Topics ranging from snow clearing to fire danger and getting back into the courthouse dominated discussions at the Dickinson County Commission’s March 10 business session, as county department heads and elected officials informed the commissioners of the work in progress in their respective offices.
As snow flew outside that day, Roads and Bridges Supervisor Martin Tannahill said snowplow operators cleared snow but areas backfilled as soon as they were cleared . Due to conditions, crews would not be willing to hit the gravel roads until that evening.
The current high price of oil – pushed up by the war in Ukraine – has had a detrimental effect on the price of hot mix asphalt, used for road works during the summer.
“As of yesterday, hot mix asphalt was $4.20 per tonne more than last year, representing a 9-10% increase,” Tannahill said. “That’s $85,000 to $90,000 more to do the same number of routes that we do in an average year.”
The price of cling oil is still unknown, but Tannahill said once he knows the cost of the materials he can work out how much road work can be done.
Emergency Management Director Chancy Smith noted that even though it was snowing at the time, the county was still in a wildfire danger zone.
“I guess three days after the snow stops we’ll be in fire danger again,” he said.
Smith, who is also the county facilities manager, thanked Tannahill crews for helping to “tear down” Sterl Hall after the district court left, tearing down walls, removing wires, cleaning up soil and return it to its “natural state in four hours”.
County Attorney Andrea Purvis and District Court Clerk Cindy MacDonald each thanked various county staff for their assistance during the moving process. Both said their new office furniture had been installed, they were getting organized, and they were back to business.
MacDonald also reported that the first jury trial of the year is scheduled for March 21.
• Environmental Services Manager Derek Norrick said the Noxious Weed department is now able to sell chemicals. Legally, they can’t do that before March 1. His office is still looking for a sprayer operator.
• Assessor Lisa Berg said CVNs (change of value notices) were mailed out on March 1 and her office received 25 calls and a number of calls that were easily answered with an explanation.
• Record of Deeds Rose Johns said her office is getting organized and preparing to return to the courthouse.
• Treasurer Leah Hern reported that the March 8 past due tax sale was a success and raised over $28,000 and the second tax distribution will be mailed this week.
• Director of Human Resources, Diane Greenough, said she had interviewed candidates and that several positions are still available.
• County Clerk Jeanne Livingston’s office worked on Homestead’s tax filings with 41 scheduled filings, as well as township, fire district and watershed budgets and electoral filings.
• MIS/IT Manager, Sherry Massey, reported that her staff were busy with moves, transitioning the phone system from old to new, preparing for upcoming moves and many other tasks.
• Ass. County Administrator/Budget Director Janelle Dockendorf said the annual audit is underway and budget worksheets have been sent to each department and she will begin scheduling meetings to discuss the 2023 budget. and the capital plan. The first drug court was scheduled to start this week.
• 911 Communications Director Emily Nichols said 911 calls were up from this time last year and that she will be participating in 911 Goes to Washington the week of March 14. Nichols is the president of the Kansas chapter of the Association of Public-Safety Communication Officials (APCO), which is sponsoring the trip.
• Sheriff Jerry Davis said he promoted several personnel, creating vacancies in other areas and said he received a request from the Kansas Highway Patrol for the Kansas National Guard to collect the vests or helmets outdated or extra ballistics to send to Ukraine. His department donated five vests and 14 helmets.
• Chisholm Trail Extension 4-H Development Officer Jill Martinson said the office continues to provide VITA (Voluntary Income Tax Assistance) assistance and the Medicare Advantage plan; Registration for Walk Kansas is now open; community gardens are open in Herington and Abilene; the 74th annual 4-H basketball tournament was set for Saturday, March 12, and the fairgrounds cleanup took place on March 13. Although Chisholm Trail Extension is a stand-alone entity, Martinson notifies county staff of extension activities.