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Bridge, road projects get approval





The Ellis County Commission approved engineering contracts for two county projects at Monday's regular meeting at the Ellis County Courthouse.

The commission approved a contract with Kirkham Michael and Associates Inc., Ellsworth, for design of a replacement bridge located 3 miles west and 2.7 miles south of Antonino. The fee is not to exceed $42,419.

The county will receive $985,000 in grant money from the Kansas Department of Transportation if the project is completed in a timely manner. With that in mind, the design plans and permits are to be completed so the project can be let for bids by KDOT no later than September 2015, one month earlier than requested.

Commissioners also approved a contract with BG Consultants Inc., Manhattan, for engineering services for a road improvement project on Old U.S. Highway 40 in the eastern part of the county, from 280th Avenue to the bridge at Pfeifer Avenue at Victoria. The fee is not to exceed $61,847. Construction for the $2.6 million overlay project would begin early in the 2014 construction season, by APAC-Kansas.

The county also is planning a road improvement project in the western part of the county on Old U.S. Highway 40, from Yocemento to Ellis.

Commissioner Swede Holmgren asked Ellis County Public Works Director Mike Graf about the life expectancy of the road projects.

"Doing this, are we getting the best bang for our buck, looking down the road five to 10 years," Holmgren asked.

"Our expectation is to well exceed a five-year period," Graf said. "I think our experience is showing us we're probably going to get 12 to 15 years out of these projects."

In other business:

* Commissioners voted not to serve as a sponsor for the 2014 Western Kansas Legislative briefing in Washington. The cost would have been $500.

* Commissioners received the December 2013 monthly health and financial reports.

* Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund reported to the commissioners testimony he gave concerning a nuisance cleanup bill in the Kansas Legislature. Sund said the bill would not come to a vote this session.

* Sund also updated commissioners on a bill in the Legislature concerning elimination of the mortgage registration fee. Ellis County and 99 other counties presented resolutions calling for the bill's defeat in the legislative committee. After the committee heard testimony for and against the bill, Sund said the chairman of the committee told both sides to get together and come up with a compromise bill to be brought before the committee in the next session.

* Commissioners approved a two-year cereal malt beverage license for the Outer Limits, Munjor, and a special event cereal malt beverage license for an event hosted by the Catharine Charitable Fund at the Ellis County Fairgrounds on Feb. 15.

* Commissioners met in executive session for 10 minutes with County Counselor Bill Jeter, Sund and Graf to discuss attorney/client communication. No action was taken.

* Commission Chairwoman Barbara Wasinger was not in attendance.