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County approves May proclamations
Employee handbook, K-4 overlook and contingency plan also on agenda
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Biking by the numbers

Here is an excerpt of comments made Monday by Dale Hogg, representing Be Well Barton County:
“So far this year, nationally, 57,645 riders taking part in the National Bike Challenge have ridden 3,722,636 miles, burning over 125 million calories, saving over $450,000 and preventing over 740,000 pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
“Closer to home, the 43 NBC bicyclists of Central Kansas riders – from Barton, Ellsworth and Russell counties – have ridden over 3,000 miles, burning 169,000 calories, saving $186 and preventing 297 pounds of carbon emissions.”

Physical and mental health were on the agenda at Monday’s Barton County Commission meeting.
The commissioners approved two proclamations, naming May as both Mental Health Awareness Month and National Bike Month. The agenda also included approving an updated Barton County Employee Handbook and memorandums of understanding related to emergency planning and the K-4 Overlook east of Hoisington.

Mental Health Awareness
Douglas McNett, executive director of The Center for Counseling and Consultation, explained the purpose of Mental Health Awareness Month includes an attempt to lessen the perceived stigma of seeking assistance for mental health conditions.
The proclamation notes that mental health is essential to everyone’s overall well-being. As all Americans experience times of difficulty and stress, it is important to practice prevention as an effective way to reduce the burden of mental health conditions.
“Mental health conditions are real and prevalent,” McNett said. “With early and effective treatment, those individuals with mental health conditions can recover and lead full, productive lives.”
McNett is the former assistant Pawnee County attorney. He became director of The Center on Feb. 1, following the retirement of Dwight Young. Before that, he also served on The Center’s board of directors.
Commission Jennifer Schartz commented that she also serves on that board.
“The Center has undergone a lot of changes in the last year – all positive,” Schartz said. “I like the direction The Center is going.”

Bike Month
The proclamation for National Bike Month came from Great Bend Tribune Managing Editor Dale Hogg, a local biking enthusiast representing Be Well Barton County.
“The bicycle is an economical, healthy, convenient and environmentally sound form of transportation and an excellent tool for recreation and enjoyment of Barton County’s scenic beauty,” Hogg said. “Throughout the month of May, the residents of Barton County and its visitors can experience the joys of bicycling through educational programs, races, commuting events, charity events, or by simply getting out and going for a ride.”
May 11-15 is Bike Week, and Friday, May 15 is Ride Your Bike to Work Day.
“I would like to acknowledge all that has been done by local governments in the support of cycling,” Hogg said. “The County Commission approved the installation of a bike lane and bike signage on West Barton County Road out to the Great Bend Hike and Bike Trail trail head, and recently it approved a series of signs on rural blacktops cautioning motorists that they must pass a cyclist by at least 3 feet.
“The City of Great Bend, too, had installed signs and bike racks, and painted sharrows.
“Be Well Barton County thanks all those involved and looks forward to a continued partnership. We also challenge everyone here to sign up for the bike challenge and discover, or rediscover, for themselves the joys of riding a bike.”

Other business
In other business, the commission:
• Approved proposed updates to the Barton County Employee Handbook. County Counselor/County Administrator Richard Boeckman described many of the 13 changes as “housekeeping,” but noted there are new policies dealing with the hiring process, shared leave and workplace violence. The county will save money by replacing binders and printed pages with online handbooks. During the revision, the county’s 180 job descriptions were also updated.
• Approved Memorandums of Understanding with Barton Community College, the City of Hoisington and Hoisington USD 431, to ensure the continuity of county operations in the event of a major disruption. County business can be moved to the college, the Hoisington City Office or the Hoisington Activity Center in an emergency. This revises the Continuity of Operations Plan adopted in 2008, when the county owned an annex in Hoisington.
• Approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kansas Division of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism in reference to the Kansas Department of Transportation’s K4 Overlook Project. This deals with grants the county and KDWPT have received for paving, sidewalk repair and a 10-foot-tall viewing tower at the scenic overlook east of Hoisington. The original grants of $60,000 for paving and $232,000 for the tower have increased to $90,000 and $289,000, respectively.
That means the local match has also increased, although some of it will come in the form of engineering done by Barton County Engineer Clark Rusco.
Commissioner Don Davis commented, “Even though it might cost us a little more money, in the long run it’s going to be a good deal for our citizens.”
• Entered into executive session for 15 minutes with County Counselor Boeckman and an outside counsel, Allen Glendenning, to discuss a matter protected by attorney-client privilege. The meeting adjourned after the executive session with no further action.