Diesel Spill Prompts Pavement Removal
KSAL Staff - April 5, 2016 8:16 pm
Saline County Commissioners Tuesday were updated on situation in which a traffic accident made a section of road impassable, and prompted pavement removal.
On Friday, April 1, a light truck hit a semi-truck on Old State 81 Highway, south of Phillips Lighting. An estimated 60 gallons of diesel was spilled. According to County Engineer Neil Cable, “diesel is like kryptonite to asphalt”; it dissolves the cohesive nature of the blacktop and “turns it into black sand”. Motorists soon began commenting about adverse road conditions. On Saturday afternoon, Road and Bridge Director Gary Nash was notified of the problem. By then, the leaked diesel had gone further into the pavement and had been tracked a greater distance. A-PAC, a commercial partner that performs a variety of paving services in the county, brought out their miller and began removing approximately 1½ inches of damaged asphalt. Crews are working diligently to make repairs. There was speculation that if the driver of the light truck has auto insurance, it might be used to cover the estimated $15-20,000 repair costs. During the Open Forum, Commissioner Luci Larson publicly gave a “shout out” to A-PAC for promptly advising the County and for re-directing the use of their equipment to this sudden priority. Nash and Cable were also quick to express their appreciation for the assistance A-PAC has provided. More Discussions on Roads.
Nash and Cable also briefed Commissioners that they had underestimated the number of cracks that require sealing in previously approved work. The Commission authorized spending an additional $20- 25,000 to finish the project as intended; the money will come from a ten year road upgrade fund.
Commissioners continued to hear many comments about road conditions. One property tax payer asked that sand be placed on a stretch of road to cut the dust that comes from the use of limestone aggregate. Commissioner Jim Gile said he has received four calls relating to temporary repairs made where railroad tracks cross Country Club Road, near Scoular elevator.
Steve Bloomberg and Ron Heimer have requested a right-of-way vacation where Ohio Street intersects with Coronado Heights. The section of road in question is located on the north side in Saline County and on the south side in McPherson County. Both property owners have grown tired of driving the 3.5 to 4 miles to access property across PeeWee Creek. There is a “fracture critical bridge”, constructed of concrete and some steel, which the County recently closed. Bloomberg and Heimer asked about the possibility of “buying the bridge”. While they were present, Commissioners spoke of liability issues and the need to allow the public to be able to bid on salvageable materials from a demolished bridge. Later, County Attorney Mike Montoya said that perhaps the bridge could be declared to have no value (because of its construction materials) and the right-of-way could be vacated.
Commissioners considered a Request for Action to purchase a front end wheel loader; Sellers Equipment of Salina had the low bid of $161,585 for a Dooson loader. Commissioner John Price said he had not heard of Dooson loaders. He said another bidder had told him that they offered a “buy-back guarantee” that had not been included in that bidder’s response. Price raised issues about whether the County should be buying American made equipment, but a quick search of the internet showed most loaders are being made outside the US.
While citizens continue to express surprise at recent property appraisals, Commissioners received State data confirming that the County’s valuations for residential and commercial properties are appropriately close to actual selling prices, after the values were set. Appraiser Sean Robertson, wrote in a memo on the preliminary 2015 end-of-year ratio study, that “our values were actually slightly lower on average” to actual selling prices. Some citizens have expressed concern about the valuation of commercial property, especially that which is being used primarily for storage. Some said that if former Appraiser Sheryl Sammons had been asked, she might have responded that perhaps the owners weren’t using the property to its full potential. Individuals who disagree with their property’s valuation can appeal the valuation. Since that deadline has passed, property owners are encouraged to “pay their property taxes under protest”. This will give them a second chance to bring their concerns before the appropriate board.
Community Corrections Director Annie Grevas asked Commissioners to fund the cost of a public defender who participates in Drug Court. Grevas said a directive “coming from Topeka” could cause public defenders to be absent from Drug Court proceedings; without them, Grevas paraphrased Judge Johnson that Drug Court would “not maintain itself”. Grevas said $7,250 will be needed for 2016; County Administrator Rita Deister said this could come from contingency reserves. Grevas would need to budget for the annual amount in 2017. At present, one public defender spends three hours a week attending Drug Court and their hourly rate is $62. Grevas is seeking preliminary Commission approval of a $250,764 behavioral health grant application. If funded, it would pay for three staff members and voucher services.
Other County Matters
Commissioners received an update on Central Kansas Mental Health from Cathy Moser and Pat Kinard. CKMH provided 10,000 more hours of service in 2015, over that provided in 2014. They provided services to 2,929 Saline County residents. Commissioners learned that a recreation district has been proposed for southwestern Saline County, where some hope to put the Marquette gym to use. Because this could benefit more McPherson County residents, Commissioners were in agreement that organizers would have to “plead their case” to the SC Commission, who have jurisdiction.
Court Administrator Todd Heitschmidt said the district court received one bid back to carpet sections of the third floor. Ritter Tile Shop submitted a bid of $40,786 to do the work.
County sales tax collections for March amounted to $360,104. Year-to-date sales tax collections of $1,206,377 for 2016 are running slightly behind y-t-d collections of $1,216,249 for 2015.
Chairman Monte Shadwick continued to ask that County Counselor Mike Montoya monitor concerns about problematic water quality at Howison Heights. Montoya said, “The State is working through compliance issues.”
During the Citizens Forum, Ray Hruska continued to raise issues surrounding Commissioner Dave Smith’s reading of quotes as “announcements” at the end of each Open Forum. Hruska said that “if this continues, perhaps the ACLU should get involved”.
Commissioners also proclaimed:
- April 2016 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month
- April 5th as National Service Recognition Day
- April 4-10 as Public Health Week
- April 2016 as Fair Housing Month
- April 2016 as National County Government Month
At the April 12th meeting, Commissioners will take final action to purchase carpet for the district court, to purchase a front end wheel loader, and approve the Drug Court Attorney Fee expenditure.
Smith was absent.
Commissioners held two executive sessions.