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Commission nixes road closure
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In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:
• Approved a proclamation recognizing this as Severe Weather Awareness Week. The observance is a joint effort of the National Weather Service, Kansas Division of Emergency Management, Kansas Emergency Management Association and county emergency managers throughout the State of Kansas. This proclamation encourages individuals and businesses to prepare for severe weather and to participate in the Statewide Tornado Drill 1:30 p.m. today, said Amy Miller, Emergency Manager.
• Approved a bid from L&M Contractors of Great Bend to repair the bridge just north of Stone Ridge Country Club for $24,720. Clark Rusco, county engineer, said the firm provided two quotes for repairing Bridge 171 which was damaged when a vehicle collided with it last November. Option one was a partial fix, but the second option was a complete overhaul, which is what needs to happen, Rusco said. That is the option OKed by the commission.
• Approved the purchase of a replacement Road and Bridge Department pickup for $25,330 from Marmie Motors in Great Bend, which had the low bid. This is a new 4x4, four-door, three-quarter-ton Dodge truck with a gasoline engine. Bids were received from Marmie Motors, Marmie Ford, Dove Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac and Doonan GMC. The department went with gas instead of diesel because of the initial cost and the belief that the gas-fueled truck would be just as good. The vehicle to be replaced is a diesel 2001 Ford pickup with 246,290 miles, to be sold by sealed bid or at auction, said Dale Phillips, Road and Bridge director.
• Heard an update on the activities of county departments from County Administrator Richard Boeckman.

The Barton County Commission Monday morning declined to take action vacating a half-mile portion of a dirt road in the far northwestern part of the county, effectively leaving the stretch open.
“This is a little bit of an unusual situation,” said County Administrator Richard Boeckman. The road, Northwest 140 Avenue in Fairview Township, runs along the dividing line between Barton and Rush counties, and in order for the vacation to take place, commissions in both counties would have to approve the closure.
The portion in question runs from NW 190 Road north for about a half mile and is about three miles south of the Russell County line. Although it has been technically open, it has not been maintained.
Commissioners from both counties met jointly with township officials and residents Jan. 28. At that time, Boeckman said there was a consensus to vacate the road.
However, at Monday morning’s meeting, a lively discussion ensued over the merits of vacation and leaving it alone.
Karen Maier said she and her husband are one of the few area residents northwest of Galatia impacted by the decision. “We don’t see any sense in (keeping it open) because of the cost. It just doesn’t go anywhere that amounts to anything.”
County officials didn’t have an estimate as to the cost of restoring the road. It would need new sand and extensive grading to make it passable, and the expense of this work would be borne by Fairview Township since it falls under its jurisdiction.
 There are also two bridges. The larger one of the two would be the responsibility of the county to repair, but the smaller one would fall to the township as well.
Farmer Jim Dewald questioned the vacation because of the land right-of-ways that would be surrendered. In a road vacation, the title to the roadbed would return to the landowners on either side.
Fairview Township Board member Marty Becker added that a lot of the farm ground in the area had sold and the price for that ground is rising. “You just don’t know what’s going to happen” and future owners may want access to the road.
Fellow board member Jane Steinert supported the closure because she didn’t think the township had the funds to repair it. But, it looks as though the cost will be less than anticipated and she said she’s fine with keeping it open.
“I’ve always supported maintaining roads,” said commissioner Kenny Schremmer. None the less, he wanted assurances from the township officials that the road under discussion would be fixed and not allowed to deteriorate again.
 The Rush County Commission next meets March 25 and it was expected it would approve the vacation. But, Boeckman said he’d contact the county counselor in Rush County and notify him of Barton County’s action. The vacation is likely dead for now.
As for the road maintenance, Fairview Township officials will have to work out an agreement with their counterparts in Rush County to establish how keep up the road.