County Discusses Damaged Roads, Damaged Communication
KSAL Staff - September 8, 2015 4:32 pm
Talk about damaged roads, and damaged communication with the public, dominated discussions as the Saline County Commission met on Tuesday.
At September 8th’s Saline County Commission meeting, Commissioners expanded a discussion started last week about the impact of overloaded trucks on county roads.
Sheriff Glen Kochanowski offered to work with a motor carrier inspector in Concordia, who has portable scales, to look at what’s traveling on county roads. Highway Troopers also know what weight limit exceptions are permitted by the State.
If these initial weights show problems, the Commission may consider spending $10,000 to purchase scales and to periodically devoting at least three officers’ time to weighing trucks. Fines for overweight trucks can be in the thousands of dollars; any money collected would go to the State.
County Administrator Rita Deister commented that these actions may prompt haulers to reduce the loads in trucks and that would “save our roads”. On September 1, the County Commission approved spending $690,575 in repairs to seven miles of road. Of this, the six southernmost miles of Gypsum Valley Road experience frequent truck traffic.
Commissioner Jim Gile said that he didn’t envision mobile weigh stations stopping many vehicles. Once a trucker is aware of the checks, he might contact others by CB. In the past, the courts have also thrown out violations.
County Engineer Neil Cable said that a “legal” semi tractor and trailer weigh 40,000 pounds; one trip down a road from this truck does the same damage as 9,600 cars. Load limits up to 85,000 pounds are often permitted. Some loaded grain and salt trucks weigh 120,000 pounds or more. Carriers are permitted to haul more weight on local roads than on highways.
Captain Roger Soldan from the Saline County Sheriff’s Department said they had roadside scales that developed a leak in 1993-4. One set of scales costs $4895 and has a three year warranty. Two sets of scales are needed to weigh semi-tractors. Soldan noted that it takes time to set up and calibrate the scales. Currently, if officers believe a vehicle is overloaded, they can legally send them to an elevator to be weighted if that elevator is within five miles
County Endorses Civic Engagement Center
With the goal of promoting public deliberation on local issues, the emerging Civic Engagement Center is bringing the Kettering Foundation’s approach to Saline County. It works with Kansas State’s Institute for Civil Discourse and Democracy, whose mission is to build community capacity for informed, engaged civil deliberations.
Thea Nietfeld and Greg Stephens are nine months into an eighteen month long Kettering Foundation training process that asks “how do we make democracy work as it should?” Nietfeld noted that when public issues are discussed, some aspect becomes urgent, and there is often a “yes” or “no” vote. The goal is to work through issues by bringing a range of options into the discussions.
Since criminal justice issues is a “hot topic” that remains after last November’s election, this will be the first local issue addressed. Nietfeld and Stephens have begun interviewing citizens, whose thoughts fall into three different approaches for addressing local criminal justice concerns.
On October 7, the public is invited to participate in small table discussions of these different approaches. Attendees will take turns putting themselves in the place of an individual who holds one particular point of view; after a few minutes, they may then identify any downsides to that point of view. This process helps individuals to think through things in a different way.
TALKSalina will host one of the October 7th sessions at 4:00 PM at the Library’s class outreach annex. At 7:00 PM, the small table discussions will be repeated at the Chamber of Commerce’s annex. Commissioners said they planned to attend. Chairman Shadwick said that “more conversations, dialogue and debate can only lead to positives”.
County Adopts Resolution Naming Clearview Road
By a vote of 3-0, the County approved a resolution to rename an unnamed road segment from approximately 6000 to 6200 block of Old Highway 81 as Clearview Road. This move requires two households to change their addresses, but one household will be permitted to retain its present address as being on Old Highway 81. Residences on Rafter M Lane also retain their existing addresses.
A number of the affected homeowners were present at the Open Forum and voiced no objections to the proposed resolution. Kurt Marshall asked that the county put up a sign for Clearview Drive that also includes the prior name of Old Highway 81. He also asked that a “no outlet” sign be posted.
County Fine-Tunes By-Laws for the Health Department Advisory Board
Commissioners worked through refinements of the drafted Health Department Advisory Board By-Laws. Since additional interest forms were received last week, and since Commissioners John Price and Dave Smith were absent, they will be given a few days to review these forms and revise their votes for appointing individuals to serve on this board.
Emergency Management Requests Approval and Adoption of Hazard Mitigation Plan
In order to be eligible for mitigation grant monies that become available, Saline County must have a FEMA approved plan that has also been adopted by the region’s jurisdiction. Emergency Management’s Hannah Stambaugh brought North-Central Kansas’ Multi-Hazard, Multi-Jurisdictional Mitigation Plan before the Commission.
Tornados, agricultural infestations, floods and winter weather rank high on the county’s list of hazards. Discussions turned to the availability of back-up generators at specific buildings that had sufficient capacity to meet anticipated needs should there be power failures. The ability to filter water for safe drinking was voiced as another concern.
The public can view this plan at: http://www.saline.org/EmergencyManagement/Documents.aspx
• An unbound copy of the audit was received. Administrator Deister said that there were a few findings; they will change habits and will respond by setting up courses of corrective action.
• The Commission reviewed a draft letter to the City asking that the Expo Center lease be extended until August 31, 2034.
• The Commission continues to seek applicants willing to serve on the Solid Waste Committee.
• The Commission wants to continue with the past practice of meeting informally with department heads at a “dutch” meal.
• At Open Forum, Ray Hrouska expressed ongoing difficulty in being able to access Planning and Zoning By-Laws. Karen Shade and Judy Larson expressed their appreciation to Chairman Shadwick for a “letter to the editor” that appeared in the Salina Journal about the Code of Ethics for Commissioners.
Story by: Karen Shade for KSAL News