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County crews busy replacing signs, for good reasons and bad
new deh vandalized sign main pic
A Barton County Road and Bridge Department crew replaces a sign that was vandalized. The department has replaced 14 vandalized signs in the past couple weeks. - photo by PHOTO COURTESY BARTON COUNTY ROAD AND BRIDGE

Barton County Road and Bridge Department Director Dale Phillips’ report to the County Commission Monday morning about sign issues was part of County Administrator Richard Boeckman’s biweekly departmental update. Other high points included:
Road and Bridge
• Completed roadway and culvert work in cooperation with South Homestead Township on the Lake Barton Road at NW 60 Road.
• Built signs and installed specialty signs as requested for County offices and storage areas.
• Bridge work repairing flood damaged areas was completed on NW 230 Road in the northwest corner of the County.
• Culvert inventories were completed and Federal Emergency Management Agency projects categorized and prioritized for future work completions. Staff worked with FEMA officials on scheduled projects.
• Mowing of right of way continued in the north and west portion of the county. Tall grass and weeds continue to be mowed and the right of way cleaned up to prevent possible snow drifting this winter.
• Sand and salt supplies were replenished.
• Training continued on equipment use, snow removal, service work, signage, preventative maintenance checks, various in house inventory checks and storage of supplies.
Noxious Weed
• Spraying of right of way continued as weather permitted. Currently pre-emergent herbicide is being applied to reduce weed growth and mowing needs for the 2014 season.
 County Appraiser Barb Konrade
Barton County has 17,613 parcels of real estate. During 2013, a total of 4,233 parcels were reviewed. The review was completed on parcels that had building permits, had sold or were in the County’s mandated 17 percent review.
The Barton County Appraiser’s Office is in the process of establishing values for all real estate in the county. Values will be mailed out between March 1 and April 1. Personal property renditions were mailed out and are due back March 15 and April 1 for oil and gas renditions.
Information Technology Director John Debes
• Phone systems – Most issues have been resolved, training continues.
• Upgrades – IT is in the process of upgrading PC’s in several offices, including the County Clerk’s Office, County Engineer and Road and Bridge.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.
This is a reoccuring theme for the Barton County Road and Bridge Department of late.
First, Director Dale Phillips reported to the County Commission Monday morning that his crews have repaired 14 vandalized road signs in the past couple of weeks. “Most of the signs were intentionally ran over by some type of vehicle.”
Phillips said the incidents are scattered throughout the county. The department handles between seven and eight incidents each week where signs have been run over, yanked out of the ground or shot.
 With the cost of the sign, the post and labor, this is an expensive problem. Each replacement comes with a $200-some pricetag.
 In another sign-related matter, Phillips reported that High Risk Rural Road sign grant work was started north of Pawnee Rock. When completed in the next four weeks, approximately 950 signs will be replaced and bridge markers will be updated.
 The idea behind the federally funding High Risk Rural Roads program is to stop accidents before they happen. Projects could include extending reinforced concrete box culverts, guardrails, earthwork and signage.
County Engineer Clark Rusco had applied for the grant funds which are funneled through the Kansas Department of Transportation to pay for upgrades on four major county corridors.
 The maximum amount of the grant is $711,000. Under the agreement, the county will be responsible for 10 percent of the project. In addition, the County will be reimbursed for construction engineering costs.
The county has federal funds left over from last year in an account at KDOT which can be used to cover the 10 percent match.
The cost of the signs will be about $31,500. In order to meet new federal standards, the new signs will be more reflective and, thus, more visible.
Routes included are: NW 50 Road from NW 30 Avenue to North Washington Avenue (near the KSNC television tower); NE 140 Road from NE 60 Avenue to NE 130 Avenue (near Odin); NW and NE 190 Road from NW 140 Avenue to NE 90 Avenue (in the Galatia-Beaver area); and SW 110 Avenue from West Barton County Road to SW 70 Road (near Pawnee Rock). 
Federal traffic safety studies have noted that over half of all crashes occur because of the driver leaving the road and half of all crashes period occur on rural rods. The idea is to eliminate as many potential dangers as possible.
Based on these reports, Barton County selected the above routes.
Barton County is sort of a test case, and is among the first counties to utilize the program.