County Tackles Projects as Year Ends

Following up on last week’s decision to shelve plans to build a Road & Bridge shop in the near future, Commissioners Jim Gile and John Price met with R&B Director Gary Nash and County Engineer Neil Cable twice last week. Nash presented a different “concept” for proceeding with making repairs and handicap accessibility improvements, which was well received. Fuel tanks were inspected last week and measurements of the tanks’ “steel was within tolerances for steel plates”. Chairman Monte Shadwick suggested that this project might be best tackled by drafting and approving a series of Requests for Action. Key individuals will proceed with getting prices for identified improvements.

EXPO Center Director Rick Lamer briefed the Commission that “seasonal discounts” could reduce the cost of replacing air conditioning units by 3-5%. He is soliciting verbal quotes. Price voiced reservations about replacing 28+ year old air conditioning units when the City has yet to respond to the County’s request to clarify the status of the EXPO Center lease. The County leases the EXPO Center from the City and the lease expires in 2019. Lamer is compiling a record of what the County has spent making improvements at the EXPO Center over the term of the existing lease.

Health Department Update
Health Department Director, Jason Tiller presented an update on the on-going syphilis outbreak in his bi-monthly report. With 16 “lab-confirmed” cases of syphilis in Saline County, Tiller said preliminary information suggests that white, 40+ year old males are most involved. Tiller outlined the series of social media postings, Journal story and KSAL interview, and other methods used to notify the community of this outbreak. Tiller said he hopes to know more specific information about who is being impacted shortly. Tiller said this will take a “multi-pronged, well-planned community-wide effort to address sexually transmitted diseases”. He said the focus needs to be on addressing common factors involved in all STDs—that of individuals using “risky, unprotected sexual practices”.

Tiller said he’d recently traveled to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Association of Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Professionals as well as the National Association of City and County Health Officials, in Washington, DC. Maternal and Child Health Coordinator, Sherrie LaFollette attended ”Preventing Prematurity and Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait” conference in Washington, DC. Much of this travel was paid for by sponsoring organizations.

Also, the HD’s Home Health Agency recently had an unannounced audit by the State. No deficiencies were noted. Tiller said Home Health Coordinator Jean Adams is retiring this week, and is leaving the program in good shape.

BOCC Finalizes Appointments
Commissioners finalized the appointment of Lloyd Davidson to a one-year term and Cheryl Murphy to a three-year term on the Salina Community Economic Development Organization. The first meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 29th, at 3:00 PM, at the “Visit Salina” Annex.

Commissioners finalized appointments for the Saline County Jail Population Advisory Council. Names were randomly drawn and Rick Beus and Michelle Martin will each serve a one-year term; Ellen Mitchell and Todd Heitschmidt will each serve a two-year term; Ken Petty and Garry Jelmek will each serve a three-year term. Chairman Shadwick clarified that these meetings will be open to the public. Director of Community Corrections, Annie Grevas will chair this committee and will determine if the public will be allowed to make comments during the meetings. Greg Stephens told the Commission that several individuals attended both the TALKSalina public deliberation and the NAACP conference two weekends ago. Stephens noted that some of these individuals had not initially been selected to serve on this committee; he asked that they be considered if any of the selected committee members found themselves unable to serve. The by-laws allows for the replacement of members who fail to attend meetings. Price reminded the public that “expressions of interest” forms can be submitted at any time and are kept on file for two years.

Price asked Stephens to keep the Commission informed about the activities of the North Salina business association. It has both a Facebook page and a website, but the website is currently being updated.

Commissioners approved resolutions re-appointing individuals to various Rural Fire Department Boards. All will serve terms beginning January 1, 2016 and ending December 31, 2019.
• From RFD #1, Pete Kendrick, Eric Stubbs and Bruce Waddle were reappointed.
• From RFD #2, Calvin Kelsey, Joe Gray and Justin Short were reappointed.
• From RFD #3, Chris Carazo, Rodger Schneider and Rex Muchow were reappointed.
• From RFD #5, Jame Simpson and Cindy Turner were reappointed.
• From RFD #6, Lawrence Fairbanks, Eldon Tillberg and Andrew Hall were reappointed.
• From RFD #7, Mike Hulteen and Rick Hicks were reappointed. John Guerrero was newly appointed.

