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Program aims to clean up county
new deh county commission pic
Homer Kruckenberg, left, is sworn in for another term on the Barton County Commission Tuesday morning by District Judge Steve Johnson. Kruckenberg was unable to attend the commissions reorganizing meeting last Monday. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Dale Phillips wants to make Barton County a cleaner place. The County Commission agreed, approving Tuesday morning his plan to establish a county-wide Adopt-a-Highway program.
Modeled after the state program, the Road and Bridge Department director proposed to the county commission Tuesday that the county create its own. To keep roadways litter free, the voluntary program is designed for non-profit organizations. 
“We’ve had several requests in the past,” Phillips said. The most recent was from the Seventh Day Adventist Church members who want to clean up the stretch of West Barton County Road that runs in front of their building.
According to Phillips’ proposal, approved groups would assume responsibility for an assigned two-mile section of highway and agree to remove litter and trash a minimum of three times a year for a two-year period. The would also have to wear reflective vests (provided by the county) and sign a liability waiver.
In turn, his department would install “Adopt a Highway” signs at each end of road involved with the name of the organization that is doing the work. These would cost about $300 for both.
Under the state program, the Kansas Department of Transportation provides blue trash bags for clean-up efforts. The department also picks up the bags filled with trash.
At the county level, the groups may provide their own bags and service. The county may step in and offer them as well.
Phillips said adults with the organizations would be given some instruction on safety (traffic and what to do with potentially hazardous items) and will be expected to relay that information to youth who may be involved.
“I think this is a really nice idea,” commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. Others on the commission said they hope to see this program grow.
 In other business, the commission:
• Approved hiring First American Title of Great Bend to handle the abstracting services for the 2013 tax sale. Since there are no other abstract companies in Barton County, Boeckman contacted First American about the work. The firm was willing to provide the needed services at $65 per parcel, a price unchanged for four years. 
• Awarded audit bids for  the 2012-2014 calendar years to Adams, Brown, Beran and Ball of Great Bend. The total was to consist of a separate bid for each of the three years, as well as any additional fees for other specialized services, said county Financial Officer Jessica Wilson. The cost for 2012 was just over $3,300, up 3 percent from 2011. The fee goes up 3 percent for 2013 and again for 2014.  If grants are received by the county, these may require a separate audit, and ABBB will handle that as well for an additional charge. Wilson said her office mailed nine letters to potential vendors, received five responses and the one bid from ABBB.  
• Heard concerns from Tom Komarek with the Ellinwood Archery Club about people discharging firearms along the Arkansas River near their archery range south of Ellinwood. He mentioned an incident this past weekend in which a water jug had been shot at their site.
The issue involves county property, private property and the state-controlled river bed, so there are several jurisdictional twists. The status of the abandoned Arkansas River bridge south of the town and whether or not it has been vacated is also under consideration.
The matter will be brought up during a study session Feb. 4, with a discussion including Komarek, Phillips, Sheriff Brian Bellendir and County Administrator Richard Boeckman.
• Heard a complaint from Dilancy Tracy of Great Bend about her car title being lost by the Treasurer’s Office. She expressed frustration the department misplacing her title which resulted in nearly a year of run-around between the county, a dealership in Salina and the state.
Treasurer Kevin Wondra said such instances are rare and that his office is taking steps to see that similar problems don’t occur in the future.
• Heard an update from Boeckman on the activities of various county departments.