April 13, 2023 Thursday, 9:00 a.m.
The Bourbon County Commission met in open session with all three Commissioners and the County Clerk present.
Anne Dare, Patty Ropp, Jason Silvers, Rob Harrington, Jared Keylon, Alysia Johnston, and Teri Hulsey were present for some or all of the meeting.
Jim Harris opened the meeting the with flag salute.
Clifton Beth made a motion to approve the consent agenda which includes approval of minutes from 4/6/23 and 4/11/23. Nelson Blythe seconded, and all approved.
Susan Bancroft requested a 7-minute executive session for consultation with an attorney. Clifton made a motion to go into a 7-minute executive session under KSA 75-4319 (b)(2) for consultation with an attorney for the public body or agency which would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship to include Susan Bancroft, all three Commissioners, and Justin Meeks and will return at 9:08. Nelson seconded, and all approved. Clifton made a motion to resume normal session at 9:08 with no action. Nelson seconded the motion, and all approved.
Eric Bailey, Public Works Director, updated the Commissioners on the meeting he attended Monday at Fort Scott Community College. FSCC is applying for a grant to repair the dam on their pond and are requesting rip/rap for the dam. Eric stated they have a lot of rip/rap with clay at the quarries that he recommends using. Alysia Johnston, Fort Scott Community College President, and Jared Keylon, Directors of Facilities and Operations, spoke about the pond project. Ms. Johnston stated this is a partnership with Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, and the grant is due in two weeks. The exact date of the construction of the pond is unknown, but there is a lot of erosion on the front and back of the dam. The college will dredge the pond and then add a liner and rock. The dredge material will be added to the back of the dam, topsoil will be added, and native grasses will be planted to help with erosion. In-kind donations are needed for the project, and they are collaborating with the city and asking them to do the dredge machine work. There is a three-phase project for the grant and they are looking at trails to connect FSCC and Gunn Park. Maps were provided showing the options. The first option is the abandoned railroad bed, the second option is 208th Street, and the third option is enhancing community opportunity with their trails and fishing opportunities, and they hope to add a driving range in the wooded area behind the baseball field. Jared Keylon stated approximately 250 loads of rock, or roughly 5,000 cubic yards, is being requested from Bourbon County for the pond project. The college will be purchasing and installing the liner themselves to try to keep costs down. Mr. Keylon said the college is looking into purchasing or renting a truck to haul the rock, will be asking the city to help dredge, and is asking for everybody to do a small piece to make the community a better place.
Hay bids for the three county owned properties were opened at 9:15. One bid for Elm Creek was received and that was from Joseph Tirri for $3,100.00. Two bids were received for the old landfill site on Native Road: one from Pat Murphy for $301.00 and one from Steven Sinn for $200.00. One bid was received for the tower site on 255th Street from Steven Sinn for $25.00. Clifton made a motion to accept Joseph Tirri’s bid for $3100 for Elm Creek, Pat Murphy’s bid for $301 for the old landfill on Native Road, and Steven Sinn’s bid of $25 for the tower on 255th Street. Nelson seconded the motion and all approved.
Jim said his grandsons grew up fishing at the college lake and it is a great project that he supports.
Jared Keylon said the first thing to do on the project will be to get the fish out, but they have no time frame for that. Mr. Keylon said they are hoping to get topsoil off the rodeo pasture during the summertime and plan to put approximately 6 inches of topsoil on the back of the dam. Nelson asked for clarification on what Bourbon County’s involvement in this project would be besides donating rock. Eric said it would just be loading the college’s truck. Clifton said to have an outside truck come into our quarry is a problem in his opinion. Jim asked if there could be a problem with MSHA, which is the Mine Safety Health Administration. Clifton said the county would need to inspect the college’s trucks. Eric said as long as the college’s driver stays inside the truck, and the truck passes county inspection and DOT regulations they can come in the quarry. Justin Meeks, County Counselor, said this is donation from government to government so he sees no legal issue with this as we are not competing with private industry. Justin said the rock is almost a burden for the county and feels it is a win-win situation. Jim asked Eric to inspect Fort Scott Community College’s truck. Eric said by removing the rip/rap it will get it out of the way to do the next blast. Clifton made a motion to allow Eric to get shot rock out of Blake Quarry for the Fort Scott Community College Lake project. Nelson seconded the motion, and all approved.
