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Commission OKs cold weather disaster declaration
Financial loss thresholds must be met
sunflower honors county officials
During the recent cold snap, Barton County Health Director Karen Winkelman and County Administrator Phil Hathcock worked on Presidents’ Day Holiday to give COVID-19 vaccinations to clients at Sunflower Diversified Services. Although Sunflower Executive Director Jon Prescott had already thanked the officials for their efforts, several Sunflower clients came to the County Commission meeting Monday morning to present Winkelman and Hatchcock with tokens of their appreciation. Pictured left to right are Jeneva Maier, Prescott, Michael Burress, Leon Ostrander, Thelma Northcutt, Sunflower Director of Medical Services Brandy Loomis, Sunflower Medical Operations Manager Sonny Falck, and Hathcock. Winkelman was not present. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Baby, it was cold outside.

The arctic blast that plunged central Kansas into the deep freeze created dangerous conditions and hardships for many, Barton County Emergency Manager Amy Miller told the County Commission Monday morning. That is why she asked for and the commission signed a proclamation of a state of local disaster emergency due to the cold. 

“Beginning Feb. 12, Barton County experienced damages as a result of the winter weather, to include arctic temperatures, dangerous wind chills and snow,” she said. “This is in an effort to participate in recovery efforts.”

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management will gather estimated damages from emergency managers throughout Kansas in an effort to obtain a Federal Disaster Declaration for the period Feb. 12-28. 

“The State of Kansas realizes after an event has happened that they need to collect damage, dollars for local counties, and sometimes counties realize they have more damages than what was apparent,” Miller said.

This covers any response efforts and other emergency protective actions the county or cities in the county may have had in response to the severe cold weather and snow that we had.

It is unclear if money will be available, Miller said. But, this is the first step regardless.

Now, the county has to meet a dollar amount threshold, which is around $106,000. Then, this goes to the state and the state must meet a roughly $4.4 million threshold. 

This triggers the mechanism for Kansas to request a federal disaster declaration. “So everyone is still in the process of gathering those dollar amounts and reporting them to the state,” she said. 

Even if funds are available, she said they can’t go towards reimbursing operating costs, such as gas and electricity bills. They can only be used for physical damages.

The Road and Bridge Department didn’t do a lot of snow removal or sand spreading due to the cold. Miller said. “So, we as a county weren’t out a lot of money.”

Businesses or individuals wouldn’t qualify for any assistance, she said.

The deadline to report damages to Miller is the end of the day Friday.


Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

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

• Approved a proclamation of a state of local disaster emergency due to recent cold snap.

• Approved a three-year contract with J&J Contractors of Great Bend to mow the county-owned Golden Belt and Hillcrest memorial parks at a costs of $10,570 per year. The county accepted proposals for mowing at the two parks and the contract requires they be mowed and kept trimmed to maintain a grass height no higher than three inches, with special consideration for holidays, and J&J was the only bidder. 

It is anticipated the mowing will be required from April to October. Money for the work is included in the cemetery budget for this anticipated expense, County Works Director Darren Williams said.

• Approved the annual renewal of the Active 911 subscription. 

Active 911 is a digital text messaging system that delivers alarms, maps and other critical information instantly to first responders and allows response efforts to be monitored in real time, said 911 Director Dena Popp. The texts act as a secondary, backup messaging system for the first responders and the system has been in place for six years.