Last Monday, Barton County Engineer Barry McManaman attended a meet-and-greet at the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce for the new Kansas Secretary of Transportation Julie Lorenz, and discussed county transportation needs with her during the bus tour afterwards.
“Overall I was very impressed with her remarks,” McManaman said. She not only addressed state and regional projects, but those impacting just Barton County as well.
Secretary Lorenz handed some information on the Kansas Department of Transportation’s past budget problems and how the condition of the State highway system has been affected by budget shortfalls that were caused by the legislature taking highway money for other uses. KDOT’s budget was enhanced by being allowed to retain $160 million in tax revenue that otherwise may have been taken, and she provided information on how the State plans to use that money to construct several projects that were previously delayed, as well as spending more money on highway preservation work such as overlays.
She also provided information on what the Joint Legislative Task Force determined after hosting a series of statewide forums. One of these forums included talk of the much-wanted Northwest Passage, a new diagonal route from Wichita to Hays through Great Bend.
“I thought her comments provided a lot of hope that KDOT is trying very hard by working with the legislature to solve funding issues and by working internally to get KDOT staffing problems turned around by actively recruiting employees to fill many of the positions that they have had trouble keeping filled,” he said.
Lorenz also went over some enhancements that are being made with additional funding for safety, transit, bike and pedestrian programs, city connecting link maintenance projects, and local bridge replacement funding that Barton County may be able to take advantage of. “I visited with Julie about my interests in seeing a continuation of State funding for off-system bridge replacements and economic development projects that could help the County stay on top of resurfacing needs on our County blacktop roads.”
He though she was also impressed with the transload facility when they toured it.
Mention of Lorenz’s visit was part of a departmental update presented to the Barton County Commission meeting Monday morning by County Administrator Phil Hathcock. Other highlights included:
• Did drainage survey work and met with officials from The Nature Conservancy, South Homestead Township, and the Barton County Road and Bridge Department to discuss possible drainage and roadway work in the township.
• Developing a database for the Wetlands and Wildlife National Scenic Byway signs.
• Working on project agreements for the two concrete drainage boxes to be constructed west of Pawnee Rock.
• Attended the meeting at Barton Community College concerning the possible solar farm development.
County Works Director Darren Williams
Road and Bridge Department
• Crews are strip patching on NW 150 Road. They placed a one-inch overlay from NW 120 Avenue to NW 140 Avenue. Also patching on NE 50 Road and east of Odin.
• Installed a 60-inch culvert for Beaver Township.
• Cleaned out under structures for the Federal Emergency Management Agency project.
• Finished the new equipment shed at the Ellinwood sand pit.
• Attended the South Central Kansas Association of Commissioners and Engineers meeting held in Kingman with the county engineer. The program included an update on KDOT projects and funding.
• Installed a directory for the Golden Belt Veterans Memorial project. Also cleaning up around both parks and began mowing.
Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller
On April 29, the Barton County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), sponsored by Barton County Emergency Management, held its second meeting of 2019. The Committee heard a presentation from Luke Fall, Operations Leader, Southern Star Pipeline, concerning pipeline safety and response, and learned about the update of the South Kansas, Multi-Hazard, Multi-Jurisdictional Mitigation Plan. A kickoff meeting for the mitigation plan update will be held May 23, 1:00 p.m., at the Pawnee County Courthouse.
Miller reviewed activities from Severe Weather Awareness Week, March 4-8, and provided a list of companies filing Tier II reports with the Barton County LEPC.
In other business, committee members heard updates on training opportunities and reports from members on department/agency activities.
Juvenile Services Director Marissa Woodmansee
• Multidisciplinary team meeting in Ellsworth, Great Bend and Russell
• Winfield Juvenile Services office to observe their parenting program
• Met with County Commissioners from counties within the judicial district regarding juvenile services grant funding
• Juvenile Intake and Assessment staff completed 61 intakes since March 25.
• Juvenile Intensive Supervised Probation and Case Management numbers is currently supervising 34 youth from the 20th Judicial District.
• Truancy Diversion for youth who have truancy issues currently provides services 23 youth from the district.
• Immediate Intervention has 24 youth currently participating in the program.
• Staff provides support for the elementary schools throughout the district for the All-Stars classes being provided to sixth grade students and one middle school class from the Central Plains school district.
• Evidence-based Classes from The Change Company are being taught throughout the judicial district and there are currently six youth participating.
• Plans are moving forward for the Parent Project.