State requests county takeover

News editor

Kansas Department of Transportation wants Marion County to take over three “spur routes” (short state highways into towns) in return for a one-time payment; Joe Palic of KDOT floated a figure of $200,000 per mile on Monday.

The three routes in question are K-215, about one-quarter mile from K-15 into Goessel; K-168, about one-half mile from U.S. 56 into Lehigh; and K-256, about five miles from U.S. 77, through Marion, and to U.S. 56.

County Commissioners were unsure about the two shorter routes but saw K-256, and in particular the pair of bridges over the Cottonwood River west of Marion, as too big of a burden at even twice the proposed $200,000/mile payment.

Road and Bridge Superintendent Randy Crawford said replacement of either bridge, when it is needed eventually, would cost millions of dollars. Palic said the consensus that KDOT had heard from counties as it tries to reduce its miles of highways is that $200,000 per mile isn’t enough.

Palic reiterated that the number discussed wasn’t final. Commissioner Dan Holub asked whether it was an all-or-nothing proposal. Could the county accept K-168 and K-215 but leave K-256 in KDOT’s hands? Palic said he didn’t know for sure, but he thought KDOT would be happy to turn over the two smaller highways.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said Goessel City Council might be happy to have K-215 become a county or city street, so they wouldn’t need KDOT approval to change the speed limit on the road. Dallke said he would want to talk to Goessel City Council before making any decision.

City help sought for recycling program

The commission approved sending a letter to cities with recycling bins paid for by the county asking whether those city councils would like to pay the $138 per month fee the county has been paying to keep the bins in their cities. If not, the county is likely to remove those bins.

Commissioner Roger Fleming said it is a matter of being fair to residents of all the cities. Peabody and Hillsboro have their own recycling programs paid for by residents.

“I’m not willing to pay for Goessel’s recycling but not for Hillsboro’s or Peabody’s,” he said.

Dallke figured that if each bin keeps one ton per month of trash out of a landfill, it costs the county $100 more per ton to recycle than throw things away.

GIS software purchased

County Appraiser Cindy Magill will purchase a geographic information service software license for $4,950 per year. Mapping coordinator Debbie Bowman will now update maps on the software herself rather than sending information to a vendor to do it.

The contract to have a vendor do the same work had been about $6,900 per year, Magill said. Fleming asked if the extra duties would require hiring more help; Bowman said it shouldn’t.

In other business:

  • The county is seeking volunteers to serve in unfilled township board position in several townships.
  • Department on Aging Coordinator Gayla Ratzlaff will seek a grant to pay for training to give classes on falls, strength, flexibility, and balance for senior citizens.
  • The annual noxious weed control plan and eradication progress report to be sent to the state were approved.
  • Consultant Greg Leslie and engineer Don McMican spoke with the commission about work on the courthouse roof and masonry. Dallke said the county needs to prioritize safety, structural soundness, and maintenance, in that order. McMican said engineering to fix the east face of the clock tower and to address safety and water intrusion concerns would cost approximately $10,000.
  • Road and Bridge Department will bid on a used Mack truck with 73,000 miles, expected to cost about $60,000 plus transportation from Virginia. Buying and equipping a new truck would cost an estimated $150,000, and the truck should last 500,000 miles if well maintained.
  • County Attorney Susan Robson will check with other rural counties to see what others do about problems with trash dumping and road sign destruction and theft.

The next commission meeting is scheduled for Thursday.

 

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