Eric discussed the 5-year solid waste plan for the landfill. Jim asked if there were any changes, and Eric stated it was just board members which change when the Commissioners change. Jim said this is something we have to update every five years for KDHE. Clifton made a motion to approve the 5-year solid waste plan. Nelson seconded the motion, and all approved.
Belly dump trailer bids were opened at 9:25. Only one bid was received and that was from Armor Lite Trailers in Sikeston, Missouri. The bid was for a bottom dump trailer with the following specifications: 40 foot, 23.5 cubic yards, 10-foot bang boards, 25,000 lb. axle for $37,500.00. Jim said the county has been doing business with this company for years and he recommends approving the bid. Jim stated the insurance proceeds from the wrecked belly dump trailer and auction proceeds from selling old equipment will be used to purchase the trailer. The goal is to have two belly dump trailers hauling gravel during the summer while the five dump trucks are tied up hauling asphalt. Jim said the trailer will haul 1.5 the amount a dump truck will. Jim made a motion to accept the bid from Armor Lite Trailers. Clifton looked up similar trailers online for comparison since only one bid was received and a new trailer was $10,000 more than what the bid was. Clifton seconded the motion, and all approved. Eric updated the Commissioners on other business stating he signed up as the county’s representative for KDOT’s Vulnerable Road User Safety Assessment Plan which is to improve walking and biking on public roads. Eric will be attending the meeting on April 24 in Chanute. Eric said there is a grant opportunity for a concrete pad and barriers for the soybean compost pad at the landfill. There is a delay on the milling of Soldier Road as the construction company’s milling machine is down.
At 9:30 Bill Michaud introduced Deborah Factor, who joined via Zoom, who will be giving a presentation on CORE Community. Bill said his wife attended a seminar in Emporia three to four years ago and saw a presentation by Deb, who has an organization called Youth Core Ministries. Bill stated he has been working for the past two years to try to bring this program to our community. The primary focus of this program is to help our citizen’s address poverty. Deb stated she started in 1998 in Greensburg, KS doing ministry and the program was originally founded for youth outside the faith community. During the process she had kids she worked with for years walk into adulthood and follow in the cycle of poverty. Deb said that her goal was to help the kids grow into healthy, thriving adults who can give back in their community and not be under the constant burden and struggle of poverty. In 2015 after modeling a program that had been successful elsewhere, she launched the poverty program. Deb said small towns have a unique position because people care about the community. In 2017 Deb and Rebecca, who graduated from a similar program, launched four sites in Kansas and now they have 13 programs in Kansas and one in Illionois. Deb stated they are talking to seven communities now who are interested in the program, and there are two additional communities who are in the fundraising phase of the programs now. The program is weekly, meeting 48-50 weeks per year and will meet with the individuals for two to five years. The program tries to educate the community on what poverty really is. Deb stated they have graduated 420 people and have impacted over 500 children. Deb said they identify barriers and help people push through them. Of the graduates, 70 % have increased their income. Deb said they are keeping track of those that are out of poverty for ten years to gather data to see if they are maintaining the upward trajectory. Bill Michaud said some programs are based upon volunteers who burn out easily and went over the different approach CORE Community has. The first step is fundraising then a community coordinator would be hired and reside in our county with CORE Community being their employer, and an advisory board would also be formed. Typically, there are two to three positions which is a community coordinator with one to two people taking care of fundraising and organizing the meals, childcare, and other tasks. Bill said this is a fundraising based organization and would not be showing up each year to ask the county for money to sustain the program. Clifton said this is something that is near and dear to his heart and that Rebecca is living proof of programs such as this. Clifton said he worked in home health and