SmallTownNews
Price drops on replacing Little Wild Horse bridge

by Rick Nichols

The Oskaloosa Independent of Oskaloosa, Kansas

Jefferson County Public Works Director Bill Noll informed the Board of Commissioners Monday afternoon that he had received a new bid on replacing the concrete bridge along Ferguson Road that spans Little Wild Horse Creek, a bid that would allow the county to save a substantial sum of money if it is ultimately accepted.

Noll delivered his report during the board's weekly meeting at the courthouse. He told Commissioners Richard Malm, Wayne Ledbetter and Lynn Luck that the bid from King Construction Company Inc., Hesston, was in the amount of approximately $563,000 and that the county stood to save about $160,000 by accepting the proposal. He arrived at that figure by comparing the King bid with the best bid the county got when it solicited bids on the project several months ago. The county's original plan was to replace the bridge, which is located just north of US-24, this winter, but when the apparent low bid topped the engineer's estimate by $33,000, the decision was made to postpone the project until this coming fall.

"Good job," Luck told Noll in response to the cheaper bid.

Noll briefly discussed with the commission the internal climate of the courthouse, mentioning the work some of his employees have done in the Register of Deeds office in an effort to make conditions there more tolerable. "It's (the office) cold, then it's hot," he reported, suggesting that "rapid fluctuations" in the temperature outside were largely responsible for the problem. Ledbetter told the Public Works director that he had been in numerous places within the building in recent weeks and had not been uncomfortable in any of them.

Noll also discussed the status of the clock on the south wall of the courthouse. He told the commissioners that it would cost the county about $2,000 to have the clock, which has not been working for a long time, permanently removed and that it would cost the county roughly $3,400 to have the clock repaired. According to him, all of the gears associated with the clock are in good shape but the control switch is problematic.

"It's (potentially repairing the clock again and again) money down a rathole," Ledbetter remarked, making clear to all his view on the matter. Nevertheless, the commission put off until another time any sort of a decision.

Noll advised the board that he wanted to spend approximately $2,500 to obtain a gas furnace for the Road and Bridge Department's shop, citing the possibility of pipes bursting in cold weather as justification for the request. He told the commissioners the furnace could be connected to the existing gas line.

Noll also advised the board that he was interested in acquiring a washer and dryer for use by Auxiliary

Services employees at a total cost of about $660. He said the equipment would enable the employees to wash dirty mop heads as needed instead of having to rely on an outside vendor to do the work. Explaining the problem, he said some mop heads have become moldy while the county was waiting for the vendor to pick them up because the vendor only shows up when there are enough dirty mop heads to justify the trip to Oskaloosa.

The Public Works director gave the commissioners a list of the pieces of equipment he is hopeful the county can replace sometime this year. The list included a chipper, two belly dump trucks and a sign truck.

Dan Sedlak of rural Winchester appeared before the board to request that the county open an unmaintained stretch of Stitz Road in the vicinity of 134th Street so he can remove some trees from an area where he would like to install a fence. Sedlak pointed out that the move would make it easier for emergency vehicles to access the area in responding to a call for help, and he even indicated that he was willing to reimburse the county for the expenses it stands to incur in removing a number of large trees that are currently in the way.

"Let's see what a survey would cost," Malm told Sedlak, who left the room without the answer he had been hoping to get.

Following a slideshow-enhanced presentation by Planning and Zoning Administrator Sam Henderson, the board unanimously approved PR2014-18 and Z2014-18 much to the delight of the two women, Sheila Isern and Beverly Golder, who were requesting that the matter be disposed of in a favorable manner.

PR2014-18 establishes Bright Acres Subdivision, a three-lot subdivision near the northeast corner of Butler Road and 54th Street, while Z2014-18 calls for Lots 1 and 2, each of which covers roughly three and a half acres, to be rezoned from "RR" (rural residential) to "SR" (suburban residential. Lot 3, which encompasses about 14 and a half acres, will remain classified as "RR".

The Regional Planning Commission voted 5-0 to recommend that the board approve Isern and Golder's two-part request when it met in late November to consider the proposal.

The newest member of the Board of Zoning Appeals, Gale Rudolph, introduced herself to the commissioners and said she decided to seek the then-open position because she wanted to "get to know my county better and participate in it."

"I appreciate your interest and I hope you have a good experience," Ledbetter told Rudolph, who lives in the Rock Creek area. "Good to have you," Malm remarked.

The five-member BZA meets on an as needed basis.

On a 3-0 vote, the commissioners approved Resolution 2015-01, a resolution amending the county's purchasing policy to allow for the acquisition of an item costing more than $25,000 without a department head having first obtained one or more sealed bids. The move will enable Noll to buy a used chip-and-seal machine through an online auction if he ultimately decides to go that route, but it also clears the way for him or other department heads to be able to purchase more expensive items without having to secure sealed bids. Requests to bypass the purchasing policy will be considered on a case by case basis, however.

The board voted unanimously to retain Malm as its chairman, but it will have a new vice chairman, Luck, for the next 12 months. She replaces Ledbetter in that role and got the board's approval on a 3-0 vote.

County Clerk Linda Buttron administered the oath of office to Luck, who was re-elected to the board in November, early Monday afternoon prior to the start of the meeting.

County Counselor Josh Ney briefly discussed with the commissioners arrangements pertaining to a tax sale that is to be held later this year.

The board voted unanimously to designate The Oskaloosa Independent as the official paper for the county and the following seven financial entities as official depositories for the county, the State Bank of Oskaloosa, Kendall State Bank in Valley Falls, Union State Bank in McLouth (the former Bank of McLouth), Denison State Bank in Holton, Mutual Savings Association of Oskaloosa, First State Bank & Trust in Perry, and the Municipal Investment Pool in Topeka.

The existing hours for the courthouse, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, will remain intact.

The one-hour, 50-minute meeting ended with a 20-minute executive session requested by Beth Brown, R.N., administrator of the Health Department. It was held for the stated purpose of discussing matters involving non-elected personnel and included as participants Ney and Buttron, who were allowed to remain in the room to facilitate the discussion. No binding action was taken when the meeting reopened to the public.

The commissioners will not meet next week because of the holiday that is to be observed Monday across the country, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The courthouse will be closed that day as well.



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