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This Week

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Commissioners hear from Kirkham Michael about upcoming KDI road improvement project

    The Stevens County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session Monday, August 18 at 8:30 a.m. with all members, Pat Hall, Dave Bozone and Jim Bell present. Others present included County Counselor Robert Johnson, County Clerk Pam Bensel and Marie Austin with The Hugoton Hermes.
    Following is just an agenda for the morning with a few unoffical highlights. Official minutes will be published at a later date.
    The commissioners’ agenda included Greg Wellbrock with copier bids at 9:00 a.m., Tony Martin at 9:30 a.m. and Kirkham Michael with a proposal for the KDI road project at 10:30 a.m. Commissioners also decided voting delegates for the Kansas Association of Counties’ annual conference and exhibition.
    When this reporter arrived, the commissioners were speaking to Rodney Kelling about Emergency Services. The commissioners then discussed the recent decision to allow county employees time to work at the county fair. They agreed to include the phrase, “at the discretion of the department head” and “during the week of the Fair” in the motion’s language.
    While visiting before Greg Wellbrock came in, Pat Hall suggested the commissioners invite Danny Allison of Abengoa to their next meeting to give an update about the Abengoa plant. Both Dave and Jim thought this would be a great idea.
    Angel Martinez arrived with a bid for the concrete work at the Hugoton fire station. The commissioners had accepted a bid from McBride Construction earlier, but decided to take a look at Angel’s bid. Upon reviewing the price difference, the commissioners opted to rescind the earlier motion to use McBride. They then approved the motion to accept Angel Martinez Construction’s bid of $3450.
    Tony Martin came in a little early to give a report about his department. He offered a draft of the letters to be sent to farmers whose sprinklers are currently spraying on county roads. All the commissioners, as well as Tony Martin and Bob Johnson, agreed the issue must be resolved soon. Excess water from sprinklers’ end guns can lead to dangerous road conditions and increased wear on the dirt roads. In addition, water - a most precious resource in southwest Kansas - is being wasted. Tony said he thought the letters would eliminate most of the problems within a few weeks.
    Tony then reported about various roads his department is fixing, and indicated he would be back for the report from Kirkham Michael later in the morning. Tony also reported Road and Bridge is a little ahead of schedule on some roads and behind schedule on others. He said it would be worth the wait for the roads to be repaired correctly.
    The commissioners were also informed the telephone system at Road and Bridge is almost completely deteriorated. Tony spoke with Pioneer Communications after repeatedly losing calls and being unable to dial out. When Pioneer investigated, they discovered the phone system is nearly 100 years old. Pioneer advised to replace the entire system as soon as possible. Tony said the commissioners can expect a bill for approximately $3000. The commissioners agreed it was a necessary expense.
    Tony then said the signs for the pond will be up soon. Signs saying “Ride respectfully or your privileges will be revoked” will be erected on the west side, and signs saying, “No Motorcycles/ATVs are allowed” will be put up on the other side. If these signs don’t work, they will attempt to use some different wording, or signs with rules. Bob suggested posting a sign with a curfew.
    Greg Wellbrock came in at 9:30 a.m. to present bids he’d received for a  new copier. He received a bid from Century Business Technologies and from Liberal Office Machines. He urged the commissioners to accept the lower bid from Liberal Office Machines, as their bid more closely adhered to the department’s needs. The commissioners moved to accept the bid from Liberal Office Machines and it was approved unanimously. Greg said NexTech would come install and program the copier.
    The commissioners then entered executive session regarding pending litigation with Greg Wellbrock present for eight minutes.
    Robert Davis came in to ask about changing the Airport Board meetings from the first Wednesday of each month to the first Tuesday of each month. The commissioners approved a motion to accept the change. Robert also said the airport project started Monday, August 18. Asphalt in front of the hangars will be replaced with concrete. This will most likely fix the drainage problem so water doesn’t pool in front of the hangars.
    Pat moved to appoint Jim as the voting delegate for the annual KAC conference November 12-14 in Wichita. Dave appointed Pat to be the first alternate.
    John Halbgewachs with Kirkham Michael was next on the agenda to present the company’s plan for the KDI road project. He handed their proposal to the commissioners for review. Essentially, the project will widen lanes and allow for an eastbound left-turn only lane to access KDI and a westbound right-turn only lane to accomodate the increased truck traffic. The project is projected to begin in spring 2015. During construction, John said two-lane traffic will be maintained. He anticipated the widening of each side would take only two to four weeks to complete. John also said Kennedy Street would most likely be closed during the first phase. Then the gas company road would be temporarily closed during the second phase. John then remarked the outside lanes of Highway 51 would be closed for some time. At this time, the first entry point to the access road on the south side - at McBride Construction - will be the only entry to remain open throughout the project.
    The highway improvement is currently estimated at a cost of $1.1 million, paid from the county’s general fund. Stevens County will be reimbursed 100 percent by KDOT. The commissioners inquired as to what would be required of Anadark regarding the casing of one of their high pressure gas lines near the improvement area. John agreed to speak to both KDOT and Anadarko about how to proceed. Currently, the plan is to get bids in October and November, and begin construction in March or April 2015. John related Kirkham Michael will try to coordinate with KDOT’s spring 2015 project on Highway 56 to effect some cost savings.
    After the commissioners reviewed the minutes from the last meeting, the board adjourned. The next meeting of the Stevens County Commissioners will be Tuesday, September 2.

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