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Commissioners Discuss Employee Drug Testing

The Mitchell County Commissioners met with Annette Rodecap, a representative for TMHC Services, Inc, a company that offers a variety of affordable and customized drug and alcohol testing options. This is the same program the county was on a few years back but for the past several years haven't been doing anything with it. The commissioners intend to reactivate this program for all county employees except elected officials.

The Mitchell County Road and Bridge Department employees have been on this drug and alcohol-testing program for a number of years. TMHC is fully compliant with Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements as well as state and federal regulations and include DOT compliance to ensure a drug-free workplace.

Rodecap discussed various ways the plan can be customized to best suit the individual needs of the county employees in the judgment of the county commissioners. When the plan was being fully implemented several years ago county employees had to submit to random drug tests without prior knowledge of the day and time they would be taken.

Commissioner Tom Claussen said he is in favor of random drug testing. Tests were also required for new employees at the time they were hired. Commissioner Jim Marshall asked if the Mitchell County Health Department could still be used to run these tests and keep the cost down. Rodecap said this would be one option.

All the employee's names would be placed in a pool and be chosen randomly by a computer generated selection process. Out of a total of around one hundred employees in this county about sixty-three would fall under this category, Rodecap said. These tests would be done in private and would stay unobserved unless there was a suspicion of guilt. The cost of the tests would be per person-per month basis depending on the choice of program the county sets up, she explained.

After agreement from Commissioners Marshall and Claussen, Chairman Mike Cooper told Rodecap they would discuss this during the department head meeting that would follow the commission meeting and get back to her with their decision.

Larry Emerson, Public Works, brought in information he received from KDOT about Mitchell County's yearly allotment of Federal funds and what the amount would be if the county exchanges these for State Funds. This program has been in place for the past three years and all involved think it is to the county's benefit to make this exchange.

Although the exchange is at 90 per cent of the total funds it is felt this is beneficial since they can use the funds without having to comply with the rules and regulations that accompanies the federal money. The Federal funds would amount to $113,257.79 while the exchange would be for $101,932.91 in State funds. Emerson said they have $56,000 total carry over from last year. This will give the county around $152,0000 in total dollars available for the coming year. The commissioners signed the agreement for the exchange of funds.

Emerson said his crew is still graveling roads and pushing more out of the gravel pit. They are supposed to have their new truck back from Wichita during this next week but he wouldn't bet on it as long as it has taken them to get it done. They have the township roads looked over and back in pretty good shape before the snow starts.

Cindy McCullough requested the use of the Commission Room on December 20, from 1 to 4 p.m. for a retirement party for Dan Streit who has been the Mitchell County Noxious Weed Supervisor for the past 41 years. Dan Deneke will be taking over that position.

Chairman Cooper said he called K-Kamp, the company that insures the county to ask if the insurance would be in force if the county employees were allowed to carry guns a work or if it would increase insurance rates. He was told it would not increase the rates. Many questions are still unanswered on this subject. It was agreed this decision should be addressed in the employee handbook and that Mitchell County Attorney; Mark Noah should be involved in the wording of the agreement. It was also agreed that things about this law would change when the Legislature gets back in session.

In other business, commissioners approved a Neighborhood Revitalization Application for Brian and Sheryl Germann in USD 273 for a home north east of Tipton in the amount of $237,491.51. A malt liquor license was approved for the Beloit Pizza Hut to run through December 31, 2014.

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