County offices close for Presidents Day
Barton County Office Buildings will be closed Monday, Feb. 17, in observance of Presidents Day. The Records Division of the Sheriff’s Office and the Health Department will also be closed.
The Landfill will close at 11 a.m. that day. Emergency services will be in normal operation.
As a result, the next regular County Commission meeting will be at 9 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 18, at the courthouse, 1400 Main St. in Great Bend.
Safety improvements are on the horizon for the intersection of NE 60 Avenue and K-4 on the east edge of Redwing following action by the Barton County Commission Monday morning. Approved were agreements with the Kansas Department of Transportation to take part in the cost-share program for the work and an engineering agreement with the engineering firm Kirkham, Michael of Ellsworth for the design.
“That intersection has been a problem for a long time,” County Engineer Barry McManaman said. The issue is large trucks turning north on the NE 60 blacktop and taking out culvert guardrails due to the tight turn.
But, last November, Barton County was approved for the Kansas Department of Transportation cost-share program to improve the intersection of NE 60 Avenue at K-4 on the east edge of the community. Now, KDOT asked that Barton County approve the project agreement, which is based on an estimated construction cost of $275,660, McManaman said.
Under the KDOT program, the state will cover 75% of the project. In this case, the agency will cover up to $206,000 with the county paying around $69,000 of the construction expenses.
The project will improve the safety of the intersection through the installation of a new box culvert about 60 feet further north from the highway, and building wider radius at the intersection to allow for better turning, he said.
After approving the KDOT agreement for intersection improvements at Redwing, commissioners OKed an agreement for engineering services with Kirkham, Michael and Associates of Ellsworth. Under the $40,000 design agreement, the firm will provide preliminary surveying, design and bid letting services in accordance with KDOT requirements, McManaman said.
In addition to its 25% share of the construction costs, the county is responsible for 100% of the design cost. In addition, the county will be paying to have any utilities moved or purchasing any additional right-of-way needed to accommodate the expansion.
The county will have to front the entire cost from its Special Bridge Fund and then be reimbursed the 75% by the state.
“The Redwing project has been on our radar for a lot of years,” Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. Now, it appears it was wise to wait so the county can get some help with the work.
“It’s a vert cost-effective project for us,” McManaman said. “I think it will work out really well.”
Although there is no exact time line, McManaman said bids probably be let until late this year or the first of next year.
There were nearly 100 applications in the first round of the new highly competitive KDOT plan. In the end, 22 projects were selected, totalling nearly $74 million in state, local, federal and private investment in transportation improvements statewide.
Two of three area projects submitted made the cut. These were the Redwing improvements and a City of Great Bend project totalling $3.3 million to resurface most of 10th Street and rework the historic Sunflower Rod and Custom Association dragstrip.
A third, a joint $865,000 project between the county and the city for the resurfacing of SW 40 Avenue between U.S. 56 and West Barton County Road, also known as Airport Road, was not included.
The funding source
The state funds are coming from a one-time $50 million transfer from the State General Fund to the State Highway Fund approved by the The Kansas Legislature in 2018. The state is trying to catch up on projects that were underfunded.
This allowed the use of the funding on transportation projects, but only if cities and counties are willing to offer a match.
Candidate projects needed to include investments that provide transportation benefits and are not eligible for other KDOT programs. The projects received additional consideration if they support economic growth, aid in the retention or recruitment of business, or add value to a KDOT project.
The cost-share program provides financial assistance to local entities for construction projects that improve safety, leverage state funds to increase total transportation investment, and help both rural and urban areas of the state improve the transportation system.
The Kansas Joint Legislative Transportation Vision Task Force recommended this one-time infusion into the transportation budget. This is the same group, formed by the Legislature in 2018, that supported the continuation of the Northwest Passage project between Nickerson and Sterling.
Barton County Commission meeting at a glance
Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:
• Heard a complaint from Betty Filbert who lives in the Barton Hills area. She was complaining about how South Homestead Township is maintaining the roads in her neighborhood.
Commissioners directed County Administrator Phil Hathcock to contact township officials to check on the situation.
Filbert has come before the commission on other occasions with concerns about Barton Hill road maintenance.
• Approved the inventory of county property.
According to state statutes, each county officer and department head must make an inventory of the personal property owned by the county and located in their respective offices. The inventory, which is taken in December, is filed with the county clerk on or before Dec. 31. The inventory doesn’t include books, records, files, stationery, writing materials and blank legal papers.
The information is presented to the County Commission during February. Per county resolution, the mandated duties have been assigned to the Information Technology Department. IT Director John Debes, Director, and equipment technician Chris Saenz reported.
• Approved a cost-share agreement with the Kansas Department of Transportation for improvements at the intersection of NE 60 Avenue and K-4 at Redwing.
• Approved an engineering agreement with the engineering firm Kirkham, Michael of Ellsworth to design the Redwing project.
• Named Krista Smith to the Barton County Health Department Advisory Committee. After expanding the committee earlier this year, the county solicited for applicants for the additional uncompensated positions, Health Director Shelly Schneider said.
This fill the committee ninth and final opening. The uncompensated term expires Dec. 31, 2121.
• Approved the annual software agreement with Computer Information Concepts Inc. at a cost of $49,775, which is up about $2,000 from last year.
In 2013, the county purchased a commercial software package from CIC. The software includes tax administration, budgetary/fund accounting, indexing/imaging, payroll/personnel and time/attendance.
The agreement details responsibilities for the software and hardware, including response time, County Administrator Phil Hathcock said.
“This is the backbone software for the county,” he said, adding it was important it be renewed. The company doesn’t offer multi-year contracts that could reduce the yearly expense.