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Davis takes over commission gavel
new deh county commission new chairman pic
Barton County Commissioner Don Davis, center, takes his seat as chairman of the commission Monday morning. Flanked by commissioners Homer Kruckenberg and Alicia Straub, he replaced Commissioner Kenny Schremmer as chairman. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

 County observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Barton County Office Buildings will be closed Monday, Jan. 18, for Martin Luther King Day. The Records Division of the Sheriff’s Office and the Health Department will also be closed. The Landfill will only be open from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. that day. Emergency services will be in normal operation.

This also means the next regular County Commission meeting will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19,instead of Monday.  

 Kenny Schremmer stepped down as chairman of the Barton County Commission and Don Davis took over at the head of the table during the annual changing of the guard Monday morning. Davis was elected chairman and Schremmer chairman pro-tem.

“I hope I can do half the job you did,” Davis said to his predecessor as he handled the gavel for the first time.

“It’s time for something new,” Schremmer said. He wasn’t sure he wanted any leadership role, but thought he might be able to help Davis as he settles into his new position.

However, Commissioner Homer Kruckenberg said he contemplated nominated Alicia Straub for the top post. “You’ve done a good job.”

He said she’s been willing to vote here conscious on such issues as raising the county’s mill levy, taking a stand against it. “You add a new verve and a new vision. I appreciate that.”

Schremmer seconded the positive influence of Straub. “Everybody has a voice.”

That is why, Schremmer said he supported the idea of going from a panel of three commissioners to five. This makes it less likely that one member can hold sway.

In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:

• Named the Great Bend Tribune the official county newspaper. The newspaper selected must meet the qualifications as prescribed by state statute as being able to best reach the citizens of Barton County.  

• Approved the installation of lights at U.S. 56/Railroad Avenue and U.S. 281/SE 50 Road. At the request of the commission, County Engineer Barry McManaman reviewed options for the installation of overhead lighting at the two intersections to make them brighter and improve safety. Midwest Energy can install and maintain the lighting, with the county being responsible for the monthly charge of approximately $70 for both lights. The cost will be assigned to the Road and Bridge Department, McManaman said. 

• Approved the replacement of failing groundwater monitoring wells at the Barton County Landfill. The landfill is required to obtain and analyze samples from 14 groundwater monitoring wells biannually to help protect the environment and see if any contamination is seeping out of the facility. This procedure is performed by SCS Aquaterra utilizing low-flow pumps to collect representative samples of the groundwater around the perimeter of the landfill property, said Solid Waste Director Phil Hathcock.

The replacement has been included in the 2016 budget. SCS Aquaterra install 14 new pumps and controller for $20,150. It was noted that, due to labor and travel costs, it was cheaper to replace all the wells at one time rather than stagger the replacement.

The wells were installed in 1997 and Hathcock said 18 years is a good life span for them.

• Heard an overview of a comprehensive report from county department heads outlining both 2015 accomplishments and 2016 goals. The 12-page report was designed to make citizens aware of the diversity of the county’s functions, County Administrator Richard Boeckman said.  

• Adopted resolutions exempting the county from the generally accepted accounting principals (GAAP) for 2015 and 2016. This allows the county to operate on a cash basis which is in line with how the county handles its budget and how the state government operates, Boeckman said.

This is done every year and is a standard practice for municipal governments, he said.