County news

Work on the new Dickinson County jail is running about three to four weeks behind schedule, but utility relocation is nearly complete and other work is ongoing.

“We hope to see the foundation people in here next week sometime and be caught up in the next couple of months,” County Administrator Brad Homman told commissioners Thursday.

Gas was turned off in the courthouse Thursday morning as crews from Kansas Gas Service ran a temporary line to serve the building. Moving the gas line was an important milestone, Homman said.

In recent weeks, site elevation and dirt work has been completed, all compaction tests were completed and approved, all utilities have been relocated — with the exception of the AT&T and “that line was draped over the courthouse” so waiting for crews to move it wouldn’t further delay the project, Homman said during Thursday’s work session.

Storm water drain pipes have been installed underground, then covered up and dirt compacted around them.

“All the storm water drains that come off that building (new jail) and east end of this building (courthouse) will go into that underground network and go underground to First Street to the storm water system there,” he said.

A new water line to feed the courthouse and jail was going to be installed on the east side of the courthouse from First to Cottage Streets.

Some electrical work that will serve both buildings also is being done. Although the courthouse will not be renovated until the new jail is finished, some of the electrical work can be done now to “save time and money by purchasing items” at one time.

“And it keeps the electricians busy and they’ll get that much more done so we won’t have to worry about that,” Homman continued.

The east side garage doors were going to be removed soon and the concrete floor finished. The former garage space which was used by the sheriff’s department will be the location of the new county commission meeting room/second conference room, when courthouse renovations are finished.

K-9 agreement

Commissioners approved selling the county’s K-9 (sheriff’s department dog) and other accoutrements of the K-9 to Geary County for $33,070. The sale includes the 2016 Ford Interceptor used to transport the dog.

The officer who handles the K-9 has taken a job with Geary County and since the officer and dog work as a team, it’s not feasible to keep the dog without having the officer.

“The officer has trained with that dog. It’s a partnership,” Homman said. “Geary County is willing to pay us for that stuff.”

Without the officer, the dog would have been boarded until another K-9 handler could be hired. Then the new handler and dog would have to attend training together.

“More important, that dog is halfway through its lifespan. You could spend that money and only get four or five years use out of the dog,” Homman said. “It does make sense to keep the dog and handler together.”

Sheriff Gareth Hoffman plans to advertise for another K-9 handler and if one is hired, another vehicle and equipment will be needed along with a new dog.

“When you do that, you purchase a puppy so you get the full 10 or 12 years lifespan for that investment,” Homman explained.

New EM vehicle

Commissioners approved purchasing a new 2019 Dodge 4-wheel drive crew cab pickup for Dickinson County Emergency Management for $25,385.52. The vehicle will be purchased from the Davis-Moore dealership in Wichita which has the state contract for vehicles.

State contracts are negotiated by the state, but local government agencies can utilize those prices as well.

“It saves us a considerable amount of money,” Homman said. “The list price for the truck is $42,000.”

Holm Automotive, the dealership in Abilene, declined the opportunity to bid, Homman said.

The vehicle will be delivered by February or March 2020, be funded out of the 2020 budget and is part of the county’s capital plan. It replaces a 2006 pickup. Emergency Management Director Chancy Smith will use the new vehicle as his daily driver. It comes equipped with towing package and brake control.

“We have a half dozen trailers he (Smith) pulls with generators and (emergency) response equipment,” Homman said.


• The commission approved a construction agreement with Rural Water District 1 in association with the bridge replacement project at 2790 Fair Road scheduled for spring.

A water line owned by RWD 1 runs next to the bridge.

“This is an agreement through the water district that they will remove that line when the time comes at their expense,” Homman told commissioners.

• The commission heard from County Counselor Doug Thompson that Manhattan attorney Gabriela Vega was appointed to represent a young boy in an immigration case and she agreed to take it.

“Normally on court-appointed cases under the defense fund if one of the four (indigent) attorneys can’t do it, it’s released to someone else to cover it at $250 a case,” Thompson said. “Because this is a specialized case, she (Vega) can’t do it for that sum of money. Her normal fee is $2,500; she has agreed to do it for $1,500 in this case.”

Thompson said the court doesn’t have many other options when it comes to finding a qualified immigration attorney without going “further outside the area.”

“It’s not something we would normally do here in the middle of Kansas,” Thompson said.

• Heard from Thompson that the next county tax foreclosure sale is “working its way through the courts” and several of the 26 parcels have IRS liens that require “a 60-day waiting period as opposed to 30 days,” Thompson said. “So there’s no sale date yet.”

• Following an executive session, the commission authorized up to $15,000 in funding to initiate a drug court for offenders that qualify for it.

• Commissioners voted to allow Commission Chairman Lynn Peterson to sign payroll the week of Nov. 25 because there will be no commission meeting.

Contact Kathy Hageman at

Contact Tim Horan at

(1) comment


Might want to speed it up, this is a violation of prisoner’s rights. Spain v. Procunier, 1979. All inmates have a right to daily outdoor exercise.

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