hospice in southeast Kansas and saw first-hand the poverty our residents are facing, saying that most people don’t realize there are people in Bourbon County living with dirt floors. Clifton said he would like to see the school district, college and city come together to make this program happen. Clifton made a motion to fund $50,000 to get the program off the ground. Jim seconded the motion stating poverty is close to all of us. Alysia Johnston stated the services the CORE Community program offers are critical wrap-around services to help students complete their education, certificate, or CDL. Ms. Johnston said they see the barriers every day and that this directly aligns with their mission. Bill Michaud said that he has spoken to some at the city and school board and there are some who are engaged. Nelson questioned where the money is coming from, specifically what fund. Susan Bancroft, CFO, was asked into the meeting to answer Nelson’s question. Susan stated the money is coming from PILOT funds. Nelson thanked Deb Factor for the good presentation, but stated he had no idea it was this much money and that he has no other information about the program. Nelson said we can’t give raises because there is no money, that he doesn’t believe charity is the role of government, and there is nothing stopping others in the community from writing a check. Nelson stated this is taxpayer’s money that should go toward making the courthouse run and roads better. Jim said a majority of employees received raises. The PILOT fund is money we receive from the windmill for economic development and that this program will help with that. Jim stated that elected officials can give raises if they have it in their budget. Clifton said people need to lead by example and he stands by his motion. Anne Dare asked what the next step would be after approving the funds. Clifton said a board would be developed; an employee would be hired by CORE Community who would hold them accountable. Anne asked Bill Michaud how many churches have been asked for involvement and he stated about five in Fort Scott. Clifton said he stands by his motion. Jim asked for a vote, and Jim and Clifton were in favor and Nelson was opposed. The motion carried 2-1.
A 5-minute break was taken, and normal session was resumed at 10:10.
Sheriff Bill Martin presented bids for the purchase of three vehicles. Bill stated they budgeted this year for four vehicles but couldn’t order them due to the time frame was missed. The Commissioners recently approved the purchase of two vehicles, which Sheriff Martin has purchased, but two other vehicles have been totaled since then. The request is to purchase from Superior Emergency Response Vehicles who are currently holding the vehicles for Bourbon County. Jim said he is in support of getting the vehicles but questioned if there was a way to apply the insurance money to this or to use the inmate fund money instead of financing the complete amount. Bill said they need to use the inmate fund money for jail vehicles. Clifton asked how many cars the Sheriff’s department has. Bill said they have 14 vehicles: 9 road deputies, one SRO, one process server, and two for administration. Jim said he would like to apply the insurance money to the purchase of the vehicles. Clifton asked how long it would be before the vehicles would be in service. Bill said they are holding them so if approved today it would just take a phone call to get the equipment taken out and installed in the new vehicles. Bill said the old vehicles will be sold on a government auction site and the proceeds from that he intends on applying to the loan for the purchase of the new vehicles. Susan asked if more than two banks were contacted for bids. Bill said yes, he did. Susan said initially they were trying to go for a shorter-term loan instead of the 5-year note that the bids reflected. Susan said all the money would be taken out of the sales tax fund and that they are trying to get in a system of replacing a vehicle every few years. Clifton said the interest rates on the bids seemed good. Nelson made a motion to finance the patrol vehicles for the Sheriff’s Office. Bill suggested accepting the lower interest rate and using the insurance money and any auction proceeds to pay on the loan. Clifton seconded the motion, and all approved. Clifton suggested to look at a 3-year loan over a 5-year and to go with the lower insurance rate. Jim asked Sheriff Martin to submit a 3–5-year plan to Susan and that he has approval to go get the best one. Clifton said go get your cars before someone else does.
