Mitchell County Commissioners Monday August 21


Mitchell County Commissioners


Monday, August 21, 2017


By Terry Bailey



The Mitchell County Commissioners conducted their weekly meeting at the Courthouse Monday morning, August 21st. All Commissioners were present in addition to the County Clerk. Also in attendance was Beloit City Manager Jason Rabe and Solomon Valley Economic Director Heather Hartman. 

Dale Housh, Superintendent of Public Works, told the Commissioners that work was progressing on the replacement bridge project on K Road. “Work is progressing on the bridge but it is progressing slowly. The holes for the pilings are being drilled though black shale which is very hard rock. In two days we drilled eight twelve foot deep holes,” informed Housh.

Crews are doing blade patching on the hard surfaced roads that are scheduled for overlay or chip seal. This will give the roads a better base for the surfacing work that will be done. When the overlay and chip seal work begins, the bridge work will need to be shut down because all hands will need to be on deck to get the resurfacing work completed as fast as possible.

Housh had an application form for the Commissioners to sign that would enable Mitchell County representatives to go “shopping” at the Federal Surplus Property depository in Topeka. This depository holds a wide variety of tools and equipment that can be purchased at a greatly reduced price.

The Commissioners and Housh discussed the purchase of a 20 yard trailer to be used to rock, dirt and other material. Housh will look around and price trailers and gain information about a possible purchase. This trailer would hold the equivalent of two dump trucks.

A disscussion about a road in the southwest part of the County was held. The road particularly affects Steve Schneider. Housh will get together with Schneider and see if there is a way to correct the problems in the road.

Commissioner Tom Claussen called attention of the group to the condition of the Little Red Schoolhouse. “I did not know the building was in that bad of shape,” said Claussen. He went on to say that he would be in favor of having a crew of city and country employees spend some time “on the clock” to attempt to stabilize the building before winter so that it does not get any worse. This led to a discussion of the merits of paid employees versus volunteer workers. There are obvious pros and cons to each method of getting things done.

Two points were obvious. The Tourism Committee has no interested in taking responsibility for the Little Red Schoolhouse and the Mitchell County Historical Society has no interest in the Little Red Schoolhouse. Heather Hartman said, “It is sad but it appears nobody wants to take care of the building.”

Asked about the cost of fixing what is wrong with the building, Jason Rabe said, “It depends on a lot of factors but somewhere between 20 and 30 thousand dollars.”

Commissioner Jim Marshall said, “What happens if we spend money to fix it up and time passes with nobody taking care of the building? In five or ten years somebody will have building that is falling apart all over again.”

The Commissioners agreed to table the discussion and to take a trip to the Little Red Schoolhouse at the adjournment of the meeting.

Tammy Kimminau and Harold Heidrick were present to give the Commissioners an update on the Solomon Valley Transportation program. They have just purchased a brand new 2017 handicapped accessible minivan to add to their fleet capacity to help transport people.

They noted that Osborne County has voted to increase their contribution to the program which will enable more passengers and meet their needs. Everyone agreed that is a good thing for the people of Osborne County. Heidrick and Kimminau also noted the strong and continuing support from Mitchell County and the City of Beloit.

They also wanted to emphasize that SVT is not a senior citizen program nor a program for low income nor the handicapped. It is a public transportation program for anybody who needs assistance with getting from here to there and back again.

This past year SVT vehicles logged 106,000 miles transporting citizens of North Central Kansas. In traveling that total mileage SVT transported 7,500 passengers.

The Commissioners, Kimminau, and Heidrick discussed a soon to be intimated transportation program which will travel from Belleville to Salina on a daily basis. It would be possible for SVT to transport a passenger to the Hiway 24/81 junction and be picked up by the new transportation program.

The Commissioners reviewed a letter of commendation for Melinda Latham’s work in the Assessor Office. All valuation work fell within the expected guidelines.

A Neighborhood Revitalization Gant approval was approved for A.J. and Karlene Baxa for a new house construction which includes a garage and walkout basement. The cost of the construction will be $350,000.

Having addressed all items on the printed agenda, the meeting was adjourned. The Commissioners and Rabe then went to the Little Red Schoolhouse to take a first-hand look at the building.

The Commissioners and Rabe gave the building a very close examination inside and out. It was obvious that the building has numerous needs and things must be fixed if it is to be a viable part of our community. There were lots of questions and few easy answers. The discussion often came round to an obvious thought – “Who wants to accept responsibility for the ongoing care and upkeep for the building when and if it is fixed up?”