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Friday, October 30, 2020

Mitchell County Commissioners Ask For Public Input On Cawker Causeway

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Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids, and graduated from Valley Heights High School in May of 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. After stops at KFRM and KCLY radio in Clay Center, he joined KNDY in 2002 as a board operator and play by play announcer. Derek is now responsible for the digital content of Dierking Communications, Inc. six radio stations. In 2005 Derek joined the staff of KCFX radio in Kansas City as a production coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, which airs on over 94 radio stations across 12 Midwest states and growing. In 2018 he became the Studio Coordinator at the Cumulus Kansas City broadcast center for Kansas City Chiefs Football.

The Mitchell County Commissioners met on Monday morning. Along with the commissioners in attendance were County Clerk Chris Treaster and Beloit City Administrator Jason Rabe. Discussion was held regarding the project planned to update safety measures on the Cawker Causeway road. There has been some confusion as to when the federally funded project was scheduled to start and how it will be completed.

The project is headed by Jeff Jerome of the Federal Highway Administration who submitted a notice which was published in the newspaper. The notice stated, in part, that the project will replace deficient guardrail and also improve recreational access to Waconda Lake by providing an expanded road shoulder to allow for additional parking on the causeway by widening the road on one side by 10-12 feet along as much as 1,500 feet of roadway.

Commissioner Jim Marshall said the main reason for the work is for the safety of drivers, and that the county is interested in obtaining the most linear feet of guardrail or a three cable guardrail system they can obtain for the money. Based on available information, the three-cable guard system is believed to be the most effective in keeping cars on the roadway in the event of an accident.

There appeared to be a consensus among the commissioners that extra parking along the causeway is a secondary consideration and not their top priority. However, the commissioners are asking the public to share their suggestions and comments in terms of what should be prioritized on the project. Those comments should be directed to FHWA-CFLHD Attention: Jeff Jerome, 12300 Dakota Ave. Suite 380, Lakewood, CO 80228 or via email to jeffrey.jerome@dot.gov or by phone at 720-963-3359. Comments are due by the end of business on April 19, 2017.

The meeting was joined by Sheriff Tony Perez and Deputy Steve Martin. The pair discussed the possibility of obtaining a Dodge Durango SUV for the sheriff’s department. The plan is to sell the Dodge Challenger used by Sheriff Doug Daugherty during his tenure to help pay for the SUV. Perez also said there are some concerns stemming from issues with carrying equipment in the back of the patrol pick-ups as moisture and dust gets in the back end.

Commissioner Tom Claussen gave Perez the go ahead to pursue obtaining the Durango, but he said this will likely be the last vehicle the commissioners will approve for purchase for “several years” due to budget caps going in place in the coming year. The cap does not apply specifically to law enforcement expenditures, but Claussen said all expenditures will have to be considered in the overall budget picture for the county moving forward.

Perez also said they have changed the weapons they carry on-duty. They were carrying .40 caliber semi-automatic pistols which they have sold and replaced them with less expensive 9mm semi-autos. Perez said the change was made because they are similar weapons, but the ammunition for the 9mm guns are less expensive.

Director of Public Works Dale Housh appeared and presented concrete bids. Two bids were opened. Beloit Redi-mix offered six sack 33% rock concrete mix at $119 per cubic yard. Abram Redi-mix offered the same type at $114.94. Concrete work was performed on a low water crossing in the county recently. The commissioners approved the low bid from Abram Redi-mix. The approved pricing is valid from April 1 through June 30 of this year.

Housh also said they have two cell phones. One of them is the phone Housh carries which was previous Director Larry Emerson’s work phone, and the other is at the landfill. Those phones are in Emerson’s name and he requested that be changed since he retired as of the end of March.
Housh said they planned to go to Salina this week to pick up tack-oil. The Gilbert Road, the blacktop north of Hunter and some sections of K Road are needing pothole repair. Housh was aware of it and they are addressing. Also, they are planning to repair some broken posts along the road near the spillway at Waconda Lake.

The commissioners then approved a Neighborhood Revitalization Grant for temporary tax abatement for Ken and Diana Roe at 321 East Main Street in at a project cost of $29,540 30x30x10 metal building.

The commissioner also approved a proclamation declaring April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month at the request of DVACK.

Mitchell County Regional Medical Foundation Director Stephanie Simmons delivered a quarterly update for the Community Health Grant. She said the Diabetes Prevention Program was launched in July of 2016. The program has led to 12 first time referrals. Six participants are taking part in a year-long program and have met all weight loss goals. They also learn management tactics in nutrition, physical activity and stress management.

She also shared information about the formation of the Healthy Eating Active Living (H.E.A.L) committee to work on health initiatives for the City of Beloit. They held their first meeting in March and will meet monthly. They are currently focusing on developing a Master Bike/Pedestrian plan for the city with regional connections. The HEAL committee is also interested in having a commissioner present at the meetings.

Simmons also said the medical foundation is gathering stakeholders to review data and set priorities for Mitchell County Community Health work. As the local board of health, the commissioners will be asked to be a stakeholder as well from a county perspective.

She also discussed upcoming work to be focused on in 2017. There is a hypertension and blood pressure management education program in the works. They are also looking to increase the engagement between county healthcare providers to improve patient outcomes and reduce chronic disease. This will be launched this year as the NCK Health Hub.

They are also working on chronic disease risk reduction through programs such as youth tobacco prevention and increased adult cessation programs for tobacco. Simmons also said the medical foundation is leveraging more resources for further implementation by writing for a Kansas Health Foundation Equity grants and Blue Cross Blue Shield Pathways grants during the spring of 2017. Simmons asked and the commissioners agree to providing letters of support for these grant writing efforts.

Solomon Valley Community Development Director Heather Hartman also joined the meeting and discussed the upcoming community cleanup scheduled to take place the first week of May. More information will be released to the public soon. The discussion was centered around what can and cannot be included in the cleanup project. It was stated that construction and demolition materials will not be eligible to be included in the community cleanup program. No commercial tires will be allowed as part of the program either.

The Mitchell County Commissioners are next scheduled to meet on Monday, April 10 at 8:30 a.m. at the Mitchell County Courthouse.

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