Riley County Commission Observer Reports, April 28-May 26, 2016


Riley County Commission 4/28/16

Joan Strickler, observer

Commissioners Ben Wilson, and Ron Wells present, Boyd absent.

Human Resource Manager Cindy Volanti discussed a shared leave request from an employee experiencing health issues but with little leave time accumulated.  The request would not meet the requirements of established Commission policy.  Following discussion it was agreed that, while the policy should be reviewed for possible changes, it would not be wise to agree to the request at this time since it would open the door to new such exceptions.

County Attorney Barry Wilkerson updated the Commission on issues at his office.  Questions were raised about a published letter from a local attorney, Joe Knopp, questioning the expense of increasing security measures at the Courthouse.  In discussing the issue concerns were expressed about the possibility of knife or other attacks as well as guns.  Wilkerson expressed the opinion that people seem to be getting more aggressive in court particularly in cases involving domestic and child custody cases.  Family and friends of the accused can present problems as well.  It is important not just to protect judges and attorneys but also members of the jury and others in the courthouse.  Commissioner Wells agreed that security measures need to be implemented and suggested costs might be less if security firms were hired for protection instead of depending upon Riley County police officers.

County Attorney Clancy Holeman briefly discussed some of the key elements of what constitutes a meeting subject to the provisions of the Open Meetings Act.

City Manager Ron Fehr updated the Commission on the City’s activities.  Phase two of the addition at the airport is progressing well.  The City will be receiving federal pass through funds from the Kansas Department of Transportation to rebuild the infrastructure of the brick street on Juliette Avenue.

Riley  County Commission May 16, 2016

Observer: Julie Merklin

All commissioners present

Jayme Morris -Hardeman announced the Summer CASA training in June for 8 sessions, beginning June 6th. For information, contact Jana at or call 785-537-6367

You must 21, commit to serve for one year, complete application and background checks and commit to 30 hours of training.  You must also have a passion and dedication for making a difference in the life of a child.

Greg McClure reported that the tour of the Riley County Extension wheat variety plot would be on Thurs, May 26.  For more  information and supper reservations call785/537-6350.

Clancy Holeman presented a draft  Public offer of sale Documents for Courthouse-Plaza East.  This was a work session and many more details will have to be worked out.  Yes, this is the former telephone building where many County offices are now located.

A dozen or so citizens came into the meeting to participate in a discussion of the replacement of the Fancy Creek Bridge which is very deteriorated.  The plan is to close it for several months and rebuild.  This will require detours of several miles (up to 9 miles) involving some gravel township roads.  Several residents spoke of the great inconvenience this will cause to their farming business- some even have land on both sides of the bridge.  The commissioners recognized the legitimate concerns of the residents.  One possible remedy would be a “shoo-fly” constructed near the bridge but this could cost up to $500,000, half the cost of the bridge.  The  decision was to proceed, using the detour, with the Commission promising to help the townships with road maintenance.


Riley County  Commission May 19, 2016

All Commissioners present

Julie Merklin, observer

The meeting did not begin until 9 a.m. because of the Good Morning Manhattan meeting from 7:15-8:30 this morning.

Debbie Regester, Register of Deeds reported the ongoing project of redigitization of the records in her department.  The records are now in microfiche type format.  Previous digitizations have been tried but the process now being used is a great improvement.

Year to date revenues are disappointing.  YTD for 2015 was $447,125 and for 2016 it was $319,258 – a shortfall of 127,867.

Bids were opened for the Winkler Mills bridge deck rehabilitation.  There were 6 bids ranging from $288,306 to $108,156.  Engineers estimate is $245,741.  The bids will be evaluated by staff and recommendations brought back to the commission.

The problem of notifying possible users of this bridge about the impending closing and construction was discussed and it was thought best to use an informational warning sign for some period before actually closing for repairs.

Jessica Fiscus presented a Power Point illustrating the Drafted Riley County Health Department Strategic Priorities.  These are quite detailed and will be used in the transition to the new head of the Health Department.  This person apparently has been hired but not yet announced.


Riley County Commission May 23, 2016

Joan Strickler, observer

Commissioners Wilson, Boyd and Wells present, Wilson presiding.

In early discussions Commissioner Wells said he had talked with several people concerned about the Commission looking into selling the existing office building without first having a place to move into.  He said he could understand their point of view.  Other concerns were raised about increased funding for the police department.  The increase, however, is to meet new demands, particularly with increased courthouse security.

Jennifer Wilson reported a 12% increase in persons assisted in filling out their tax returns.  About 20 volunteers assisted with the program.  Wilson said they were grateful to have a Spanish speaking K-State student in accounting participate as a volunteer.  She helped Spanish speaking persons with their filings and has also assisted in getting their children involved in 4-H programs.  Wilson noted the County is facing an immerging issue as non-English speaking families move into the community.

Monty Wedel, Planning/Special Projects Director, noted the County has retained the services of LSL Planning/SAFEbuilt of Northglenn, Colorado to rewrite the Zoning and Subdivision Regulations.  Project Manager, Elizabeth Garvin will assist in creating an integrated set of Land Development Regulations for the County.  Individuals wishing to receive notifications regarding the project may sign up for the Notify Me on the County’s website.

Assistant County Counselor Craig Cox said plans for a tax sale will be announced soon.  He added many persons who are tax delinquent over a lengthy time are likely to walk away from the property.  Tax sales he added, tend to raise very little money.


Riley County Commission May 26, 2016
Joan Strickler, observer

Commissioners Wilson and Wells present, Wilson as chair.

Jennifer Green was introduced as the next Health Department Director.  Her duties will begin in August.

Kevin Howser, IT/GIS Director, said the 2016 LiDAR flight information is now on the County website.  The information is widely used by realtors and police as well as the general public.  His office provides apps for entities such as police and fire responders to assist in determining accurate locations in emergencies.

Howser also warned of the expensive amount of malware affecting computers today.  He urged staff and public to be extra cautious.

The Director of the Historical Museum, Cheryl Collins, and staff member Alana Parker, described a presentation they gave to 9th graders about life in Manhattan during the Cold War years. They described precautions taken such as the missile silos and bunkers where food and water were stored.  They also asked what concerns the students have about safety today.

Craig Cox, Deputy County Counselor, described plans for the real estate tax foreclosure sale.  The sale will handle property delinquent from 2007 to 2010 with 196 tracts involved.  The sale is scheduled for September 27.

It was mentioned that architect Brent Bowman was involved at an earlier time developing plans for renovations to the current Commissioners office building and the Christian Church property across from the County office building housing Clerk and Treasurer’s offices.  It was agreed it was time to get Bowman involved once again.



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