Clifton made amotion to amend the agenda to allow Teri Hulsey, EMS Director, to speak and to move that before public comments. Teri stated she arrived at work this morning to notification that they were approved for the Kraft grant through the Kansas Board of EMS. Teri said she submitted one for a Lifepak 15, which is the monitors they use, and a Hamilton ventilator. We were awarded $20,000 on the Lifepak 15, Teri said the local match would be $10,674.18 after a $6500 credit is applied for equipment Teri is trading in. We were awarded $12,375 for the Hamilton ventilator and the local match would be $4,125. Jim stated that was very impressive. Clifton made a motion to approve the Kraft grants that Teri has worked on and received with a local match of approximately $15,000. Nelson seconded the motion, and all approved. Clifton commended EMS for being fully staffed and for all that they are doing. Jim thanked Teri and said he appreciates all that EMS does.
Clint Walker stated he challenges religious organizations in Bourbon County to look at local people’s needs before they travel out of county or state. Ed Harrison asked when the county will be starting on Elm Creek. Jim stated the shelter houses are in need of help, and that at one point a volunteer group spoke at a meeting but have not been back. Jim asked Eric Bailey to make a maintenance plan on the shelters. Jim asked what the plan for the dam repair was, because it can be very expensive. Eric stated they have found another area of concern. Clifton made a motion to amend the agenda to talk about Elm Creek. Nelson seconded the motion and all approved. Eric said they tried to open the valve but couldn’t. He feels we need an engineer’s opinion before we drain the lake and then can’t afford to fix the dam. Eric said in his opinion the grant money we received is not going to be enough to cover the repairs but said that is where an expert needs to come in and give an opinion. Jim said we need to reach out to other organizations relating to water to see if there are more grant opportunities to fix the dam. Eric said Don George wants to be in the conversation when Elm Creek is discussed. Clifton said his concern is if we open the dam we won’t have the money, know how, or equipment to properly fix it. Clifton agrees the shelters definitely need to be fixed. Eric said the caretaker has been clearing brush to allow better access to the water and that the area was burned last week. Eric agrees we need to put money into roofs, painting, and electrical on the shelter and even suggested looking into repairing the grill areas. Jim suggested contacting the SEKRPC to see if there are other grants to help fix dams for watershed or water storage. Eric said the equipment needed to fix the dam is going to be above what the county has. Jim said the dam is historic so we can’t just fill it with bentonite. Mr. Harrison asked if we might be able to obtain money since it is a historical dam. Nelson questioned if we own the dam even, if it is historical, who is stopping us from fixing it however we want. Eric said where the valve is concerned, we need a professional opinion. Nelson asked what we can fix now on the shelters. Eric said we need to start with the roofs. Tuckpointing needs to be done and you can usually find people in the winter who may be laid off construction crews to do that. Clifton asked Mr. Harrison to gather the group of volunteers to come back to the meeting or to contact one of the commissioners or Eric. Mr. Harrison state he would talk to them. The hookups for electric while camping were discussed, and Mr. Harrison said they really need to have pads laid to level trailers. Jim said that can be part of our plan for repairs. Jim said the minor repairs of paint and roofing we can do, and volunteers would be great, but the dam repair is going to take a lot of money and grants, but he thinks there are water grant opportunities out there. Jim said he agrees with Clifton and asks the volunteers to come and get on the agenda and that Don George could be invited too. Eric said he would like an engineer to look at the area of concern before Elm Creek is discussed at another meeting. Nelson asked how much an engineer would cost. Clifton said he would ask having contractors look at the dam because they would look at it for free. Mr. Harrison thanked the Commissioners and Eric for what they do and said the lake looks good and the caretaker has done a good job.
Clifton said that he and Nelson can agree to disagree and will still leave as friends. Jim said they are here working to benefit Bourbon County. Jim stated as much controversy as there was regarding the windfarms, what better place to spend the windmill money than on Bourbon County kids.
Jim made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 10:43. Clifton seconded the motion, and all approved.