County news

Dickinson County Commission Chairman Lynn Peterson will meet with a couple members of the Abilene Board of Education to discuss the school board’s COVID concerns.

Peterson said he had received a request from USD 435 Superintendent Greg Brown seeking a joint meeting between the two entities.

During Monday’s Abilene BOE meeting, school board members directed Brown to set up a meeting with county commissioners to talk about modifying the county health department’s quarantine plan.

The district believes the current regulations are “too restrictive,” pulling many kids out of school for long periods of time, ultimately creating not only educational problems, but also a number of social/emotional and mental health issues.

During work session, the three county commissioners agreed that Peterson could represent them in a meeting with a couple school board members, but they did not want to meet as a commission because that’s not their usual protocol.

Typically, one commissioner has represented the entire commission on the various boards the county is involved with.

For instance, Peterson serves on the Central Kansas Mental Health and Dickinson County Economic Development boards; Commissioner Craig Chamberlin is on the North Central Regional Planning Commission board; and Commissioner Ron Roller represents the county on the North Central Kansas Regional Juvenile Detention Facility.

Also, Commissioner Chamberlin said a meeting of the scope proposed by the district — including school board members, health department officials, school and county administrators and possibly representatives from the other four Dickinson County schools — would be unwieldy due to the number of people involved.

“You can’t have everybody involved in the conversation,” Chamberlin said.

Communication lines already open

The commission also feels the lines of communication already are open between the schools and the county through the five school superintendents who have met regularly with County Administrator Brad Homman, Health Department Administrator John Hultgren and other health officials on a regular basis.

However, Peterson said he would meet with a couple school board members, Supt. Brown, County Administrator Brad Homman and health department officials including County Health Department Director John Hultgren.

Peterson said each school district is dealing with the various COVID issues as best they can and are making decisions based on their unique situations.

“We’re trying to avoid having some blanket type (directive) for all school districts,” Peterson said. “One of the things that makes it so difficult as we watch the news is things change everyday. There’s some high level of concern, not only in Dickinson County on the numbers, but also in surrounding counties.”

Other

• Homman said the county transfer station was back in operation immediately following a small fire Saturday morning. County staff is determining what needs to be done to get the building structurally secure.

• Negotiations are ongoing between the county and the Kansas Department of Transportation for a right of way agreement to determine which entity is in charge of maintenance when a county road abuts a state highway.

• Homman said Kevin Flowers with Loyd Builders plans to meet with commissioners during work session Nov. 19 to present courthouse renovation bids for phase 2 of the jail project.

• Commissioners approved a resolution deeming aged delinquent personal property taxes as uncollectable. The action is a “procedural step,” Peterson said.

• They also approved the county’s all-hazard mitigation plan as required every five years by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).

The county is part of FEMA Region 7 and must have an all-hazard mitigation plan in place to be eligible for any FEMA reimbursement in a disaster situation, Homman said.

• The county received building permits to start work on a restroom and shower addition at Sterl Hall and a building project at the county yard, funded by coronavirus relief funds. Sterl Hall qualified for CARES funding because it is designated as an emergency shelter under the county’s emergency operation plan. The building project at the county yard will be used to store personal protective equipment, emergency vehicles and other COVID-related items.

• County Counselor Doug Thompson reported he had reviewed about “two thousand pages” and has about two thousand pages left to review in an opioid case the county is part of. One of the defendants in the case has filed for bankruptcy. Thompson will update the commissioners at a later time.

Contact Kathy Hageman at reporter@abilene-rc.com

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

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