Ottawa County To Provide Howison Heights Water

County Commission Chairman Monte Shadwick announced an update to last week’s discussions regarding water quality and supply concerns for residents living at Howison Heights, a subdivision about three miles north of I-70.  Shadwick reported that yesterday, owner Tim Howison signed paperwork that will allow Ottawa County Water District #2 to provide water to residents.

Yesterday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued a “boil water” order for Howison Heights residents.  A few Commissioners had heard there had been little or no water pressure on Sunday; as a result, this affected the chlorination system and resulted in Monday’s “boil water” advisory.

Last week, the Board of County Commissioners formally asked County Counselor Mike Montoya to write a letter that asked for the Kansas Corporation Commission to take action in the matter.  Before that meeting adjourned, Montoya had a letter ready for the Commissioners to sign.

Health Department to Host Informational Meeting on Lead

Health officials will update the public tonight, at 6:30 PM, at the Salina Community Theater, at 303 East Iron Avenue, on high levels of lead found in over 30 area children.  They will discuss plans for determining the cause of these elevated blood level levels and will discuss how to prevent exposure.

Then, on Wednesday and Thursday, the Health Department will offer free lead screenings to the public.  There is no charge for the tests; no appointments will be necessary.  Anyone over age 6 months can be screened for lead; results may take 10 days to be processed.  The Health Department is located at 125 W Elm.

  • Screening hours on Wednesday, June 22: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM.
  • Screening hours on Thursday, June 23: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM.
  • Go to Conference Room A, located on the West Side of the building (facing the library)

When asked individually, no Commissioner said that the planned to attend tonight’s presentation.  Candidate David Nichols, for District #4, said he definitely planned to attend.  The County Commission serves as the Board of Health.  Individual Commissioners’ comments can be viewed on the ACCESS TV’s Open Forum taping.

Addressing Concealed Carry in the City-County Building

Spirited debate at both the County Commission meeting and the Building Authority meeting surrounded the “concealed carry” gun issue.  Using an exemption, citizens currently are prohibited from bringing any kind of firearm into City-County building.  Come July 1, the Building Authority could choose to remove the ban on “concealed carry” on the first and second floors, while leaving the third floor courtrooms with a weapons ban.  This change is the result of legislation initiated by State Representative J. R. Claeys; the new law will go into effect on July 1.

The Building Authority concluded that the City and County will each need to discuss and decide what actions they think are appropriate to secure the building.  With five entrances, there is the possibility of having uniformed personnel monitoring each exit.  Purchasing magnetometers could cost between $5-8,000 per exit.  Court Administrator Todd Heitschmidt said that personnel costs could be the largest, long-term expense.

County Commissioners Dave Smith and John Price said they favored taking down the signs that prohibit concealed carry on the first and second floor.  City Commissioner Randall Hardy was more cautious.  The County has put this item on the agenda, for next week.

In other matters:

  • Bill Fecas, who sponsors the annual Fecas Christmas Dinner, spoke of financial challenges now that “Tony’s Pizza cut off” their sponsorship of the event. Commissioners agreed that the fellowship and food provided at this community event were of great value.  Commissioners expressed a willingness to help Fecas continue the dinners; discussions will continue at a future meeting.
  • Jim Gile updated the Commission on the Dexter Cattle Show, held at the EXPO Center over the weekend. He described Dexter cattle as being shorter than other cattle breeds and weighing about 600 pounds each.  Because Salina is in the center of the nation, owners from many states traveled and plan to travel to Salina in 2017 and 2018 for future conferences.  Since nearly all of the 270 attendees were from out of state, Gile said that the local economy benefited significantly from this show, as well as from shows of both Canadian cattle and ponies held earlier this month at the EXPO Center.
  • Montoya said he is reviewing contracts for Riley Construction to oversee the work to be done on the Road & Bridge shop. Commissioners said they hoped that work might start as soon as July and be completed by November.
  • Commissioners approved “brush truck funding” for two 500 gallon vehicles to be used by Rural Fire District #7. Total price for the cabs, chassis and beds will be $216,000.  The low bid for financing these vehicles was from Bennington State Bank; RFD#7 will make ten annual payments of $26,315.
  • Commissioners heard that statistics for juvenile offenders remain essentially the same for April and May, with 13 offenders being housed in Junction City. Carnell Egana, Transportation Corporal with the Sheriff’s Office, said that during the River Festival, the jail had 304 inmates and “105 were farmed out” (to other facilities) at a cost of “$30/day”.  While the jail usually tries to keep its census at 130 males and 36 females, Egana said the jail currently holds 135 males and 49 females, in part because facilities in other counties that usually help house inmates “are all full”.