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Thompson takes on noxious weeds
Restructuring part of planning for Phillips eventual retirement
new deh county commission weed dept pic
The Barton County Commission Monday morning named Kay Thompson as interim Noxious Weeds Department director. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

 Helping to pave the way to a smooth transition upon the retirement of Road and Bridge Director Dale Phillips, the Barton County Commission Monday morning named Kay Thompson interim noxious weed director. 

Phillips suggested the restructuring the three departments he oversees. These include Road and Bridge, Noxious Weed and Memorial Parks.

He will continue to supervise both Road and Bridge and Memorial Parks. But, Phillips thought it best that an interim noxious weed director be selected. 

“For myself, this is a bitter-sweet occasion,” Phillips said. Even though he will still be working for the county, the move forces him to ponder life after full retirement.

For now, he said, separating the duties will help prepare staff members for future management changes. Thompson serves as Phillips’ assistant director and has been with the department for 28 years.

Thompson thanked the commission for the vote of confidence and said she’s ready for the job. “He’s trained me well,” he said of Phillips.

“We appreciate your attention to succession planning,” Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz said.

With agriculture being the largest industry in Barton County, the Weed Department makes every effort to reduce noxious weeds with proper chemical treatments, safeguard crop production and pasture land, while considering the impact on the environment and financial resources vital to our community

Barton County provides noxious weed applications to cities, townships, the state, private landowners and county lands. Non-noxious weed control includes chemical mowing and bare ground applications for the county as well as brush control measures for townships.

“I appreciated the progress we’ve made over the years,” Phillips said of Noxious Weeds. The department is recognized statewide for its efforts.

Phillips has worked for Barton County since Sept. 11, 1973, becoming the noxious weeds director in 1976. Phillips started with the county as a “patch boy,” filling potholes on county roads. He now oversees not only the Road and Bridge and Noxious Weeds, but also the Memorial Parks department.

“There’s a lot going on in all three departments,” Phillips said. This change will allow things to move smoothly.

As for the other hats Phillips wears, is director of:

• Road and Bridge is responsible for about 400 miles of paved roads is the County. Services include snow removal, mowing ditches, pothole patching, sealing, bridge and culvert repair. 

• The Memorial Parks Department is charged with the care of Barton County memorial parks and cemeteries located north of the City of Great Bend on NW 50 Road. These include Golden Belt and Hillcrest.