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Smoky Hill Museum
Santa Stash 2017

County Commission Mulls New Burning Resolution

Karen Shade - October 11, 2017 4:15 am

A group of land managers and rural district fire chiefs have been mulling what, if any, changes are appropriate to the county’s twenty year old “open burning” policies.  They have proposed:

  • Adopting a “lifetime” burn permit, instead of requiring the public to apply yearly for burn permits. Permit holders will still have to contact the Office of Emergency Preparedness no more than one hour prior to commencing with any burn.
  • The “open burning of household trash” won’t require a call to the OEP, but building dwellers will be required to get a free burn permit and will be required to adhere to the rules of the proposed resolution. These rules include having ten (10) feet of bare soil surrounding the burn container and having a charged garden hose or a full bucket of water readily available.  In addition, trash burning shall be prohibited when the wind speed exceeds fifteen (15) miles per hour.
  • If, at any time, more than one fire district is responding to any fire call(s), a suspension of further burns may be imposed.
  • Including language that defines a violation of the resolution constitutes a Class C Misdemeanor and any person convicted of such violation shall be punished as provided by law including but not limited to restitution of fire department response costs and damages caused by the fire. The burn permits shall also be revoked for a term of one year from the date of conviction.

Emergency Management Director Hannah Stambaugh said that last year, 42% of the grass fires were the result of a controlled burn that got out of hand.  Her office completed an on-line survey where 371 individuals responded to issues surrounding the existing “open burning” policies.

Chairman Monte Shadwick praised the process used, as those who do the burning understand what will and will not work in their unique settings.

Commissioner Robert Vidricksen said that those who conduct open burns had helped set up their own regulations.  Stambaugh said that 60% of surveyed respondents favored stiff penalties for violations.  The proposed resolution gives fire chiefs a stronger role in what happens in their own districts.

Vidricksen requested that affected citizens review the proposed resolution; it currently is under the County Commission agenda for 10-10-2017, at www.saline.org.  Stambaugh will also place the resolution, discussion and survey responses under the Emergency Management tab of the same website.

Commissioners plan to summarize the proposed resolution during an upcoming public forum.  If the public raises concerns, it would still be possible for the committee to offer refinements.  Commissioners plan for the new resolution to go into effect on January 1, 2018.

R&B Bobcat Equipment Leases to End, with Split Results

For the past 10 months, Road and Bridge has been able to lease a Bobcat mini excavator and a T-650 track loader for $5,000/year from each piece of equipment.  Bobcat is not renewing the leases.

The Commission unanimously voted to purchase the mini-excavator for a negotiated price of $40,200.  The Commission then unanimously voted to table making a decision on the option to purchase the track loader for a negotiated price of $45,158.  Vidricksen asked R&B Superintendent Darren Fischel to see if other vendors had a used skid loader available for purchase; Fishel was also asked to see if there are any options for extending the lease by even a month, which might then allow enough time for the County to solicit bids on a new skid loader.

The EXPO Center also leased a Bobcat skid loader; because the EXPO Center has no “equipment fund”, it is likely this loader will be returned to the dealer at the end of the lease.

Fishel gave Commissioners a presentation on unique practices his department uses to replace box culverts with cement “Lego blocks”, “I beams”, and corrugated metal decking.  As vehicle weights continue to increase, R&B staff have found this to be a less expensive and more durable approach to using wood, in certain box culvert conditions.  Fishel gave this presentation to a gathering of his peers at a MINK regional conference—involving departments from Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas.  Fishel’s presentation can be viewed on ACCESS TV.  Fishel also gave his quarterly R&B report, which included plans for the R&B shop’s remodel.

In Other Matters

Commissioners:

  • Proclaimed October Downs Syndrome Awareness Month.
  • Signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the City, regarding an $18,994 Justice Assistance Grant that will be used to purchase 3 covert tracking units, a covert listening devise, 2 video surveillance systems and one GPS tracking unit.
  • Granted a permit for a private fireworks display, to occur on October 21st, at 9:45 pm, near the Country Club. The planned 7 minute display is for a wedding.
  • Met in executive session for 20 minutes in a matter involving attorney/client privilege on pending litigation. County Counselor Mike Montoya and FIshel were part of that session.
  • Signed an agreement for Ford County to house inmates from the Saline County Jail at a rate of $35/day. Sheriff Roger Soldan gave a brief update on sewer repairs that have temporarily caused the County to have to house additional inmates elsewhere; repairs are expected to be completed this week.
  • Briefly discussed a spike in the number of detained juveniles. For many months, the number of detained juveniles had been relatively low but recently, 11 have been detained.
  • Learned that seven qualified applicants have applied for the Assistant Administrator position; interviews begin this week.
  • Learned K-State Extension will like re-locate from the City-County Building to the K-State Polytechnic campus by the end of the year. Commissioners approved a plan to inform the Building Authority of the County’s plans to use the vacated space as part of a juvenile court.
  • Learned that an accessibility report on the Commission on Aging’s building has been received. Commissioners also signed a letter reappointing Jeff Denton to serve on the North Central-Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging.
  • Learned the Committee to Reduce the Jail Population will meet twice this month as they do “behind the scenes” work.
  • Learned that soon, all incorporated areas of the County will be able to procure outdoor warning sirens that will have a life of 25 years.
  • On October 31st, Emergency Management has invited law enforcement, fire, EMS, Westar, and United Way to meet with area facilities at the Webster Conference Center. The Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services has implemented several new emergency preparedness requirements for various health care facilities that must coordinate their efforts with those outlined in the County’s Emergency Response Plan.  The meeting will focus on emergency planning development, facilitation of exercises, and general information sharing.

 

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