By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Jail showers to be updated
Placeholder Image

Replacement of historic bridge OKed


After hearing no public opposition to the plan, the Barton County Commission Monday morning approved seeking to have the historic so-called Hitschmann Cattle Underpass Bridge northeast of Claflin “de-listed” from the National Register of Historic Places. The goal is to demolish the span and replace it with a safer one that can accommodate today’s heavy farm and oil field machinery.
The action authorizes County Administrator Richard Boeckman to send a certified letter to the Kansas State Historical Society notifying the agency of the county’s intention. Boeckman said the state statute allows this if the county had determined there is no feasible alternative.
The bridge is a Works Project Administration bridge dating back to 1941 located about eight miles northeast of Claflin on NE 190 Road. It is one of eight limestone bridges in the county on the National Register.
Now, this bridge joins another double-arch bridge on the same stretch of road that was de-listed last year. Replacement of both will likely not be done until 2014.
According to County Engineer Clark Rusco, both bridges are 24 feet wide and will be replace with reinforced concrete box bridges that are 30 feet wide. The cost will be about $40,000 each.
The years have not been good to the historic structures, Rusco said. The traffic and the weather have caused them to crumble.
It would cost $9,000 to repair the bridge at issue Monday. But, in the end, it will still be too small to meet the current needs.
The other bridge would cost $90,000 to restore.
The bridges were nominated to the National Register under Criterion A for its construction under the supervision of the WPA and Criterion C for their  architectural significance as a native limestone bridges. They are included in the “Seven WPA Limestone Bridges of Barton County” thematic resources nomination.
 It is possible, however, to remove a structure from the listing. Officials must show they’ve considered all “relevant factors,” such as public safety and the availability of viable options, Boeckman said.

A nagging problem dating back to when the Barton County Detention Facility was completed in 2004 should be eliminated after action taken by the County Commission Monday morning.
The commission approved a quote from Moeder Plumbing for $24,452 to repair of the shower drainage area at the jail. Sheriff Brian Bellendir recently reported that there were various issues with the facility that needed to be addressed, include lighting, cement work, humidity control and plumbing issues. 
In reference to the plumbing issues, the drainage from the upper shower area is leaking into the shower on the ground floor below. As such, the sheriff asked commercial plumbers to submit a quote on repairs.
Bellendir said Moeder’s work will include replacing four floor drains and ceramic tile in the upper levels and replacement of metal shower stalls in the lower sections. Payment will come from the Detention Surplus Fund, which holds monies remaining after the sunset of the dedicated tax used to build the facility.
As it is, there are also security issues, the sheriff said. Inmates are using pieces of metal from the crumbling showers to fashion “shanks,” or hand-made weapons.
County Administrator Richard Boeckman said the problems plaguing the jail were recognized near the time of the facilities construction, but the firms involved had gone out of business and the county had no recourse. The work will take two to three weeks, but will not require the relocation of inmates to other facilities.
Original estimates for the project came in at over $50,000. But, Bellendir and his staff kept looking and finally received the Moeder bid.
In June of 2010, commissioners approved a $17,000 project to make repairs and improvements to the nine showers at the jail. The project provided epoxy coating to the shower walls and floors that have been leaking.
 The work was needed to deal with cracks and mold that had developed.
In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:
• Approved $20,000 in funding for Sunflower Diversified Services’ Early Childhood Intervention Program. The program provides individualized services to children ages birth to 3 with a developmental delay or disability. Sunflower’s staff serves the child in the home setting. In the 2013 Barton County Operating Budget, the program was funded for this amount and Jim Johnson, Sunflower Diversified director, was present to request the funds be awarded.
Last year, Johnson said the program served 238 children, of which about 60 percent were from Barton County. The agency serves Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Russell and Stafford counties.
The other counties also kick-in funding, he said. But many pay more that Barton County does, even though a smaller percentage of the kids from those counties.
• Approved the fiscal year 2013 Kansas Community Corrections grant application for Central Kansas Community Corrections at $435,151, which is the same amount requested last year. The Kansas Community Corrections Act provides grants to develop, implement and maintain offender programs. A Comprehensive Plan (grant application) and budgetary plan has been developed by CKCC with its Advisory Board. The plan requires review and approval of the Board of County Commissioners of the host county (Barton) prior to its submission to the Secretary of Corrections by May 1, said Amy Boxberger, CKCC director. The agency serves the 20th Judicial District which takes in Barton, Ellsworth, Rice and Stafford counties.
In the 2012 grant year, Boxberger said 73 percent of those served by the program did not enter the Kansas prison system. But, CKCC wants to improve that number, so the agency is going to look at looking at what make the successful participants successful – education, employment, housing, managing substance abuse and their attitudes. These “principles of evidence-based practices” lower recidivism rates and increase offender successful completions.
“We’ve got some good things going on,” she said. They hope to involve more partners in their efforts and step up communication.
• Named Gloria Hernandez, Great Bend, to the CKCC Advisory Board. The county recently sought applicants for the board which functions under the CKCC director and assists in setting the goals,. Utilizing the the agency’s goal is to Board membership is representative of the five Counties in the 20th Judicial System, including Barton, Ellsworth, Rice, Russell and Stafford counties, Boxberger said.