By TIM HORAN
It didn’t take long for the two new faces on the Dickinson County Commission to get used to their new seats and responsibilities.
The first meeting with Lynn Peterson and Craig Chamberlin joining LaVerne Myers consisted of the county reorganization and appointments with 20 resolutions on the agenda. The commission approved everything from courthouse hours to the GAAP waiver.
While it wasn’t first on the agenda, Peterson made a motion to reappoint Myers as chairman. That motion was quickly seconded by Chamberlin and approved. Chamberlin then made a motion to name Peterson as vice chairman which was seconded by Myers and approved.
The Thursday regular meeting was the first for the new commission as Peterson, Chamberlin and County Administrator Brad Homman attended an orientation conference a week ago on Jan. 17, the first Thursday after the swearing in on Jan. 14.
Both Peterson and Chamberlin commented on that conference.
“One thing I learned, Dickinson County is, I’m not surprised, but very well thought of. That speaks well of our community,” Peterson said. “There was emphasis on roads and other issues. It was a great resource.”
“On budget issues the consensus was that the state is going to pass more (financial responsibilities) down to us,” Chamberlin said.
During commissioner comments, Myers discussed mental health care.
He said when someone with a mental health issue is evaluated, the process takes three days.
“That’s all the longer they are there,” he said of the patients at mental institutions. “It’s like a revolving door. At the mental institutions we have, there have been so many cutbacks that they have limited staff. Some of the cuts that we’ve had in the past are not helping us get the things done that need to get done.”
In his report to the commission, Homman said the county is in the process of receiving bids for the 2013 road improvement project. Bids are being solicited from six vendors that meet the requirements for the improvements. The deadline is mid-February.
“Obviously prices have gone up tremendously from four years ago,” Homman said, referring to the last time the county did a major road project. “We want to make sure we don’t have to finance any more than what we can afford.”
He reported on the grant application for the Kansas Department of Transportation for a high risk road grant for Old Highway 40.
“That is applicable only to areas that can justify some type of a hazard or of a high risk nature,” Homman said.
A grant was used to put wider shoulders on Highway 40 from Solomon to Chapman. Due to funding availabilities, the county received a grant for only half of the stretch of highway from Solomon to Abilene. That construction project is scheduled for this summer.
“This application is to do the other half. It would not be awarded until September and we would be looking at the other half next summer,” Homman said.
The high risk road grants are split 90 percent to the state with federal money and 10 percent plus the engineering fees to the county. The project is expected to cost $850,000 with cost to the county around $180,000, Homman reported.
“(Engineer) John Gough has put together the application and he documented with the help of 911 dispatch and the sheriff’s department the number of accidents there in the last several years, that we can make this a high risk area to be justified for the funds,” Homman said.
The commission unanimously approved sending the application to the KDOT.
The commission also approved a bid of $65,200 with Bridges Inc. out of Newton for the repair of the bridge at 2325 1100 Avenue. The bid was less than the county expected. Because a crew was in Marion County, the company was able to lower the bid through transportation costs and can start on Friday, Homman said. Union Township will pay 10 percent of the cost.
“The bottom line is we have a substantial risk there on a major concrete bridge that we need to take care of,” Homman said. ‘I suspect that when we do get rain, someday, it’s not going to come lightly. It’s going to come heavy. If we don’t get it repaired we may have issues. The other issue is there is very little water in the bottom and it is the ideal time to get it repaired.”
In other action the commission for 2013:
* set Township Day for the evening of Monday, March 25;
* approved the Consent Agenda which included minutes of the Jan.14 special meeting, fund expenditures of wire payments $2,458.55, abatements $453.44 and added tax $107.72;
*approval of the 2012 audit engagement letter from Pottberg, Hoffman and Gassman;
* reappointed Bruce Wright as Dickinson County Appraiser;
* reappointed Cindy Roberts of Herington to a three-year term to the Dickinson County Planning Commission;
* reappointed Jennifer Elliot of Detroit to a three-year term on the Dickinson County Planning Commission;
* reappointed Claire Anderson to a three-year term on the Dickinson County Board of Zoning Appeals;
* adopted a resolution regarding GAAP (general accepted accounting practices) waiver;
* appointed John Gough county engineer;
* set official hours of the courthouse operations 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with holiday closures as set forth in the Dickinson County Employee Handbook;
* set official work session and meeting days and times for the commission on Thursdays, with the work session from 9:30 to 11 a.m. and the regular meeting starting at 11 a.m.;
* designated the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle as the official county newspaper;
* appointed Peterson to the Central Kansas Mental Health Center Board;
* appointed Myers to the North Central Kansas Juvenile Detention Board;
* appointed Chamberlin to the North Central Kansas Planning Commission Board;
* designated the official depositories for the county UMB Bank, Abilene branch of Astra Bank, Solomon State Bank, Pinnacle Bank of Abilene, Dickinson County Bank of Enterprise, First National Bank of Herington, Central National Bank of Woodbine, First National Bank of Hope and the First Bank of Kansas, Abilene branch;
* adopted the official fee schedule with some changes, which will be posted on the county website;
* adopted the payroll calendar;
* adopted the official employee pay grade schedule.
More information on the Dickinson County Commission meeting will be published on Monday.