County seeks disaster declaration due to recent storms
BY DALE HOGG
The Barton County Commission Monday morning approved a declaration of a state of local disaster emergency due to thunderstorms, heavy rain and flash flooding that occurred recently. This will be forwarded to the Kansas Division of Emergency Management.
“This has helped relieve the drought, but it has caused other problems,” said Emergency Management Director Amy Miller. There are still township roads covered in water as well as other damage which were seen during tours of the county.
Miller said Barton County was included in the second round of statewide disaster declarations based on weather stretching from May 4 through the present. In an effort to involve state officials, the commission was asked to sign a disaster declaration.
Whether Barton County gets any disaster funds or not, this declaration will factor into the decision at the federal level to declare a national disaster emergency for the region, Miller said. This may help other counties get funding.
As a second step in this process, Miller said there will be a preliminary damage assessment meeting at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in the first floor conference room at the Barton County Courthouse in Great Bend. Farmers and township officials are urged to call her office to report damages or attend the meeting.
The Emergency Management Office can be reached at 620-793-1919.
It was a case of being in the right place at the right time.
On March 3, Melissa Hagerman of the Barton County Health Department noticed a man run across the street in front of her office, get into his car and slump at the steering wheel. She immediately ran outside, flagged down a Great Bend police officer who helped her get the man out of the car and onto the ground.
Fellow Health Department employee Krysten Watkins called for help and together, the performed cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.
For their efforts, the two were honored as the county employees of the quarter during the County Commission meeting Monday morning. The awards are given based on Barton County Employee Relations Committee recommendations.
“They worked together as a team to save a man’s life,” said ERC President Bj Wooding. “That person is alive because of them.”
“That guy could not have been in a better spot,” said Commissioner Jennifer Schartz. “I congratulate you on your efforts.”
Schartz said the incident hit close to home for her. It was about a year ago that her husband collapsed at the gym and was assisted by bystanders.
This was the first recognition of 2015. Honorees are picked based on nominations from peers.
In other business Monday morning, the County Commission:
• Voted not to vacate a portion of NE 160 Road in Cheyenne Township. The portion of the road is more fully described as Road 131, South 25 feet in the Southwest Quarter of Section 6, Township 17S, Range 12W, and the North 25 feet in the Northwest Quarter of Section 7, Township 17S, Range 12W in Cheyenne Township.
The commission viewed the site of the proposed vacation on June 8 following a public notice period.
At Monday’s meeting, Cheyenne Township official Frank Debes said the hilly stretch in question was minimally maintained. A family had requested it be vacated due to vandalism, but the township board voted against the idea since there are still farmers who use it.
Historically, Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said the commission has sided with the wishes of the township. Plus, “once we’ve closed it, it will never be reopened.”
Commissioners said they’ve had calls from area residents wanting the road left open.
• Approved a bid from Venture Corporation of Great Bend for asphalt for overlay project at a cost of no more than $399,396. County Engineer Clark Rusco said approximately 860 tons of asphalt is needed for Hirsch Street in Ellinwood (US 56 Highway north to Seventh Street) and approximately 3,952 tons of asphalt for NE 30 Road (NE Avenue to K-156). Venture Corporation presented the only bid at $83 per ton. Rusco noted that the project cost will be reimbursed through the Federal Funds Exchange Program.
County Engineer Clark Rusco said Venture plans to start the work Sept. 8 and be done by Sept. 15.