Board Decisions
• Commissioners voted 5-0 to purchase two ATVs for $23,846 from Superior Supply, in Nebraska. The new ATVs replace two ATVs primarily used to control noxious weeds, which were purchased 12 years ago and have mechanical problems. Tom Rickstrew asked whether two staff and two ATVs could realistically impact noxious weeds when neighboring counties might not be controlling the problem well, and transportation systems might bring weeds into the county.
• Commissioners voted 5-0 for R&B to enter into a Bobcat lease agreement.
• Commissioners approved hiring a truck driver applicant at grade 8.
• Additional information on these matters can be found at the County’s website, under the Commission’s agenda tab.

BOCC Heard Reports
• Commissioners reviewed a RFA involving a right-of-way vacation on Wyman Road; the County will proceed with notifying affected land owners.
• Commissioners considered three resolutions as part of end-of-the-year bookkeeping. The first would permit transfer of funds from the 2015 budget. The second exempts the County from having to do an inventory audit that factors in depreciation, as permitted by KSA 75-1120A. The third would permit any remaining funds from the Health Department to be swept into the HD’s capital outlay fund. Smith commented that if R&B had any available, unspent funds, they should be spent purchasing gravel. Karen Shade asked why the HD had not purchased equipment as budgeted and if unspent monies, resulting from unfilled positions, would be swept into a capital outlay fund.
• County Administrator, Rita Deister reported that she attended the Legislative Agenda meeting this morning at the Chamber of Commerce. All four State Legislators were present and seemed receptive to considering lifting the tax lid recently imposed by the State on counties.
• Human Resources Director, Marilyn Leamer said Treasurer Jim Dubois is in the process of re-organizing the TAG office. He’ll assume more supervisory responsibility and will likely create two lead worker positions; this move may save the County as much as $25,000 in salaries and benefits. Leamer plans to meet soon with a representative of the Archer Company, which will likely perform the salary study and may help the County identify ways to fund possible salary changes in 2017.
• County Appraiser, Sheryl Sammons provided her-bi-monthly update, highlighting “pictometry”, which allows the county to “see” many aspects of a building’s exterior. This technology also contains a measuring tool that is useful in measuring parking lots.
• Lt. Sean Kochanowski told the Commission that it was “status quo” in terms of statistics involving juvenile detention. Kochanowski said the State is making changes to how long juveniles can be held. He said the North Central Juvenile Detention Facility, in Junction City, is one of few programs that offer detainees an opportunity to earn a GED.
• Citizen Judy Larson provided Commissioners with sources confirming that the March of Dimes is in no way affiliated with Planned Parenthood. She also clarified that FEMA is a federal agency that operates under Constitutional authority to “protect and preserve the general welfare” of the citizenry. Shade provided a written list of concerns about the Health Department to Commissioners. Shadwick commented that the Health Advisory Council was in the process of “getting its feet wet”.

Building Authority
Four County Commissioners (Gile, Price, Smith and Luci Larson) met with two City Commissioners (Randy Hardy and Kaye Crawford) and others involved with managing the actual City/County building.
• The BA approved the Treasurer’s request to set up a Christmas tree that both the public and employees can decorate with stockings (socks), hats, mittens/gloves, etc. After the holidays, the tree will be dismantled and collected items will be given to charities.
• Complaints have been received that some of the “smoking areas” at the City/County building are creating a smoke filled environment for those who wait for CityGo buses. A variety of tobacco and e-cigarette “vapor” concerns will be referred to County Counselor Mike Montoya.
• The BA voted to move a maintenance supervisor from grade 15, step 1 to grade 16, step 1.
• Crawford suggested that the City Commission’s meeting room might benefit from some updating of chairs and an improved telephone.
• The BA is actively seeking bids for cleaning and janitorial supplies.
• Parks and Recreation had a fire that started with a computer. The group discussed different methods for providing security while also allowing the Salina Fire Department prompt access.
• Many well used items are stored in the building’s basement. Staff are re-evaluating if these have any potential use or if these might be sold, perhaps in something like a Purple Wave auction. Such a sale might take place as soon as February.

Story by: Karen Shade for KSAL News

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