

“Some people out there would just as soon not see anything because it kind of wears them down because it’s not a good time news story,” he added.

 

Other

• Work on the bridge located in the 2700 block of Fair Road is expected to begin Monday and is slated to take 120 working days.

If the weather cooperates, bridgework may take less time, but since it’s a big bridge, it will take some time to finish, Homman said. However, the contractor, L&M Construction, is known for getting the job done. “They don’t drag their feet,” he commented.

• The commission approved purchasing a grapple bucket for the county’s environmental services department from Abilene Machine at a cost of $12,995 plus freight. The Abilene Machine bid was the low bid.

• Signs warning motorists about “slow moving buggies” will be installed in the northeast part of the county, Homman said. A new Amish settlement has been established in the northern part of Dickinson County and southern areas of Clay County.

Homman said he was told the community members are doing a lot of purchasing from a Clay County store, but they might decide to travel south to purchase in Chapman “once they figure out that store is a lot closer,” he related.

“It’s always good to see growth,” he said, speaking of the new community.

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

 

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

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