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Commission stalls project bids, expresses concerns





Ellis County commissioners delayed until next week’s meeting to advertise for bids again for renovation of the new county administration building at 718 Main. Commissioners hoped to review the new design today.

Denae Denio-Odle of Spangenberg Phillips Tice Architecture reviewed changes in the design with commissioners at Monday’s meeting. One change would be to keep the staircase on the ground floor leading up to the second floor, and eliminating the staircase to the basement. Commissioners were told the resulting open space would be blocked by a wall and railing.

Commissioners expressed safety concerns with the design, and Sund was concerned the opening would not block out sound traveling between the basement and ground floor.

“I didn’t realize it was going to be open until (Monday night),” Sund said.

In other business:

• Commissioners received a report from the county clerk on the election canvass for the Ellis city election April 1.

• Commissioners received a report from Ellis County Rural Fire Director Dick Klaus on the number of fires or incidents in the county so far in 2014. Klaus said the department has gone on 74 calls so far this year, including 24 fires labeled as suspicious.

• Commissioners approved a resolution to adopt the Northwest Kansas Planning and Development Commission’s five-year report on solid waste management, as required by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

• Commissioners approved advertising for bids the stormwater project for the county building at 601 Main. The cost of construction is estimated to be $26,700, not including engineering fees. The project is estimated to take 40 calendar days until completion.

• Commissioners approved an amendment to the courthouse, sheriff’s department, EMS and public works department union contracts. Given approval, it changes the day of the year for an employee’s Paid Time Off to be based on Jan. 1, and not date of hire.

• Commissioners received a report from Public Works Director Mike Graf about creating a new classification of senior mechanic to hire qualified applicants and promote qualified mechanics already on staff. The county has had difficulty hiring people in recent years due to applicants being able to make more money elsewhere.

• Commissioners were updated by Graf and Sund on efforts to receive Kansas Department of Transportation grant funding for road improvements on 230th Avenue, Feedlot Road and 55th Street.

Graf and Sund were told KDOT is not willing to grant funds to improve local roads unless they affect Interstate 70. Sund said in his memo Feedlot Road is too far outside the I-70 corridor and not eligible for funding. Graf and Sund also learned funding could be difficult for 230th Avenue north of 55th Street because it is a local road and KDOT does not consider all of 55th Street between 230th Avenue and U.S. Highway 183 eligible for funding.

Graf and Sund also have learned KDOT has shut down its revolving loan fund.

• Commissioners received the county health report for February.

• Commissioners recognized the emergency management department has been active in the county for 50 years.

• Commissioners received the financial report for February.