Dickinson County will receive a $2,000 KCAMP risk reduction grant that will fund new amber LED lights for the county’s snowplows.

The new lights will be placed on top of the bucket and back of the plows, County Administrator Brad Homman told commissioners during their Thursday, Dec. 23 meeting. 

“Those lights take a beating. When they operate, it will give us more visibility and will help reduce our risk there,” he added.

KCAMP (Kansas Counties Association Multi-Line Pool) is the county’s insurance carrier.

During the meeting, the commission approved two “housekeeping” items. The first was a three percent salary increase for elected officials, an amount consistent with the pay raise budgeted in 2022 for department heads.

Commission Chairman Lynn Peterson said commissioners have been approving small increases consistently each year. Otherwise, five to seven years can end up passing and then it takes more money to bring salaries in line.

Secondly -- following a 15-minute executive session for attorney-client privilege and non-elected personnel -- commissioners returned to open meeting and okayed the 2022 indigent defense contract for attorneys Joycelyn Lucas Randle, Charles Ault, Jennifer Dahlstrom and Mark Guilfoyle at a cost of $3,250 per month.

Housing inmates, landscaping 

Homman said the county received its first check for housing some Saline County inmates in the new Dickinson County Jail. The county also is housing some Morris County inmates.

Regarding the courthouse remodeling project, landscaping is underway. A couple sidewalk segments have been poured. 

“Then the only thing left is the irrigation system and grass,” Homman said, explaining much of that work can be done now rather than waiting for spring as long as the weather cooperates and contractors can obtain sod. 

Storm drains will be installed on the west end of the courthouse once they arrive. Two drains were originally installed when the courthouse was built in the1960s that ran down underground and dumped into the “gutter apron,” Homman said. 

Over the years, those original drains were plugged or crushed. They were dug up and replaced with tubes that will drain into the storm water drainage system.

“It’s all underground. There’s nothing that’s visible,” Homman said.

Commissioner Craig Chamberlin asked about a tree that had been planted in the courthouse yard. He is concerned it may be a visual obstruction for drivers stopped at First Street in coming years. Homman said he would check on it.

Road & Bridge update

During work session, Road & Bridge Supervisor Martin Tannahill provided an overview of work that’s been completed during the past 12 months:

Seven bridges have been replaced; tubes were installed at 12 locations; crews completed 1,180 hours of seasonal mowing and provided 1,200 hours of outside assists to the cities, towns, townships and other Dickinson County entities.

Chamberlin said he noticed crews were mowing not only county right-of-way, but also railroad right-of-way and asked if they were doing that as a favor to the railroads.

Tannahill said the railroads would not do any mowing and the county does it to “clean the roads up,” improve visibility and safety.

“We are so short of right-of-way on Old 40 (Highway) we’re just going to extend our usage,” Tannahill said. “Hopefully when we’re done in January we’ve cut and killed all the trees that we can mow with the John Deere.”

He further explained many trees on Old 40 near Chapman were “out of hand” and need to be eliminated. He plans to rent a forestry cutter to remove larger diameter trees. 

Crews in 2021 overlaid 25 miles of roadway, paint striped 75 miles and added some areas of mastic sealant. As for bridges, the Ebert Construction crew working in the 1500 block of Rain Road poured the first center pier of that bridge at 10 a.m. Dec. 23. 

“As long as the weather holds, they’re moving along pretty fair,” Tannahill said.

Sign replacement

Like the Kansas Department of Transportation and nearly every other city and county in Kansas, Dickinson County lost a large number of signs – perhaps 100 -- during the historic Dec. 15 windstorm.

“We still have not repaired all the signs. We’ll have a running count in January of what we replace and take care of,” Tannahill said.

The wind damaged the large door of one of the county’s maintainer sheds located on 1400 Ave., wrapping it around the roof, and one of the county’s digital signs was damaged. Luckily, the digital sign was repaired and now is operating.

Also, Tannahill is looking at the cost to replace a deteriorating Quonset at the county yard used to protect large equipment; and inspections on the county’s fracture critical bridges will start in February or March. The county has several bridges that require yearly inspections. As for road ratings, Tannahill said he hired an official with Schwab-Eaton to rate the roads. Last year, the county’s rating was right at 6.1 on a scale of 1 to 10.

“I believe we’ll come in about 6.6 or 6.7 this year,” Tannahill said, explaining the county began rating its roads after now retired County Engineer John Gough joined the staff. 

“We went from an average of 4.9 and slowly the quality of the roads is climbing,” he said.

 

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