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Commissioners decide a second CodeRed message is necessary

The Oskaloosa Independent of Oskaloosa, Kansas

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(Editor's note: A story about the Sept. 14 meeting of the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners appeared in last week's issue of the paper, but it did not fully cover what took place that afternoon at the courthouse, so the following information is being included in this week's paper.)

Jefferson County Commissioners Richard Malm, Lynn Luck and Wayne Ledbetter instructed Public Works Director Bill Noll to utilize the Code Red emergency notification system to send a message encouraging residents of the county to choose hard-surfaced roads over gravel roads in finding an alternative route in the wake of the closing of Ferguson Road, between US-24 and 39th Street, six days earlier. The road was closed so the Road and Bridge Department could begin dismantling the concrete bridge over Little Wild Horse Creek. That accomplished, the construction of a replacement bridge will get underway.

The board directed Noll to use Code Red in an effort to communicate the county's wishes to its residents because the county has not posted an official detour route. In an email Noll sent to the paper on Sept. 15 in response to a question, he said "there is a liability associated with posting the most practical detour routes at 39th Street." Elaborating, he went on to say that if the county were to direct traffic west toward Thompsonville Road, it would be liable for any damage done to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' spillway road, which is asphalt, and that if it were to direct traffic east, motorists would soon find themselves trying to negotiate a hilly gravel road, or putting it another way, a "lesser road surface."

Had an official detour route been posted, Noll said in the email, it would have taken drivers east to Oskaloosa from the intersection of K-92 and Ferguson, then south on US-59 to US-24, then west on US-24 to Ferguson. According to him, the board decided against the move because the detour route is so far away from the work site.

Noll informed the board that he would be placing a "Road Closed Ahead" sign at the intersection of K-92 and Ferguson and multiple "Road Closed" signs near the intersection of US-24 and Ferguson, pending the approval of the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Noll reported that the Code Red message advising residents that Ferguson was about to be closed reached 3,549 telephone numbers out of a possible 8,046 and that the effort also included the sending of 343 emails, 568 texts and two TDD messages. He said the county was able to make contact with 44 percent of the people in its database.

Noll informed the commissioners that he would begin conducting traffic counts along both Linn Road and 39th Street in two days.

Noll told the board that at some point it might need to pass a series of resolutions authorizing the transfer of various funds into a single fund from which he can produce the money needed for the new bridge. "I doubt if I'll have $600,000 to pay for that bridge," he said.

County Appraiser Tanya Erichsen appeared before the board to update it on the readjustment of the models her office has been using to determine land values throughout the county. She said the process, which began three years ago, was "pretty well completed" and that now, instead' of utilitizing 76 different models in determining land values, she and her co-workers can accomplish that same task with 42 models.

Erichsen told the commissioners that in the past, land values within the county were determined solely on the basis of sales comparisons but that now, three methods, one of which is sales comparisons, are employed in evaluating land. She said the use of all three methods results in a "much more uniform valuation."

According to Erichsen, land values within the county are "staying flat" for the most part.

At the request of Robert and Alison Barnes, 8500 Wellman Road, the board unanimously approved PR2015-09 and Z2015-09. PR2015-09 is associated with Barnes Hill Subdivision, a one-lot subdivision encompassing 30 acres situated on the east side of Wellman between 86th Street and 94th Street. PR stands for plat review. Z2015-09 changes the zoning classification of the subdivision from "AG" (agricultural) to "RR" (rural residential).

When the Regional Planning Commission met Aug. 24 to consider the Barneses' request and others, it voted 3-0 to recommend to the board that the request be approved with the stipulation that the existing right-of-way along Wellman be increased by 20 feet.

Voting 3-0, the board approved Z2015-10 at the request of Clinton Mitchell, Lori Hinman, John Call, Galen Call and Steven Call. Z2015-10 changes the classification of the property at 11175 150th Street from "SR" (suburban residential) to "AG". The property had consisted of only five acres of land, but when it was combined with an adjoining 35 acres of land, it became eligible for the "AG" classification.

The property lies south of 150th between Labette Road and Effingham Road.

During the RPC's Aug. 24 meeting, it voted 3-0 to recommend to the board that the quintet's request be approved.

DP2015-06 was unanimously approved by the board at the request of Dennis and June Schultz, who own the property at 14501 US-59 Highway. DP2015-06 amends CU2003-13 and will enable the couple to manufacture and install trailer hitches and sell agricultural products at the property, which covers 13.4 acres. They also will be allowed to put up signs of a commercial nature.

DP stands for development plan, CU for conditional use as in conditional use permit.

When it met Aug. 24, the RPC made the recommendation that the Schultzes' request be approved with multiple stipulations. One stipulation was that outdoor fabrication be limited to the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., another was that the retail space be no larger than 1,000 square feet, and still another was that anything stored outside be placed behind a six-foot privacy fence. The RPC also stipulated that the required ADA access not force individuals with disabilities to pass through a manufacturing area. ADA stands for Americans with Disabilitties Act.

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: September 24, 2015

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