By TIM HORAN
Plans of combining the Dickinson County K-State Research and Extension office with that of the Central Kansas Free Fair office may have been put on hold.
At the regular meeting of the Dickinson County Commissioners Thursday, the commissioners approved a motion to allow the county administrator to negotiate a three-year contract with an Abilene business to lease the north half of the county’s South Annex.
The K-State Research and Extension office is located in the south part of the building. The north half, officially 710 S. Buckeye Ave., has been vacant.
The county had arranged meetings with the extension and fair office to study sharing space and moving the Research and Extension office to Sterl Hall sharing the office with the CKFF.
At a prior meeting, Brad Homman, county administrator, told the commissioners he estimated it would probably cost $500,000 to add a modest addition onto Sterl Hall. Costs are high: roughly $100 to $125 a square foot, he said.
At that time Chairman LaVerne Myers discussed remodeling Sterl Hall to accommodate the joint office without adding on.
Nothing was specifically stated that the combination project has been put on hold should the lease be agreed upon. However the commissioners indicated at past meetings that renting the north half of that building would significantly help with the cost of the South Annex.
In his report to the commission on Thursday, Homman said that tax collections were down a little for the month of December.
“Hopefully, it will come back up,” he said. “It does fluctuate and it always does run about three months behind. We did come out of 2012 quite a bit ahead of what we had projected in sales tax.
“It’s pretty early in the year but everything is looking pretty good,” he said about the county budget. “When we look at the individual budgets, everybody is doing really well.”
Homman reported that there is a vacancy on the Smoky Hill Basin Advisory Committee.
He said Dickinson County was at the eastern end of the region. The committee is looking for somebody east of Salina to serve on the committee.
“The best person is someone with a lot of respect in the community and a lot of communication that is not a member of local government,” he said.
The committee meets three times a year at different locations.
“It is a pretty important board that gives advice to different state agencies on management of water which is getting more and more important, I am afraid,” Homman said. “Everyone’s wells are down.
“It would be beneficial for us to have someone from this region sitting on that committee,” he added.
John Gough, county engineer, also attends the meetings.
The county is looking at April 10 for an evening meeting with county commissioners who neighbor Dickinson County. There are six counties that border Dickinson: Ottawa, Clay, Geary, Morris, Marion and Saline. Someone from the Kansas Association of Counties will also be invited.
The commission voted to appoint Sheila Biggs as a non-commissioned person for the Central Kansas Mental Health Governing Board.
Commissioner Lynn Peterson commented that, because of the retirement of long-time Executive Director Patricia Murray, Biggs is a good fit for the position. She served on the board as a commissioner in the same capacity that Peterson serves now. Murray has been with the KCMH Center for 48 1/2 years; 24 1/2 as executive director.
Next week the county will attempt a tour of the county facilities. The first attempt last month was cancelled because of the snowstorm.
In other action the commission:
*approved the consent agenda which included the minutes of the Feb. 28 work session and meeting, abatements of $1,122.76, added tax of $891.06 and wire payments of $6,904.66;
* approved a noxious weed management report and a noxious weed eradication plan.