By Terry Bailey

The Mitchell County Commissioners faced a full slate of business items on the agenda for their regular weekly meeting Monday, June 13. All Commissioners and the County Clerk were present.
One topic of discussion that should generate a lot of interest arose when Kyle Peterson, Director of the Mitchell County Museum, and Vickie Mears, organization treasurer, presented their annual report to the Commissioners. As Peterson shared his thoughts on the long-range plans for the museum, a nagging question kept arising. "What to do with the Gabel Place" is a hard question to answer. Years ago, when the property was acquired, extensive plans were drawn up to make the house a visitors' center, information dissemination location and perhaps a location for Museum offices. All the plans were contingent upon obtaining a grant to fund all the activities. That grant fell through, and the money did not materialize. Since that time, the house has basically remained vacant and unoccupied.
The Gabel Corner occupies one of the major entry points to the City of Beloit. Peterson said a committee has been formed to study the issue. Certainly, the corner needs beautification of some sort. The museum has had numerous offers from private business enterprises to sell the three-acre parcel at a premium price. Peterson said the sale of the acreage could fund numerous other projects. A Committee made up of Peterson, Kelsey Adams, a Beloit City Council member and other yet unnamed persons will study this issue and present their findings to the Historical Society Board. He anticipates the first meeting to be held in September, perhaps in conjunction with a meeting of the City Council as an open forum with the public invited to attend and make their wishes known.
A question was asked of Peterson, "What would happen if the consensus of the committee was to clear all current trees and structures on the corner." Peterson replied, "We would tear down the building."
Peterson and Mears reported that the Museum has had over 1,000 visitors and hosted 340 school children visits since the final relocation to the American Legion building in December. They said the Struble Photography showing has been very successful. The Strubles generously provided photos and negatives from their fifty years of operating their studio in Beloit.
Peterson said all the success enjoyed by the Museum was made possible by the many volunteers who stepped up to get job done. In 2021 the Museum recorded 4,890 hours of volunteer assistance by local citizens.
They hope to have a new display focusing on the 1970s in the near future. That was a landmark decade, and it is "ancient history" to many of the younger people in our community. Also, KVSV began operation in 1982. This forty-year anniversary will be observed by a display at the museum.
Mears, the organization's treasurer, provided the Commissioners with the anticipated budget of $118,000 for 2023.
Dailey Jensen, Darrin Booth, and Judy Waymer representing Teal Enterprises from Emporia, Kansas, were at the meeting to present a health insurance plan for the Commissioners to consider instead of the County's current Blue Cross coverage.
Commissioner Tom Claussen opened the discussion by saying, "Our current Blue Cross-Blue Shield plan is a top-notch plan, and our employees view this as a strong fringe benefit. Our employee morale is high, and the insurance coverage contributes greatly to the high job satisfaction."
Waymer presented the general details of their program and provided a comprehensive look at what they had to offer. A specific comparison to Blue Cross will be available when the yearly insurance statistics are complied in October. The Commissioners were open to seeing the exact details of the Teal Enterprise's program but reiterated the fact that they were happy with the Blue Cross coverage.
Marty Hernandez was present for a bid opening for a new four-wheel drive, four door pickup for the road crew. Beloit Motors was unable to provide a bid due to uncertainty of production and delivery of any new pickups. Hernandez did have one bid from the Beloit Auto Truck Plaza, but the bid was not opened until a second bid could be obtained.
Following the County's policy of maintaining a long-range plan of keeping the machinery fleet up to date and modern, Casey Fraser from Caterpillar was present to give the Commissioners a bid for a new 140 series Caterpillar motor grader to replace an aging 120 series model.
Fraser was operating with a bit of uncertainty facing numerous delays for delivery of machinery due to supply chain ambiguity. However, he did give the Commissioners a bid for a 2023 model 140 motor grader with all-wheel drive and a 226-horsepower engine. The list price for such a machine is $388,452. He was offering a trade in value of $48,000 on the old machine to make the purchase cost $340,452.
After discussing the pros and cons of when to purchase the machine Commissioner Claussen made a motion to buy the new motor grader now, realizing that in today's environment, the cost was only going to go up. The motion passed. The new grader should be delivered in January or February of 2023.
Eric Hamel, director of the EMS, was on hand to give his monthly report regarding ambulance activity to the Commissioners. The ambulance service made a total of 52 runs in the month of May. Thirty-six of these runs were to Beloit, seven each to Cawker City and Glen Elder, and one each to Jewell and Simpson.
The time frame of 11 p.m. to midnight was the busiest with five runs made during that time period. Close behind were the time periods of 5-6 p.m., 8-9 a.m., 11 a.m. to noon with four runs in each of those time slots.
Tuesday was the busiest day with eleven runs. Friday accounted for ten runs and Monday with nine runs. The sixty to sixty-nine-year-old age group saw the most runs with fourteen runs recorded in that age group. The average time from when a call came into the ambulance barn until a until left the building was one point one five minutes.
A Neighborhood Revitalization Grant was approved for Sam and Susan Eilert for the construction of a 60' x 100' Treb building in the amount of $200,000.
Becky Snook, Director of Communications, presented the Commissioners with carpet bids for the hallway of the 911 building and steps on the outside stairs of the Courthouse. Bids had been received from Ellenz of Tipton and the Solomon Valley Building Center. The Commissioners awarded the purchase to Ellenz as they were the significantly low bidder. Commissioner Jim Marshall abstained from the vote.
Several executive sessions were held with no decisions being made as a result of any of them.
Having addressed all the items on the printed agenda, the meeting was adjourned at 11:30 a.m.


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Beloit, KS 67420, USA