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Courthouse AC system on the blink again

The Oskaloosa Independent of Oskaloosa, Kansas

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At least Jefferson County Public Works Director Bill Noll had the weather on his side Monday afternoon when he had to tell Commissioners Richard Malm, Lynn Luck and Wayne Ledbetter that the air conditioning system at the courthouse was no longer working... again.

Noll delivered the less-than-welcome news during the weekly meeting of the Board of County Commissioners as a gentle breeze brought relatively cool, dry air into the lower level of the courthouse through the open doors on the north and south sides of the building. He informed the trio seated before him that the problem could be attributed to the compressor, the same compressor Johnson Controls had installed just this past winter, but that because the unit was still under warranty, it would be replaced at no cost to the county.

Noll went on to report that the county would be getting a remanufactured compressor as opposed to a rebuilt compressor — he took the time to explain the difference between the two — and he indicated that he was hopeful the replacement unit would be delivered in time so that it could be installed sometime Friday. In the meantime, much to the delight of the Public Works director and other residents of the county, pleasant weather is in the forecast for much of this week.

Noll informed the board that he would be attending a pre-construction meeting the following morning in connection with the planned replacement of the bridge over Little Wild Horse Creek on Ferguson Road just north of US-24. He said the project would be getting underway Sept. 8, the day after Labor Day.

The Public Works director also mentioned four other upcoming projects in his report. One of them is scheduled for next week and will bring Road and Bridge Department employees into Sarcoxie Township.

Beth Brown, R.N., Health Department administrator, announced that the annual fundraising event to benefit Hospice of Jefferson County, "A Taste of Elegance," would be held Saturday, Oct. 17, at Perry-Lecompton High School. Activities planned for the evening include a live auction, a silent auction and the traditional Country Market. The doors will open at 5:30.

Brown informed the commissioners that an advisory board for the Jerry White Family Care Clinic had been formed and would be looking to identify possible sources of revenue to support the operation of the clinic, which was established to provide health care for the uninsured ages 0-64. She also announced that the Health Department was preparing to sign a collaborative agreement with Dr. Mary Rardin, who is affiliated with F.W. Huston Medical Center in Winchester, to provide professional services.

Brown reported that three school nurses would be available to meet the needs of students in the Oskaloosa, Perry-Lecompton, Valley Falls, Jefferson County North and Jefferson West school districts during the 2015-2016 school year. She said the McLouth school district had its own school nurse and indicated that her department had "a good relationship" with that nurse.

Brown also told the commissioners about a "pilot wellness initiative" her department is implementing in the Valley Falls school district this fall and said she was hopeful the initiative could be extended at some point to include the other five districts in the county. In Valley Falls, through the initiative, students will be able to participate in organized wellness-oriented activities three mornings a week prior to the start of the school day.

A lease agreement between the county and Giant Communications Inc., Holton, was unanimously approved by the board. The arrangement will enable the company to lease space in a conduit that runs between the courthouse and the Information Technology office on the east side of the courthouse square.

The agreement was presented to the commissioners for their consideration by Chris Schmeissner, the county's Geographic Information System/Information Technology director. He told the trio that County Counselor Josh Ney had reviewed the document and made some slight changes to it Carl Eyman and David Luke, representing KWORCC and KCAMP, respectively, appeared before the board to provide it with detailed information about the county's insurance claims over the past 12 months and to discuss the county's insurance rates in light of these claims. At one point Ledbetter asked Eyman what factors went in to calculating the county's rate with KWORCC, which apparently is going up, and was visibly frustrated by the answer he received from him. According to Luke, who followed Eyman to the lectern, the county signed a three-1 year contract with KCAMP last year, and the county's contribution level will be decreasing next year. He also reported that with the help of a grant the county received from KCAMP, it was able to acquire body cameras and grill guards for use by the Sheriff's Office.

KWORCC stands for Kansas Workers Risk Cooperative for Counties.

KCAMP stands for Kansas County Association Multiline Pool.

Representing Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Kansas, Lisa Toyne met with the commissioners to discuss the county's insurance claims over the past 12 months as it was preparing to renew its contract with the company, which it subsequently did despite a 50 percent increase in the premium.

Toyne informed the commissioners that the county's claims had outstripped its reserves by $364,000, and when Ledbetter asked her if she had any suggestions to make that would enable the county to lower the premium going forward, she said the county might want to consider making some modifications to its current plan. She also mentioned the possibility of joining the state's plan and proceeded to name four counties in northeast Kansas, Marshall, Jackson, Nemaha and Doniphan that have already made that move.

On a 3-0 vote, the board unanimously approved Resolution 2015-23, a resolution increasing the biweekly compensation of the Geographic Information System/Information Technology director to $2,692. The raise is retroactive to July 6.

The board unanimously approved Resolution 2015-24, a resolution authorizing the transfer of $50,000 from the Equipment Reserve Fund to the General Fund.

The first of three executive sessions held during the two-hour, 50-minute meeting gave the commissioners a chance to interview a candidate for the position most recently occupied by Emergency Management Director Mike Baxter, whose resignation took effect earlier this month. Malm, Luck and Ledbetter met privately with the man for an hour altogether, asking for 15 minutes of additional time to further question him after 45 minutes, the amount of time originally requested for the closed-door discussion, had elapsed.

No binding action was taken when the meeting reopened to the public, as interviews. with other applicants are planned.

At the request of Sam Henderson, the county's Planning and Zoning administrator, an executive session was held for the stated purpose of discussing personnel matters relating to non-elected personnel. The session lasted about eight minutes and no binding action was taken afterward.

The final closed-door discussion had only the commissioners as participants and was held for the stated purpose of discussing personnel matters relating to non-elected personnel. The conversation required just 10 minutes, the amount of time requested for privacy, and again, no binding action was taken when the meeting reopened to the public.

Copyright 2015 The Oskaloosa Independent, Oskaloosa, Kansas. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: August 27, 2015

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