Bo Co Commission Minutes of April 15

April 15, 2024                                                                              Monday, 5:30 p.m.


The Bourbon County Commission met in open session with  Commissioners Jim Harris and Clifton Beth and the County Clerk present.


Cherri Walrod, Michael Hoyt, Jason E. Silvers, Jon Lowery, Charles Gentry, Debra Martin, Larry Martin, Clint Walker, Patty Ropp, David Beerbower, and Rachel Walker were present for some or all of the meeting.


Jim opened the meeting with the flag salute.


Clifton made a motion to approve the consent agenda which includes approval of minutes from 4-8-2024 and approval of accounts payable totaling $13,848.18. Jim seconded the motion and all approved.


Katie Casper met with Commissioners to discuss her concerns regarding solar farms. Katie stated her farm has been in her family since 1948 and she and her husband built their dream home on the property in 2011. Katie talked about enjoying the view and same sunrises and sunsets her grandparents did and stated there will now be a solar panel farm installed on the 470 acres across the road from her home, with the owner of the property not even residing in the area. Katie talked about neighbors who have constructed four other homes in the area in the last ten years and stated they are all contributing to taxes. Last week a citizen came in and discussed the benefits of solar and how it could lower taxes and Katie said she would like taxes to go down because she pays $5,000 a year in taxes as well. Katie stated she has a business degree in Agribusiness and has spent her entire career in economic development in rural Kansas. Katie said she isn’t against solar, but questioned what happens if 640 acres of solar panels catch on fire. Katie stated the Commissioners have the power to help and asked them to help maintain what they built and establish setbacks.


Nick Graham talked about property rights and the Hinton Creek project where only landowners were affected. Nick discussed Crawford County who is meeting to discuss zoning areas of their county that is currently not zoned and suggested Commissioners reach out to them. Nick stated he isn’t against solar and stated there must be a way to have balance for property owners to earn money while still accommodating their neighbors.


Mary Pemberton asked Clifton about a statement that was made regarding consulting four attorneys who said we don’t have a right to negotiate contracts. Clifton stated he said the attorneys informed them they could put zoning terminology in but as he said at last week’s meeting that landowners and the parent companies of the solar farms could sue the county. Jim said they signed four agreements with Hinton Creek after property owners signed with them. Mary said that the Commissioners could establish reasonable setbacks.


Clint Walker discussed how in 2006 the legislatures voted not to tax pipelines running through Kansas and we lost 6-8 million dollars and how they now want to go back to collect but are unable to. Clint talked about the opening of a bridge in his area and how he was thankful to have gravel on his road and stated that the workers were very professional and are doing a good job.


David Beerbower talked about how nothing can be done after contracts are signed and asked if companies must have a right of way agreement with the county. Clifton stated that is for anything over 80,000 pounds. David discussed the basic rights of landowners and stated the active use of one individual’s land shouldn’t violate anybody else’s use of quiet land. David implored the Commissioners to come together to figure this out.


Michael Hoyt stated he was out of town during the April 1st meeting and said a handout was distributed and his name was mentioned during the meeting. Mr. Hoyt said he has been scolded for mentioning names in the past and is here to scold the Commissioners for allowing his name to be mentioned.


Cherri Walrod came tonight to present a CORE Communities update. CORE Communities began in November of last year in Bourbon County to address the poverty issues in our county. Cherri stated the first class will graduate on April 22, 2024 at 6:30 pm and encouraged community leaders to attend. CORE Communities is a 501-C3 nonprofit chapter affiliate of YouthCORE Ministries. Cherri stated in CORE Communities they focus on resources and relationships to help get families in a better place because poverty makes children vulnerable. Cherri stated that she has seen some great transformations of the individuals involved in the program and that they are providing hope, help, and healing. Jim thanked Cherri and her committee for what they are doing. Clifton said he wanted people to know that CORE Communited is privately funded and they do not charge their participants a fee.


