Archive for Wednesday, February 21, 2007

County reorganizes Noxious Weeds Department after departure

February 21, 2007

With its current director officially leaving his post April 1, the Leavenworth County Noxious Weeds Department will be incorporated under the county Public Works Department -- at least for the time being.

The County Commission met Thursday to determine the future of the department, which provides for the control and eradication of noxious weeds and has been headed by Ed Sass for more than 20 years.

Earlier this month, Sass submitted his resignation.

Public Works director Bill Green told commissioners the Public Works Department was fully capable of assuming all responsibilities of the Noxious Weeds Department but would work to find a licensed employee to handle all weed-related issues. According to state mandate, whoever assumes charge must be commercially licensed to distribute restricted chemicals such as Tordon, a spray commonly used to exterminate troublesome weeds.

Current Noxious Weeds employee Duane Reed explained how the department has been a big benefit to the community.

The department, Reed said, had provided "custom spraying" for small acreage farmers, who don't have the capabilities to spray for weeds themselves and who can cause ground pollution by overusing chemicals. The department has also provided discount chemicals to larger landowners through the years, has eradicated weeds along highways and county roads, and has overseen inmate work crews.

Until final plans are made, the Public Works Department will, in effect, take over the administration of the Noxious Weeds Department and will report back to the board Feb. 26 with a recommendation for further action.

In other business Thursday:

  • The commission met with Kansas Department of Health and Environment representatives regarding a solid waste crisis at the 13-acre homestead of Ernie and Wanda Bjorgaard, located at 14301 Loring Road.

According to KDHE spokeswoman Rebecca Wenner, the main concern is that the "piles of solid waste are removed so that the potential of it catching fire goes away."

KDHE requested the use of county trucks and front loaders to take the approximately 400 cubic yards of materials, such as empty chemical drums, trailer remnants, and general debris to the transfer station and landfill.

According to Commissioner Oroke, the county has been hesitant to act thus far because of liability concerns.

After assurance from KDHE that the county would not be held liable for any potentially hazardous materials, the board voted, 2-0 (Commissioner Clyde Graeber was home sick), to aid KDHE in the cleanup.

"We just want to get this bulk off of the property," said KDHE representative Tony Guy.

  • The commission approved, 2-0, the Juvenile Justice Authority's application for a state block grant. The grant will allow the JJA to continue delinquency prevention projects and graduated sanctions programs, including anger-management classes and a new program helping grandparents or other elderly relatives to successfully raise grandchildren.

"I think (this grant) meets our needs and will allow us to do a great deal in a short time," said Commission Chairman J.C. Tellefson.

  • The board voted unanimously to allow Dan Rowe, of Treanor Architects, to move forward with planned renovations to the Leavenworth County Justice Center.

A new kitchen area and work release/trustee housing area is to be built in the jail at an estimated cost of $1.16 million to the county. The board gave Rowe permission Thursday to contract for kitchen supplies directly through Santee/Becker Associates of Mission. The project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2007.

  • The commission approved, 2-0, a $2,100 purchase of new software for the survey department. The funds will be drawn from the county's technology fund. According to county surveyor Dan Schmitz, the mapping software "will allow any work we do to be compatible with the GIS department."

The board also renewed Schmitz's contract for one year at a salary of $57,502.

  • The commission unanimously approved a $9,000 bid for remodeling the District Court clerk's office. The renovation includes new countertops, cabinets and workstation, with work scheduled for completion in mid-March.

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