County Receives Large Refund Check from BC/BS

The Mitchell County Commissioners were pleasantly surprised Monday morning when Charles Krull, long time Blue Cross/Blue Shield representative for this area, presented Commission Chairman Mike Cooper with a premium refund check for the year 2012 in the amount of $405,094.22.

Krull told the commissioners this is an almost unheard of amount for a retro-respective benefit check paid out to a county by their company. Krull explained how this program works and why this rebate was so high this year. He said this has been an exceptional year in that the 92 contracts held by Mitchell County employees turned in very few high cost medical/hospitalization claims to BC/BS.

Krull announced that after 42 years with Blue Cross/Blue Shield he is retiring this year so the county will have a new representative this coming year. The Commissioners and Clerk Chris Treaster expressed their thanks for Krull's help in the past and said they are sad to see him leave.

Chairman Cooper, Commissioners Tom Clausson and Jim Marshall, and the Clerk Treaster met in an executive meeting with Clint Offutt to discuss non-elected personnel. While Chairman Cooper said no decisions were made during the meeting the commissioners then offered Offutt a full time job working for the county. He immediately accepted the position.

Offutt will start his new job next Tuesday, February 5, and will be working with the County's Global Information System (GIS). For the present time, Offutt will be part of the Appraiser's Office and will work with all of the County Department Heads in setting up a long-term GIS goal for the county. Commissioners are asking all county departments to work together to get the necessary information to Offutt. In the future this will become a separate department with Offutt as the head of it, Chairman Cooper said.

Ed Debesis, Director of Emergency Medical Services, brought in the five-year plan on a spreadsheet showing his departments capitol outlay through 2017 and how it would be affected by the cost of equipment he has proposed purchasing. He showed the lease cost on two Heart Start Monitoring Systems, a new Stryker Power-Pro Cot to replace an older one and the payment cost each year for the new ambulance that will be coming in the middle of February. The total cost to come out of their capitol outlay at the end of 2013 would be $92,915.37 for the year and $165 million 780 dollars through 2017. This would leave $75,838,37 in the EMS capital outlay fund, he said.

Debesis will be going to Wichita this next Monday to look at the new ambulance at the factory of Osage Emergency Services and check to see if everything is set up as was earlier specified. He will also be attending the Board of EMS meeting to be held in Topeka next Wednesday.

Larry Emerson, Public Works Department, discussed the bathroom water use problems at the Recycling Building at the Mitchell County Fairgrounds with the commissioners. Commissioner Claussen said he hasn't had a chance to talk to Barbara Wise of OCCK about this yet. He feels that if this excessive use of water in these bathrooms continues the commissioners will have no choice but to eliminate the bathrooms entirely because the county can't afford these high water bills for no more actual use than there is. Commissioners feel the person supervising the OCCK workers should physically check to see if this water is turned off before they leave the building. Claussen says since OCCK has a bus there they could run anyone needing to use the bathroom back to OCCK if they had to. He will talk to Wise about this.

Emerson told commissioners he has had several requests from area townships wanting to buy the old backhoe from the transfer station. Commissioners feel the company that gets the bid on the new equipment will be willing to work with them on this. Bids on the new backhoe will be opened at the February 9 meeting at 9 a.m.

Commissioners have been approached about bidding on the crushing job at the Landfill. Emerson said they have had the same person do this for many years. He does a good job and cleans the area before he leaves. He also takes the e-waste and disposes of it. He would like to stay with the person they know would do a good job. It was decided since there won't be any need for this service again until fall that no decision needed to be made now. Emerson's crew will start graveling roads 230 and 340 down by Pearson's. Trees have been removed from the right of way on these roads and that is a big help, he said.

Heather Hartman, Economic Development, discussed more information on the Governor's ROZ Program with commissioners. The decision was made to increase the county's share of funding by $6,000 a year for the next five years. This would be enough to accept six more applications a year making a total of 9,000 a year to this fund allowing nine people to apply for this grant instead of the present three.

Sondra Hone, Mitchell County Health Department Director, held a 15-minute meeting with an increase of 5 more minutes, in a an executive meeting with commissioners. No decisions were made. Hone announced they have changed the date of the Health Fair to April 27th this year. It will once again be held at the NCK Technical College.

Matt Schroeder met with commissioners for a continuation of his earlier appointment. He questioned what taxpayers of this county are getting for their money. Chairman Cooper answered that all the services the county provides are service oriented and they are not there to make a profit. Some may not benefit everyone in the county but do help certain group of people. Some are necessary for the running of the county and some are state mandated. All are for the benefit the residents of Mitchell County. He said they are always working to cut unnecessary waste and hold the line on expenses. However, there are new bills in the legislature right now that will tighten things a lot more and the commissioners will have to abide by their rules. Schroeder asked why the county has to be monitored by the state. He feels it is time people stand up for their rights, not allow the state to run things and just tell them, "enough is enough." Cooper explained why they couldn't do that.

Schroeder feels there is a lot of things in the county that need improving on. He says a lot of things have been told about him that is not true. Lies have been told about the kids who were killed after being in his bar. He has been indicted on charges that are not true. He voiced concerns about why the commissioners don't do something about the Mitchell County Attorney and the Sheriff's Department. Chairman Cooper explained the County Attorney and the Sheriff are both elected positions and the commissioners have no jurisdiction over what they do.

Responding to Schroeder's idea about this county succeeding from the Union, Cooper said, the County Commissioners are going to uphold the Constitution of the United States and they are not going to succeed from the Union. Schroeder said he feels a lot is going on in this county that is not right. Commissioners agreed but said this is not part of their job on this board.

Schroeder mentioned the murders that were ruled as suicides and feels not enough is being done to stop this and said more people need to be hired to come in and investigate these things. Commissioner Claussen said he has met the new Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent and they have new evidence in these cases. Schroeder said if so then this would certainly be a step in the right direction. However, Claussen reminded him, the County Commission has no influence on how these cases are handled. Schroeder thanked Commissioners for their time and for listening to his concerns.

The County Department Head Meeting was held immediately following the adjournment of the regular meeting.

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