By JIM MISUNAS
LARNED — The Pawnee County commissioners reconvened at 1 p.m. July 20 for a special meeting.
Commissioners Donna Pelton, Kathy Bowman and Gary Caplinger were present. The background minutes are provided by Ruth Searight, Pawnee County clerk.
Pawnee County Commission Chair Gary Caplinger, called for a special meeting of the board, to discuss the Legislative Interim Committee Study of Larned State Hospital and Osawatomie State Hospital.
The next meeting is scheduled at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Pawnee County Courthouse.
On June 8, officials at the Kansas Department of Corrections proposed it would start a 12-month downsizing and eventual closure of the Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility, which employs 140 people.
The interim study committee was requested by Se. Mitch Holmes, 33rd District; and Pawnee County Attorney John Settle on behlaf of the Pawnee County commissioners.
Via telephone were Senator Mitch Holmes and Steve Kearney, Kearney & Associates, Pawnee County lobbyist.
Kearney reviewed points for presentation to the interim study committee responsible for four days of meetings that feature on-site visits to Larned State Hospital and Osawatomie State Hospital. He believes the interim committee would meet in September with the legislative report prepared by Dec. 1 for presentation to legislators.
He suggested that staffing issues have posed a continual perception that Larned State Hospital facilities are understaffed, partially due to its locations away from Sedgwick and Johnson counties.
“The biggest problem we hear is there is too small a labor pool to staff the facilities,” Kearney said. “We can’t get enough employees. Who can, with hard numbers, substantiate and rebut that part of any argument by the administration?”
Settle suggested that hard-working and local employees have always been employed at the LSH facilities.
“It’s a leadership problem,” Settle said. “The staff that has been there have left because of leadership policies. That’s something the leadership committee needs to hear.”
Kearney believes LSH features good employees, who are stressed about the working environment.
“It’s the circumstances and working environment that is so terrible that they’d rather not work there,” Kearney said. “It’s a danergous environment where they work double shifts. We need to testify to that.”
Study committee members include Sen. Jim Denning, R-Overland Park; Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker; Rep. J.R. Claeys, R-Salina; Rep. Pete DeGraaf, R-Mulvane; Rep. Charles Macheers, R-Shawnee; Sen. Holmes, R-St. John; and Rep. Jan Pauls, R-Hutchinson.
In attendance were John Settle, Pawnee County attorney, Rep. John Ewy, Larry Salmans, Leonard Mastroni, Phil Martin, attorney; Joan Martin, Brenda Hagerman, attorney; Kevin Salzman, attorney; Scott King, Pawnee County sheriff; William Nusser, Larned mayor; Nancy Wilson, Rozel mayor; Mike Gilmore, Tiller & Toiler; Jim Misunas, Great Bend Tribune; Bethany Black, Kathy Weaver, Rita Kurtz, Buddy Tabler, Ben Ramsey and Kim Barnes.
Points reviewed included:
• A discussion regarding staff turnover leading to employee dissatifaction, in part due to administrative change at LSH and the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services, which supervises the state’s mental health and social services programs.
The group discussed plans, activities and possible options for assisting the Legislative Interim Committee Study at Larned State Hospital.
They discussed who would be on the interim committee; Employees and how Many FTE are actually need at LSH; Forensic Unit; Health & Welfare Committee; number of needed psychologists; SB367; KDADS; State of Kansas shifting burden to Pawnee County; Settle will see Sec. Tim Keck, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services; and Joe Norwood, secretary for the Department of Corrections Friday.
• Commissioners signed and approved Raymond Bauer Agency, Inc., Bond, Policy No. BD102953, with Farmers Alliance Mutual Ins. Co., Effective: 7-11-2016 Expiration Date: 10-10-2017.
• Commissioners approved Edward Jones Flyer for payroll, regarding School Supplies Donations.
• Commissioners visited about a candidate for PVCH Administrator yesterday.
• Commissioners discussed have a phone connection installed in the first floor lounge.
1:55 p.m. —The meeting was adjourned. The next meeting was scheduled at 9 a.m. Aug. 1.