The Mitchell County Commissioners met on Monday, August 21 and received an annual report from Solomon Valley Transportation (SVT). Tammy Kimminau, Director of SVT, appeared along with SVT Board President Harold Heidrick.
Kimminau reported that she has been working to get more financial support from Osborne County and succeeded in that effort recently. Services had been initially served five days per week in Osborne County, but had been reduced to two days per week due to a lack of funding provided in the past by Osborne County. Services are provided 5 days per week in Mitchell and Jewell County. SVT traveled 106,000 miles and served 7,508 passengers from Mitchell County in the past fiscal year.
Heidrick pointed out that all the tax dollars donated by cities and counties stay in those areas. Funds donated from Mitchell County, for example, are not used in Osborne or Jewell County. The City of Beloit lately increased their yearly donation significantly. They are allotting a quarter mill annually, which equates to about $10,000. They previously contribute $3,000 per year. Mitchell County contributes $16,800 per year.
Not all SVT passengers are senior citizens, and this is a common misconception. It is general public transportation available to anyone who has need for it. Passengers get rides locally and even to appointments and events frequently to Salina, Wichita, Kansas City and more. SVT is planning two trips to the Kansas State Fair in September. The first will leave from Osborne on September 11 followed by a trip originating in Beloit on September 14. . It is also worthy to note that any amount that a patron pays above the suggested donation to SVT is tripled by various matching funds.
Kimminau also noted that a new service will soon be available which could compliment SVT. The new Kansas Rides 81 Connection will provide two routes per day which originate from Belleville with stops in Concordia, the Hwy. 24/81 junction, Minneapolis on its way to Salina. There will be two trips per day to Salina and one originating in Salina. The service is set to begin September 5. Kimminau and Heidrick expressed some concerns about the logistics of the additional service, but expressed it has potential to be beneficial to SVT.
Director of Public Works Dale Housh reported on county road and bridge projects. Digging holes for the bridge pillars on the Tipton has slowed the project which is still expected to take another 2 months before completion. Sealing work in the county will stop bridge work for several days. Plade patching is taking place now with said sealing work to follow later.
Commissioner Tom Claussen opened a discussion about the Little Red Schoolhouse at the road side park on the south side of Hwy. 24 in Beloit. His comments were spurred by the First Impression program results released two weeks ago. He suggested that the City of Beloit assign workers, on the clock, to repair the dilapidated structure. Beloit City Manager Jason Rabe, who is a regular attendee at the commissioner’s meeting, said that the can has been kicked down the road, so to speak, in terms of the upkeep of the building. The building is owned by the city. It was expected to be moved to the Mitchell County Historical Society and refurbished, but that plan fell through. Mitchell County Tourism had expressed interest in the structure, but they do not feel as though they can afford to invest in it.
Claussen said he would like to at least see it sealed up and weather-proofed before winter. Commissioner Jim Marshall asked, in summary, if the structure was worth the investment which would be required to refurbish it. Rough estimates run in the range of $20,000 to update the structure. Community Development Director Heather Hartman said feelers have been put out in-regard to gauging people’s interest in reviving the structure, but there simply hasn’t been much interest expressed. She said there is probably money available, but finding people willing to perform the work may be an issue. The commissioners agreed to go view the structure following the meeting.
The commissioners also received a letter from the state that the county appraiser’s office has met all the requirements set by the state for job and department performance.
It was also noted that Mitchell County Sheriff’s Deputy, Luke Deneke, is training for the North Central Kansas Regional Special Response Team.
The commissioners also approved a Neighborhood Revitalization Grant for temporary tax abatement for AJ and Carleen Baxa in USD 273 for a home, garage, basement and porch with a project cost of $350,000.
The next Mitchell County Commissioners meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 28 at 8:30 a.m.