County adds requirements to newspaper
Commissioners, on 2-0 vote, want reporter to attend all meetings
Leavenworth County's official newspaper will have a new task -- in addition to publishing the county's official legal notices.
On a 2-0 vote Tuesday, with Commissioner Dean Oroke abstaining, the commission decided that the official newspaper also would be required to print the commission's weekly agenda, staff the commission's regular Monday and Thursday meetings and carry reports of those meetings in the paper.
The same would apply to any specially called county commission meetings, according to the action Tuesday.
Commissioner Clyde Graeber said there was a simple reason behind his suggestion, which also garnered the support of Commission Chairman J.C. Tellefson.
"The rationale behind these requirements is that as the official newspaper of the county, citizens should be able to obtain as much information on the actions of the county from the official newspaper as is possible," he said.
The Mirror of Tonganoxie is currently the county's official newspaper, although the contract for printing the legal notices is put out for bid annually.
Bids currently are being sought and are due back next Wednesday. The commission is scheduled to award the contract at its Jan. 29 meeting.
The commission, at Tellefson's urging, added a requirement that all printed reports about the county, including editorials, guest columns and letters to the editor, that appear in the official newspaper also be made available through the newspaper's online Web site. The issue of charging for the online content would be left to the paper winning the bid, Tellefson said.
"I have no problem paying for that," he said.
Oroke said he abstained because of some unanswered questions.
"I think there's a lot more to that issue than mandating as part of the bidding process," he said. "I just can't link the two together right now."
The Mirror is owned by The World Company, which also publishes The Lansing Current and Basehor Sentinel. A reporter from one of those newspapers attends county commission meetings on a case-by-case basis, depending on the importance and relevance of agenda items to the newspapers' readers.
In other action Tuesday morning, the commission appointed Debbie McRill as permanent director of solid waste. McRill was named the interim director in late spring 2006. Both Oroke and Graeber lavished praise on McRill's management of the department as interim director.
In related news, the commission unanimously accepted the Solid Waste Management Committee's five-year plan, directed McRill to have diagnostic tests done on the department's 1985 roll-off truck and seek bids on mechanical work for the truck. On a 2-1 vote, with Tellefson opposed, the commission directed McRill to begin work on a new state permit that would allow the county's household hazardous waste building at the county's noxious weeds operation on 187th Street to be moved to the county transfer station on Gilman Road in Lansing.