Charles Gentry stated he is here on behalf of Citizens for an ER. Mr. Gentry stated in the long run they are hoping for the development of a rural hospital and that the sales tax revenue, if passed, will help entice a successful ER operator. Mr. Gentry said they are asking that special attention be spent on the ER sales tax money fund and that reports will be generated periodically and given to a committee appointed if or when the sales tax is passed. Clifton said he doesn’t have a problem with that and the fund will be audited by many. Clifton addressed concerns he has heard of some that think the Commissioners can steal the money, and said they cannot the fund will be audited and that he would be more concerned about the ER giving correct numbers. Jim said he would encourage a committee to monitor the money and receipts. Clifton made a motion to create a committee consisting of Craig Campbell, Dr. Nichols, and Charles Gentry and that he would want them to look at the company that is there to make sure they are not cheating the county. Charles stated they would do that to the extent that the data could be obtained. Jim seconded the motion and all approved.


Jim reminded everybody of a meeting regarding the sales tax on April 24th at Uniontown City Hall.


Jim made a motion to issue a moratorium effective immediately regarding solar panel farms. This will apply to any solar panel farm that does not have a signed contract by both parties and notarized at this time and date of 5:30 pm on April 15, 2024. The intent of the Commission is to begin the process of reviewing setback requirements of the solar panel farms from adjoining properties and establish guidelines. We do support property owner’s rights to use their properties as desired. This moratorium will remain in place until revoked by the Commission or January 1, 2025. Jim said if Clifton would allow it, he would go to the state and talk to other counties who have solar farms. Clifton seconded the motion and all approved.


Pete Owenby questioned if this would impact the Hinton Creek project and Jim said if contracts aren’t signed and notarized, they can’t move forward. Mary Pemberton said the motion mentioned setbacks but there were many other issues that need to be addressed and asked if the Commissioners are going to limit it to setbacks only. Jim said going forward they will share information to those involved on both sides of the fence and wants to visit with other counties. David Beerbower discussed Senate Bill 481 and said that would be a good template as it covers more than just setbacks.


Eric Bailey, Public Works Director, said he received a call from the Fort Scott Community College truck driving program who wants to make a promotional video and asked to have Public Work’s trucks in the background. The Commissioners decided this would be okay to allow the trucks to be used as they would be parked and not in use during the video.


Eric and Dustin Hall, Assistant Public Works Director,  presented the 2024 asphalt plan at a previous meeting to the Commissioners and asked tonight what their thoughts were. Eric said they are concerned with sales tax coming in low this year. Jim said he is happy with he plan as is. Clifton said he has no problem with the plan and asked how the base is on Yale Road. Eric said they will bring in more rock to Yale Road and compact it. Jim said he has a wish list of chip and seal for Locust Road from the city limits going east and Limestone Road from the city limits to 255th Street. Jim also discussed the low area on 240th Street south of Limestone Road and said he knows this will be a 2-4 year project for extra pipes but stated the road is narrow. Clifton discussed how chip and seal won’t work on some roads in his district and asked if Eric has checked into a polymer and what his thoughts were on the product. Dustin stated the Onyx that was used on 235th Street is holding up well. Clifton said he doesn’t want to dismiss the product but also doesn’t want to throw good money at a bad road.


Clifton made a motion to go into executive session under KSA 75-4319 (b)(1) to discuss personnel matters of individual nonelected personnel to protect their privacy for 7 minutes to include both Commissioners and Justin Meeks and will return at 6:42. Jim seconded the motion and all approved. Clifton made a motion to resume normal session with no action at 6:42. Jim seconded the motion and all approved.


A short break was taken with the Commissioners returning at 6:46.Clifton announced that he had a family issue and needed to leave. Clifton told Jennifer to talk to Justin with her issues. Clifton made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 6:46. Jim seconded the motion and all approved.



___________________, Chairman


ATTEST:                                                                                                    ___________________, Commissioner

Jennifer Hawkins, Bourbon County Clerk

4-22-2024                               Approved Date

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *