Busy Morning for County Commissioners

The Mitchell County Commissioners ended up with a busy morning even though the first two appointments on their planned agenda were canceled. County Attorney Mark Noah and Sheriff Doug Daugherty were scheduled to discuss Mitchell county tax exemptions and impound fee but canceled until next week. The ladies from CASA were scheduled to place pinwheels on the Courthouse lawn but canceled due to the weather.

Clint Offutt, who is in charge of the Global Information System (GIS), came in to speak to the commissioners about getting a software update within the next few months. While he wasn't asking for a decision this morning he said, Mitchell County is "sitting pretty low on the totem pole," in comparison to the other counties in this area. The software Offutt is presently using to build data up is a slow process. He wanted to throw out some ideas as a solution since he feels this will become a necessity with in the next four months. The software he needs would cost $5,000 and then a year from now and in the future it would be $1,500 a year. Actually, this is a program the Assessors Office had a few years ago but let drop due to lack of use at that time.

Offutt said this software would put this county up to where they would be GIS assessable through out the county. Chairman, Mike Cooper, said this was their goal when the county hired Offutt. How to pay for the software was discussed and it was decided it could be paid for out of the Courthouse Technology Fund. These are non-budgeted funds paid for out of the general fund. Forty-seven thousand and eighty-six dollars are available in that fund to buy technology. It was felt they hired Offutt to do a job and he can't do it without the proper technology. The Commissioners voted to approve this software purchase.

Offutt also wanted instructions on how to price GIS services. He suggested an hourly rate with a one-hour minimum. The County Attorney is looking into the legalities of doing this. It was decided there should be different prices for the different services offered. Individual taxpayers in the county they would just charge enough to try to recover costs but vendors and people who use the service to make a profit from the information should have to pay more. No specific rates were set during the meeting.

John Cashatt, Engineer, gave a report on his inspection of the 227 bridges in the county. Larry Emerson, Public Works was also present. Cashatt gave extra information in order to bring the new Commissioner Jim Marshall up to date on the Federal and State regulations that are relevant to bridge inspections and the schooling he has had to take in order to do this work. He started the inspections in January and in summery he feels the bridges in the county are in pretty good shape. If there is an issue involving public safety or something is causing damage or erosion he makes sure to report this right away, he said.

This year is the first time the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) is doing a fractural Critical bridge inspection of all of the bridges in the county and Cashatt is worried they will decide to close some of the bridges. If KDOT decides to take some of the bridges over and do the work their self, they will use the government money that has already been allocated for the counties use to do it. "If that happens you guys are going to fight a tremendous battle," Cashatt told the commissioners.

The Commissioners voted to remain a member of the Multi-County Local Environment Program Group (LEPG) for the upcoming year and raise the county match to $1,500 a year. This is an organization that addresses water related environmental issues.

Larry Emerson, Public Works said it is time to start thinking about replacing one of his department's dump trucks. They haven't purchased any trucks for four years. There are two trucks with over $400,000 miles on them. An International salesman is coming up April 2, to talk to him. The pros and cons of changing to tractor trailers was discussed with Emerson feeling they should stay with the trucks they have now. Emerson was told to go ahead and get information and then they would discuss it. Emerson asked to put his crew back on nine-hour days and was told to do ahead and start that this week.

Tami Eck, newly elected County Register of Deeds brought in a residency resolution for her office. She said her predecessor had one and she would like to continue this. She has placed ads for a Deputy Register of Deeds in the Trader and the Call that will run 4 times. She will leave this open until April 3, before picking someone to fill the office. Commissioners signed the resolution.

Eck asked about removing the old school records from before school unification in 1955 and donating them to the Mitchell County Museum as she said her office is in dire need of more space and many counties have already done this. The Historical Society will come get it all, Eck said. Commissioners approved this action.

Matt Schroeder came in to talk to the commissioners about what he called, "Police Harassment and Constitutional Rights." Mitchell County Sheriff, Doug Daugherty was present for the meeting. Schroeder asked the commissioners if they didn't sign an oath of office to uphold the Constitution that guarantees his Constitutional Rights. Chairman Mike Cooper said he already has those Constitutional Rights without their taking an oath of office to do so.

Schroeder said, about seven times in the last few weeks police officers have come to his door saying he can't be on some of his own property. They have also upset his employee who is running the bar by shutting it down. He feels this is a violation of his Constitutional Rights. He also sited that if took three officers to drive 60 miles to his place of business and they are getting ten to fifteen dollars and hour to do it. "I feel this is above and beyond they call of duty and I would like it to stop, I have every right to be on my property, day or night." While he likes the Sheriff and has nothing against him personally, he considers this an infringement on his rights, Schroeder said.

Sheriff Daugherty countered that when his office gets phone calls from people concerning what is going on in these establishments they have a duty to check this out. He said Schroeder's is not the only establishment they check out. They do the same to any bar in the county if they get complaints from people.

Schroeder complained about two officers in particular. Daugherty said he sat in on the interviews in question and the officers did nothing wrong. "When we get reports that a bar is violating local or state laws we have check the situation out. Hunter is in Mitchell County and we are going to patrol it. We watch these places and shut them down if we have to. This applies to all the bars in this county," the Sheriff said. Schroeder again stated he doesn't appreciate being harassed like this and feels it is a case of taxation without representation. Daugherty replied, "If Schroeder abides by the laws they won't have any problems." Commissioner Claussen noted having a patrol car out there could also work in the bars favor if problems arose. Schroeder said he always takes care of his own problems to which Claussen reminded him the lady running his bar isn't nearly as big as he is.

Commission Chairman, Mike Cooper entered the conversation by telling Schroeder, "The commission meetings were held so we can deal with the operation of the county. We have no control over the police department. I suggest you take these concerns up with the County Attorney and the court system. If you have a budget concern you can come to us but this is not a playing field for you to talk about your problems with the police department every few weeks." Cooper and the other commissioners thanked Schroeder for coming in.

Heather Hartman, Community Development Director, announced the following:
A basketball game between the Harlem Ambassadors VS the Rotary Roundballers will be held Saturday, March 30th at 3 p.m. in the Beloit High Gymnasium. Tickets are available.

Also, NCK Tech College is once again offering a program to all veterans to say thank you for their service to our country. NCK Tech has established a "Veterans Honorary Associates Degree of Technical Education." Nominations can be submitted to the college to receive this honor. For additional Information contact Bobette Roesti, at 1-800-658-4655 or broesti@ncktc.edu.

County Clerk Treaster noted the courthouse would be closed for a half day on Friday March 29, for Good Friday Services. Chairman Cooper called a 5-minute executive session to discuss non-elected personnel with Clerk Treaster present. No decisions were made. The County Department Head meeting was held directly after adjournment.

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