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Commission honors long-time editor
New road, landfill equipment purchased
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• Barton County business offices, the Health Department and the Sheriff’s Office Records Division will close at noon, Friday for Easter.  The Barton County Landfill will close at 11 a.m. to the public. Emergency services will be in normal operation.
• The commission will meet as the Board of County Canvassers at 8:30 a.m. Monday in the Office of the County Clerk to canvass ballots from the city elections.  The commission’s agenda meeting will begin at 9 a.m. or immediately following the close of the canvass. As a side note, County Clerk Donna Zimmerman said this marks the first election where photo identification is required.

The Barton County Commission meeting Monday morning started under a pall as commissioners remembered veteran Great Bend Tribune City Editor Chuck Smith who covered their meetings for years. Smith died last Thursday of a heart attack at the age of 56.
“It’s a rather somber day,” said commission Chairman Homer Kruckenberg. “We’re missing a long-time fixture.”
Smith’s eldest son Andy was asked to give the opening prayer for the meeting since Smith had served as the unofficial chaplain for the commission. “Unfortunately, the whole community has been rocked in one way or another,” he said.
He thanked everyone for their support and praised the efforts of local leaders “who make this a place to be proud of.”
The commission also adopted a resolution proclaiming Monday Chuck Smith Day. “There are 4 billion people on the planet, and not one of them was like Chuck Smith,” said commissioner Jennifer Schartz in introducing the resolution.
She said she’d worked with Smith at the Tribune for 23 years. “I not only called him a colleague, but I have the privilege of calling him a friend. He was the quintessential nice guy.”

County business
• The commission voted to replace two 2006 Caterpillar loaders used by the Road and Bridge Department. According to department Director Dale Phillips, the old loaders were bought from Foley Tractor in Great Bend and with an arrangement for a $125,000 buy-back each after six years.
This $250,000 will go towards the purchase of two John Deere loaders from Murphy Tractor, also of Great Bend. With the credit, the cost to the county will be $181,790. There is another six-year buy-back option.
Phillips said they received bids from four vendors. They also looked at keeping the old loaders longer instead of trading, but determined this was the least expensive alternative when they looked at the maintenance.
In another purchase, the commission approved the buying of a used trash roll-off truck for the Barton County Landfill for $75,000. The current truck is a 1982 International  bought in 1987, but “due to extensive mechanical problems” it needs to be replaced, said landfill Director Mark Witt.
Witt said they looked around the area and the state and found only used option. “These aren’t the kind of trucks you see sitting on a used truck lot.”
Through Robert’s Truck Center in Salina, Witt located a 2003 Kennworth in Phillipsburg, Mo. It has 200,000 miles, and is out of warranty, but is very sound, Witt said. He went to see the truck and said the dealership agreed to fix any problems it might have.
Doonan’s Peterbilt in Great Bend had a new, 2013 Peterbilt for $134,000. But, since the landfill only makes occasional trips over the road to haul recycling materials and most of the use would be within the landfill itself, a used truck was sufficient.
It can be serviced locally and should last 10-15 years.
• The annual tax sale, the commission learned, is doing what it is intended to do, said County Administrator Richard Boeckman. “Taxpayers are realizing there is no advantage in not paying their taxes.”
Twenty years ago, there were as many as 500 parcels of land up for sale during the auction because of delinquent taxes, he said. That number has decreased to 91 this year.
According to Boeckman, the tax sale notice looks like a foreclosure action. Once one is received the property owners can come in and pay up, which is known as redemption. He expects there to be only five to 10 tracts of land that actually get sold.
“It’s getting taxes paid,” he said. “It makes sure everyone is doing their share.”
• In other action, the commission approved a resolution making April Fair Housing Month. Boeckman said the commission is asked to do this to support fair housing practices in Barton County.