Busy Morning For County Commissioners

What looked to be an uneventful agenda for the Mitchell County Commissioners this morning turned out to be a busy morning instead. There were only three items on the agenda when the morning began and one canceled making it a really short meeting when you looked at it on paper. This however changed as the morning went on.
Phil Roberts of McDonald/Roberts Funeral Home was first on the agenda to talk about the problems and expense incurred when faced with an indigent burial. There are several Kansas statutes dealing with this situation. Roberts said this situation happens when an unclaimed body is brought in with no known relatives. The disposition of a body is up to the county coroner. They have to hold it for 96 hours. If no family comes forward a decision has to be made of what to do with it. They have even taken bodies to Salina to be put in cold storage.

Roberts said they feel everybody deserves a decent burial but this situation has been happening more and more lately and it is getting pretty expensive for them. The city helps out but the funeral homes out of pocket expenses are still quite high even if they get the casket and vault at a lower end rate. They are willing to help out but it is getting expensive, Roberts said. Commissioners Claussen asked how many times this happens and was told two or three times a year.

After discussion the commissioners decided the county would help but would set a cap on the amount they will pay at $750; which is the amount many other counties pay on this. Chairman Mike Cooper said they would discuss this with County Attorney Mark Noah about drawing up a resolution to the effect that if there is an indigent body and no immediate family can be found after due diligence has been made to find them the county will pay up to $750 on their burial. For now the commissioners put this decision on hold until they pursue it a little bit further.

David Porter was named on the agenda but a number of people were present to discuss what they perceive as problems with the Beloit Township Road. This included Porter himself, Evajean Chase, David Chase, Dr. Jerome Carrico, Jeff VanPelt, Dale Konzem and Scott Wright, Attorney.

According to Porter his property is land locked and he can't get in to farm it. He said, in 1988, the Mitchell County Commissioners, approved putting what is known as the Beloit Township Road in place. At the time a survey was authorized to determine the coordinates of the road giving a 40-foot easement for the road measuring from the center of the road. This was never done. Porter also asked that the road be expanded another 200 feet as originally planned and a way be provided to him to get in to his land to farm it. Dr. Carrico's renter has two ways to get in to that property, he said.

After hearing the various sides of the issue, Chairman Cooper announced as far as he could see, this is the townships responsibility to settle this issue because Mitchell County is not County Unit. The county's only responsibility is to pay Evajean Chase for their part of the cost of the survey on the parcel of the land they are involved in. The other people involved may have to take the rest of their disagreements to Court to resolve this issue, he said. Cooper will talk to Schwab-Eaton about their cost on the survey.

The commissioners received a contract proposal from Consolidated Foods to set up a kitchen and provide meals to the inmates in the Mitchell County Law Enforcement Center. Lori Peterson and Scott Garrett, representatives from that company were here last week and were taken on a tour of three possible sites for the kitchen. These included the old law enforcement center that now houses the Emergency Management Office and the Communications and Dispatch Center. The building is owned by the county and has a lot more room available in it. They also looked at the V.F.W facility and the Barstow Building on the Mitchell County fairgrounds.

In the contract proposal from that company today, they agreed with commissioners that would be the best way for the county to go since they already own the buildings and are presently paying the utility bill there anyway. They will be converting two adjoining rooms and will have very little expense to clear the area. Some electric work will have to be done but Courthouse Supervisor, Brian Streit, can do the plumbing. The food company will be setting up the kitchen with $42,000 work of equipment. The county will pay a specified amount a year and in five years the equipment will belong to the county.

After looking over the cost of the meals that were quoted commissioners questioned it they were right because they just didn't add up. It was decided who ever drew up the contract put the decimal in the wrong place. Instead of 4 cents a day for meals for each prisoner it should be 40 cents a day. Even at that it is a lot less than what they are presently paying. A phone call to Lori Peterson confirmed this action.

The commissioners approved an annual food service contract with Consolidated Foods for the meals of the inmates at the LEC Building. They also approved moving ahead with plans for the kitchen to prepare this food to be constructed in two designated rooms in the old LEC Building southeast of the courthouse. They are waiting for the final contracts from the company. They hope to get the two representatives back out here next week so they can proceed with the project as soon as possible and stop the extra expense.

Commissioner Marshall announced a County Health Meeting to be held in the old Mitchell County Hospital Board Room in the basement of the MCHHS building Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. The commissioners met with Mitchell County Treasurer Yvonne Melton, and afterwards it was announced the Mitchell County Treasurer's office will be closed from 8:30 to noon next Wednesday, September 18, for the staff to attend a training session in Osborne. Also, remember the commissioners will meet next Monday September 23, but will not meet the following Monday, September 30.

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