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Commission keeps Monday meetings
Change to Wednesdays tabled for more discussion
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The Barton County Commission will continue to meet at 9 a.m. on Monday mornings, at least for now. Commissioners Monday morning tabled action on rescheduling their meetings to Wednesdays so the matter could be discussed further.

“I look at our commission and four fifths of us are retired and can kind of make our own schedule,” District 5 Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. The exception was District 3 Commissioner Shawn Hutchinson who still runs his own business, and this led to discussing a change.

“He indicated that Monday is the day that he gets the week started and that Wednesdays were going to work better for him,” she said. “We all kind of said days don’t matter to us so much.”

So, for now, it would mostly benefit Hutchinson. But, “if at some point, there are other people who are working in our community, it might make it easier for them to join the commission.”

District 1 Commissioner Kirby Krier said it I really didn’t matter to him since he was self employed. But, he was concerned about county newspapers covering the commission, specifically the weekly Ellinwood Leader and Hoisington Dispatch, which print on Tuesdays so the switch would make them a week late.

“For transparency, it wouldn’t be good for the papers,” he said. “So, right now, I’m probably leaning against the motion.”

Representatives from the Great Bend Tribune and Eagle Radio, both present at the meeting, noted that a change would not interfere with their coverage.

He was also concerned about the county’s accounts payable schedule. Some payment schedules would have to be changed to avoid late charges since bills are now paid on Mondays.

Wednesdays may also conflict with association meetings that commissioners and county officials attend. 

“I really appreciate all you guys thinking this because, you know, it’s one of those things that I had in my bag forever and I never brought it up,” Hutchinson said. “So I feel like it was you guys really kind of looking out for me and I truly appreciate that.”

That being said, he didn’t want the commission to change just for him. “I’m here for the people and if it needs to be Mondays, I’ll be here. If it needs to be Wednesdays that might work better for me, but I don’t think that would be a reason to vote for it.” 

There was one other reason for a switch, Hutchinson said.

“I did have a an instance of where I believe that would be more beneficial to our community if it wasn’t on Monday mornings,” he  said. “Many years ago when I wanted to come present the commission, I was unable to attend the meeting because it was on Monday morning” because he would have had to close his business to be here on Monday morning. 

It would have been easier later in the week for him to prepare and make arrangements to be gone.

He was asked if he was fine with the status quo.

“I’ll make it work. You bet,” Hutchinson said. “I mean, it works better for me on Wednesday, but more important than that I think it would work better for our community. People would be able to be here more readily.”

However, “if anyone’s on the fence about it, don’t vote yes because it’s for me,” he said.

The county department heads present said making the change made no difference to them.

“It’s immaterial on Wednesdays Mondays, Tuesdays Fridays, it doesn’t matter,” Chairman Jim Daily, District 4, said. “I am part of that four fifths who are retired. It really doesn’t make any difference.”

But, “I really do not want to short circuit newspapers,” he said. “It would just make it to where they don’t really have a reason to cover the county. So that’s really changing my consideration.”

It was Hutchinson who moved to table the matter. It passed unanimously.


Background

The tabled resolution would have rescinded s a resolution adopted on July 24, 2017. That came after a statute was enacted as of July 1, 2017, that required Kansas counties to adopt resolutions establishing regular meeting schedules and that changes must also be made via a resolution.

Kansas law authorize the commission to meet in regular session on such days and at such times each month as it sees fit. These regular meetings must be in open session “so that the business of the County can be transacted in the most expeditious and transparent manner” and “be held at such time and place to constitute a dependable schedule and regular, weekly meetings, shall take place unless otherwise announced.”


Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:

• Tabled a resolution setting the weekly County Commission meetings at 9 a.m. on Wednesdays instead of on Mondays.

State statures authorize the commission to meet in regular session on such days and at such times each month as it sees fit. 

• Approved revisions to the Barton County Employee Relations Committee bylaws.

The ERC was established to promote good relations among the employees of Barton County. It works with the commission and the county administrator regarding matters that are of interest or concern to employees, ERC President Ryan Lichter said.

The biggest change is that the employee of the quarter will be awarded eight hours of paid time off.

• Approved a resolution establishing procedures for the use, management, and disposition of equipment purchased with federal funding for Barton County.

Grant Coordinator Sue Cooper presented the resolution. It additionally provides a method for depreciating equipment and assets valued over $5,000.

• Approved American Rescue Plan Act funding reimbursements and distributions.

Barton County received $2,503,634.50 from ARPA on May 20, Grant Coordinator Sue Cooper said. 

States, territories, counties and cities received State and Local Fiscal Recovery funds (SLFRF) to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, “as units of government have endured immense public health and economic needs created by the crisis,” she said. Given the criteria for expenditure of these funds, it is suggested that the money be used to offset COVID-related expenses to include payroll, the 2020 single audit and legal expenses relative to the county counselor. 

• Approved reappointments and new appointments to the Barton County Local Emergency Planning Committee.  

The LEPC is comprised of representatives from the following groups: state/local officials; law enforcement; firefighting; emergency management; health; hospital; broadcast media and/or communications media; transportation; local environmental group; community service/civic group; emergency medical services; and facilities/industries regulated by SARA Title III, Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller said. 

The group has been expanded to also include education and behavioral health professionals. 

Reappointments include:

Kelly Bachar, UKHS Great Bend Campus

Britney Bailey, Ellinwood EMS

Stephen Billinger, Barton County Sheriff’s Office

Lindsey Bogner, Ellinwood Hospital and Clinic

Gaila Demel, United Way of Central Kansas

Judy Goreham, Barton County Environmental Management

Don Halbower, at-large county resident

Linn Hogg, RSVP/VIP of Central Kansas

Doug Hubbard, Fire District No. 1 /Claflin

Christina Jimenez, Sunflower Diversified Services

Luke McCormick, Great Bend Fire and EMS

Roger McPherson, Fuller Industries LLC.

Amy Miller, Barton County Emergency Management

Martin Miller, Great Bend Airport

Dennis Neeland, at-large county resident

Dena Popp, Barton County Communications/911

Steve Webster, Eagle Radio

Donna Zimmerman, Barton County clerk 

New appointments include:

Patrick Crowdis, USD 431 - Hoisington

Amanda Hoffman, Clara Barton Hospital

Mark Kircher, Wheatland Electric Cooperative

Kristian Pearson, The Center for Counseling and Consultation

Karen Winkelman, Barton County Health Department