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County Counselor’s contract renewed
Test drilling approved for proposed sandpit
Barton County Counselor Patrick Hoffman listens to the Barton County Commissioners discuss his contract for providing legal services, which was renewed for another year. - photo by photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

The Barton County Commission voted Tuesday to extend the contract with attorney Patrick Hoffman for another year, approving the $5,500 per month fee he requested.

Currently, Hoffman receives $4,000 per month. Commission Chairman Jim Daily said he was willing to pay even more – $6,000 a month. Although Commissioner Barb Esfeld said she would agree to that, the original motion that included the $5,500 fee was approved.

Hoffman is with the law firm Sherman, Hoffman and Hoffman in Ellsworth and serves as the county council. The duties are prescribed by Kansas law and specifically exclude the duties of County Attorney, which is an elected position.

Each of the commissioners expressed satisfaction with Hoffman’s work. Commissioner Kirby Krier said he was “an integral part” in the deal where the county plans to buy 53 acres of land south of Ellinwood for a sandpit.

In suggesting an even higher retainer for Hoffman, Daily said he has worked with many professionals over the years. “No one has been as efficient or eager to work as Patrick.”

Commissioner Jennifer Schartz had also praised Hoffman but said the $5,500 is the amount he requested.

“I’m perfectly happy with the number I submitted,” Hoffman said. “This is the most nice things people have probably said about an attorney at one time.”

Sandpit deal

As for the 53-acre land purchase, the commission approved an agreement to have engineering consulting firm Terracon drill in four locations to test the subsurface. The cost of the agreement is $9,840.

The Commission entered into a purchase agreement on Nov. 9 to buy the land directly north of the existing Ellinwood sandpit location. One of the stipulations for the finalization of the purchase is that the county has the right to confirm the existence of a suitable supply of sand, Interim County Administrator/County Engineer Barry McManaman said.  

A request for proposals for the investigation of sand deposits on the parcel was posted and proposals were due by Nov. 22 but no proposals were received by the deadline. Terracon submitted an electronic proposal on Nov. 24 and McManaman recommended approval. They will drill boreholes at four locations to a depth of approximately 55 feet “or until they hit shale or something hard,” he said.


Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

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

• Tabled action on next year’s county risk management insurance. After hearing from representatives of the Kansas County Association Multiline Pool (KCAM) based in Topeka, and EMC Insurance Company of Des Moines, Iowa (represented locally by Allied Insurance’s Cassidy Smith), the commissioners said they need more information and will make a determination next week.

• Named Commissioner Barb Esfeld as Kansas Association of Counties special election voting delegate. The KAC will hold an online election on Jan. 5 to consider allowing the Kansas County Human Resource Association to be admitted to the KAC as an affiliate member.

• Approved a Centers for Disease and Control Drug-Free Community Grant bid and subaward agreement.

Barton County seeks data analysis, evaluation and reporting services for the grant. Juvenile Services Director Marissa Woodmansee said Greeenbush won the $12,000 bid to provide the data analysis.

• Approved a Central Kansas Community Corrections Improving Reentry for Adults with Substance Use Disorders Program bid and subaward grant agreement.

Similar to the previous item, Central Kansas Community Corrections Director Amy Boxberger said Greenbush won the $38,601 bid to provide the analysis from October 2020 through 2023.

• Approved the replacement of a generator for the Health Department.

The Barton County Health Department operates a Kohler backup generator to ensure that essential equipment and vaccination storage remains operational in the event of a power loss. The old generator is mechanically failing and has become unreliable. The Kohler generator will be purchased from P&S for $7,874.

• Approved the repair of a vehicle for the Road and Bridge Department.

Engine coolant was leaking internally which caused damage to a 2012 Ford F350 Super Duty pickup operated by the Road and Bridge Department. Marmie Ford submitted a $7,735.10 estimate to repair the truck, County Works Director Darren Williams said. The commission authorized the work, not to exceed $9,000.

• Approved an agreement with the Kansas Department of Transportation for bridge inspections.

The Barton County Engineer’s Office will do inspection work for the improvement projects at the intersection of North Washington Avenue and NW 30 Road and on NW 50 Road east of NW 10 Avenue, Interim County Administrator/County Engineer Barry McManaman said. He submitted an estimate of inspection costs to the KDOT in the amount of $62,410.   

Under the agreement, KDOT will reimburse the county for 90% of expenses up to $55,861.97.  

In addition, the commission OKed the payment of up to $6,548 for concrete testing to be done by the Ellsworth engineering firm Kirkham-Michael. The Kirkham Michael expense is included in the estimate of costs.

McManaman said the project will start sometime after the first of the year.

• Approved a proposal from Terracon, an engineering consulting firm out of Olathe, for subsurface exploration and laboratory testing services at lands south of Ellinwood where the county plans to buy a sandpit. The cost of the agreement was $9,840.

• Ratified the title transfer of a 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer to Progressive Insurance Company.

Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller signed and transferred title of the vehicle after it was declared a total loss following an October 19, 2021, crash. Barton County is now able to receive the $7,121 settlement offer from Progressive Insurance, McManaman said.

The crash occurred when another driver ran into a county vehicle on Main Street in Great Bend. Two county employees were in the totaled vehicle and they were not injured, Esfeld said.

• Approved a service agreement for Patrick Hoffman to serve as county counselor for $5,500 per month.