By Terry Bailey

The Mitchell County Commissioners conducted their regular weekly meeting at the Courthouse on Monday morning, June 5. All Commissioners as well as the County Clerk were present.
A contingent of representatives from the Occupational Center of Central Kansas (OCCK) were on hand to present their yearly report to the Commissioners. Sheila Nelson-Stout, executive director of OCCK, began by saying, "OCCK has grown a lot in the last ten years. Last year we served 4,790 people within our nine-county area with a staff of 320 people."
Commissioner Tom Claussen reminded everyone of the organization's humble beginnings locally as MJL. Everyone agreed the organization has continue to grow and provide necessary services for those living in rural Kansas.
Stout added, "We served 296 residents of Mitchell County last year including 29 children ages birth to three years old. We provided services to 45 people in Mitchell County who, without our assistance, would have not been able to remain living in their homes."
Kendra Krier, vice president, said, "We continue to give strong emphasis to Independent Living services. I have never conducted a first-time interview with a possible client who said, ‘I want to move to the nursing home.' People want to stay in their own homes, and we try to provide services to make that happen."
Krier went on to say that Crisis Management is another big area of emphasis. She listed mental health issues and living in isolation as two big areas where there is a need.
Vice President Susan Sprague described OCCK's effort to deal with increasing number of folks afflicted by Alzheimer's. As the population of rural Kansas keeps aging, Alzheimer's affects more and more people.
Alan Eilert, representing Rural Fire District #3, presented their budget request for next year. At the meeting last year, the Commissioners suggested the Fire District make small and steady requests for increases in their budget so that they do not get in a crunch and must ask for a large amount all at once.
Eilert said, "We are taking your advice and are asking to increase their budget by $1500 to increase it from $80,000 to $81,500."
He told the Commissioners they planned to consolidate their services in a more central location which should speed up response times. They hope to sell their Solomon Rapids station because it is becoming too small for the new equipment and is becoming an unsatisfactory location.
Eilert commented when asked about calls for wildfires, saying, "About half our calls deal with out-of-control wildfires."
The Commissioners approved a Neighborhood Revitalization grant for Clint Offutt to build a 45'x32'x12' steel building in the amount of $113,180.
The Commissioners signed a proclamation declaring the month of June as Elder Abuse Awareness month in Mitchell County.
David Dohe, Emergency Management Coordinator, requested a fifteen-minute executive session to discuss security issues of a corporation. At the end of the closed session, it was announced no decisions had been made because of the closed session.
Cortney Murrow, County Health Official, and Jesse Benedick, engineer for Schwab-Eaton, presented one more set of preliminary, tentative working plans for an ADA compliant parking lot at the Mitchell County Health Department building. Benedick said they would be back in two weeks with plans that should be suitable to release for bids.
Having addressed all items on the agenda, the meeting was adjourned.


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