Mitchell County Commissioners

April 20, 2015

by Terry Bailey


The Mitchell County Commissioners conducted their regular weekly meeting at the Courthouse, Monday, April twentieth. All three Commissioners were present as well as the County Clerk.

First on the agenda was the trio of County Assessor Melinda Latham, County Treasurer Yvonne Melton, and Economic Development Specialist Heather Hartman. The delay in approval of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program by the Attorney General’s office has created a hiccup or two in getting all the details of the program signed off in the correct order.

Melton, Latham and Hartman went over the finer details of the Program. By Kansas Statute, before the new program can take place, a notice of a public hearing must be published in the official county paper for two consecutive weeks and then an open public hearing must be conducted by the Commissioners at the time and place in the published announcement. The Commissioners were of a mind that while most of the expected activities had been completed, it would be well to follow the exact letter of the law. Notice of a public hearing will be published in the Beloit Call as prescribed by statute and then a public hearing will be conducted so that everything is done as directed.

Melton reminded the Commissioners that when participating in the Neighborhood Revitalization program, persons must pay their taxes ON TIME. Should someone’s taxes become delinquent, they would no longer be eligible for the program. Additionally, should someone chose to Pay Taxes Under Protest, they would be ineligible for participation in the Neighborhood Revitalization program. It was decided that Melton’s office would notify by mail everyone participating in the program regarding these details. It was the consensus of the group that everyone participating in the program should already be aware of these provisions, but it was better to err on the side of too much information rather than not enough.

Commission Chairperson Tom Claussen asked Melinda Latham if her office conducted tours or inspections of the properties granted tax abatement by the Neighborhood Revitalization program. He commented, “How else would we know the value of the completed project was in line with the application?” He added, “Someone asked me about the inspection process. He said he wouldn’t do it because he didn’t want anybody poking around in his house.”

Latham announced that they do conduct formal inspections of all properties involved in the program. The do a “walk-through” and take pictures. She added, “Everything is strictly confidential. All pictures and written notes are kept in a secure location and nobody would have access to them unless legally entitled.

Following along with that line of business, the Commissioners reviewed three Neighborhood Revitalization applications. The first was from Gregory Snyder of Glen Elder for a new commercial rental building in the amount of twenty-nine thousand nine hundred ten dollars.

A second application was from Chris and Kendra Wagner for a residential addition, patio, and a porch in the amount of forty –seven thousand five hundred dollars.

A third application was submitted by Brandon and Amanda Pounds for a thirty foot by forty foot garage in the amount of thirty-two thousand, one hundred eighty-seven dollars.

All three applications were unanimously approved by the Commissioners.

A Fire Chiefs meeting was held on April sixteenth. Randy Gengler was appointed to the Rescue Squad to replace Tom Deneke. Blake Miller, pending final approval by the City Council, was appointed to replace Steve Rugg as Fire Chief.

An interesting training activity will take place in Asherville on Monday, April twenty-seventh. Larry Heidrick has arranged for a Life Star helicopter to fly to Asherville from Junction City so the fire units can practice the many necessary safety procedures for the safe landing of such a rescue vehicle. The arrival time of the Life Star helicopter, weather permitting, is seven p.m. at the open lot across from the old grade school.

Tom Claussen announced that on September twentieth, which is a Sunday, a Burn Trailer Exercise will be conducted using the University of Kansas mobile training vehicle. This training, also arranged by Larry Heidrick, will be conducted in Asherville. This trailer is equipped and set up to simulate a real life “smoke-filled house” exercise. Firefighters will work inside the trailer with full gear on to gain experience operating in a situation that is hard to simulate otherwise.

The Commissioners discussed a recommendation by Steve Rugg regarding mutual assistance agreements between the various departments in the County that might respond to an emergency. Several years ago a tornado struck Glen Elder and the County crews responded with their machinery and dump trucks and personnel to quickly clean up the disaster. In today’s world, County crews could not assist in a municipality without an official authorization agreement.

Yes folks, it has come to that.

The Commissioner decided it would be wise to work out all the necessary paperwork so that neighbors could help each other in times of emergency.

Next on the agenda were Eldon Koepke, Curt Frazier, and County Attorney Mark Noah. They requested a fifteen minute executive session to discuss confidential real estate acquisition. No action was taken as a result of the executive session.

The Commissioners voted permission for Koepke to pursue real estate acquisition for the Mitchell County Hospital Health Systems.

Mr. Noels of Noels Building and Maintenance reported to the Commissioners that the roofing work was completed with the exception of the Bell Tower. The crane used to assist with the job has to leave for a few days but will be back so they can finish the roofing. The Commissioners approved a partial payment to Noels of thirty thousand dollars to be issued on May sixth.

Becky Schaeffer, Director of Communications, requested a ten minute executive session to discuss non-elected personnel. No action was taken as a result of the closed session.

Schaeffer also told the Commissioners that one of the hard drives in the CAD server was no longer working. She expects a new hard drive to cost about seven hundred dollars and she has money in her budget to cover the cost.

Chad Lorence addressed the Commissioners regarding signage to alert motor vehicle operators about the use of roads by cyclists within Mitchell County. He presented the Commissioners with a letter addressed to the Kansas Department of Transportation requesting assistance, permission, and so forth in the project. The letter was signed and Lorence will forward it to KDOT.

Lorence displayed a map of the county with the roads color coded. Clint Offut was quite helpful in producing the map. Lorence had polled other cyclists who travel the county roads about placement and number of signs. The consensus of the cyclists was that signs should be posted on roads when drivers enter the county alerting them to the possibility of cyclists on the roads. They believed signs should be posted at the top and bottom of hills, around curves, dangerous intersections and generally in places where common sense would indicate people needed to be alert to cyclists

The group discussed various places and vendors where signs could be made to order. The group was sure that KDOT would be very specific regarding signs on their highways. All told, Lorence anticipated forty-nine signs on Kansas DOT roads and forty on Mitchell County roads.

Lorence encouraged any interested citizens of Mitchell County to contact him regarding the posting of signs alerting drivers to the presence of cyclists or any other bicycle related issue. His number is 785-534-1054.

At that point the items on the agenda had been addressed and the Commissoners adjourned the meeting.



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