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Speed limits slowed at N. Washington, 30 Rd
Family of crash victim seeks 4-way stop
new deh county commission intersection pic web
The Barton County Commission approved Monday morning lowering the speed limits at the intersection of North Washington and 30 Road north of Great Bend. - photo by Tribune file photo

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:

• Approved renewing the county’s annual anti-ransomware software. To better protect the county from computer hackers, ransomware attacks, malware threats and virus attacks, Information Technology Director John Debes said the county needed renew and upgrade the Malwarebytes software contract at a cost of $8,645 for three years, a total that saves $3,000 compared to a year-to-year approval.

Unfortunately, there are new and costly challenges facing entities now with these virtual threats, commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz said. “This is a necessary cost of doing business.”

• Approved a resolution reducing the speed on portions of North Washington and 30 Road near their intersection north of Great Bend. This comes following a fatal crash there in April. 

• Approved a proclamation marking May as Older Americans Month. Every May, the Administration on Aging, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, leads the Nation’s observance of Older Americans Month. The 2018 theme, Engage at Every Age, emphasizes that one is never too old to take part in activities that can enrich one’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. It also celebrates the many ways in which older adults make a difference in communities, said Trella Berscheidt, one of the county’s appointees to the Southwest Kansas Area Agency on Aging board.

• Approved the Kansas Department of Transportation agreement for the 2019 High Risk Rural Roads signing contract. Barton County was awarded KDOT HRRR funds to upgrade signing and analyze no passing zones on approximately 71 miles of county blacktops last fall, County Engineer Barry McManaman said. KDOT will pay for 100 percent of the costs for design, construction, and inspection of the project. 

A three-party agreement between KDOT, Barton County, and Kirkham Michael was approved last fall for the design work. KDOT asked that the county approve an agreement allowing for the project to proceed through construction. 

KDOT will handle the bid letting and administer the project, with construction work done by a contractor. The contract letting date is tentatively set for September 2019. The Engineer’s Office will do the inspection work and KDOT will reimburse labor and equipment costs.  

• Approved the contract for the 2018 hot mix asphalt overlay project to Venture Corporation of Great Bend for $288,968. County Engineer Barry McManaman accepted bids until May 4 for the work which includes 3,112 tons asphalt to be placed on East Barton County Road from the Y west of Ellinwood to Hirsh Street at the north edge of Ellinwood. The work should be done in September. 

Venture submitted the only bid. 

• Approved replacing an air conditioning unit that cools the second floor of the Barton County Sheriff’s Office. Moeder Plumbing is handling the job at a cost of $3,277. Sheriff Brian Bellendir said the 25-year-old unit went out last Wednesday afternoon and should be replaced by this Wednesday.

This marks the second A/C unit in a county building to go out in the past two weeks, the last being in the Court Services Building, County Administrator Phil Hathcock said. 

He said there are several aging units that may suffer the safe fate. “We’re going to see a lot more of this.”

 The Barton County Commission slowed things down Monday morning as it established a speed Limit of 45 miles per hour on portions of North Washington Avenue north of 30 Road, as well as on 30 Road at an intersection that was the scene of a crash that killed 18-year-old Shealee A. Stover on April 17.

Under the resolution, a product of extensive discussion by county officials, the 45 mph zone would extend a half mile north of the junction. The same speed will apply to 30 Road a half mile west of the corner and from the corner east to U.S. 281.

But, the change fell short of what some wanted. Stover’s stepfather Steve Weber presented a petition with 685 signatures supporting the installation of a four-way stop.

“We want you to review in more detail what the residents want,” he said. “I think lowering the speed limit is a good idea, but I’m not sure if it will make a huge difference.”

“This won’t bring back our daughter, we know that,” he said. He just asked commissioners to do what they could to protect drivers from reckless behavior.

“There is no way to cure distracted drivers,” Commissioner Don Davis said, noting it's worse now with cell phones. “We are all guilty. You have to focus on driving first.”

Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz said she sympathized with Weber and appreciated his petition efforts, but the commission has lots of interests to consider. “We have done about as much as we can with the exception of a four-way stop but we will continue to monitor that.”

The new signs should be in place by the end of the week. After that, Sheriff Brian Bellendir said his officers will begin selective enforcement to enforce the new speed limits, issuing warnings during a two-week grace period before giving citations.

However, he said there is no place to conceal a marked patrol car. So, his deputies will run unmarked cars with hand-held radar units.

County Engineer Barry McManaman said the speed change follows improvements already made to the intersection. These have included:

• White stop bars being installed on 30 Road to better delineate where to stop.

• Larger, 48-inch stop signs, larger “Cross Traffic Does Not Stop” signs and larger “Stop Ahead” signs, all with ultra-high grade reflectivity, will be installed.

• Rumble strips on 30 Road will recut to be wider, and a third set of strips will be added on 30 Road east of the intersection.


Stover was killed when her westbound car was struck broadside by a northbound loaded cement truck after she failed to stop. 

As the result of the accident, the commission requested county staff research potential safety improvements. On May 7, the commission took the first steps to make changes came after a long, emotional discussion.

In addition to comments from county officials were those from county residents, including Greg Schenk, who lives at the corner and whose shelter belt has been called into question, and Heather Weber, mother of the victim.

County officials called the junction a “problem intersection,” and looked Monday, April 23, at ways to make it safer. This led to a meeting that day involving McManaman, County Administrator Phil Hathcock, Barton County commissioners, County Works Director Darren Williams and Bellendir.  

They brought forth two options.

First was revamping the existing two-way intersection. The second was the four-way stop.

In the end, the commission took the first option. But, stressed that this may be only an interim step as further study may lead to more changes.

Prior to the change, the speed limit jumps from 45 miles per hour south of 30 Road to 55 north of it.  

East and westbound traffic on 30 Road is alerted to stopping by rumble strips, a stop sign and a flashing red light, and there is a sign noting cross traffic doesn’t stop.

Bellendir told commissioners that, according to accident reports, there are have been four crashes at the intersection. But, that is misleading.

These reports note the intersection as the crash location only if it took place where the roads actually cross. They do not include wrecks outside that crossing that may have been caused by it. 

A 10-year study by the Kansas Department of Transportation indicates that between 2008-2015, there were 15 crashes there, McManaman said. However, these were evenly distributed between vehicles coming from all directions.

Bellendir said his deputies have held special enforcements in the area. He did note that it is legal, since there is not white stop line or crosswalk, for a driver to ease up as close to the corner as possible to look for traffic.