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County recognized for Santa Fe Trail support

Staff writer

Marion County Commission received an Award of Merit from the national Santa Fe Trail Association on Monday for its support of efforts to mark the route of the trail through the county.

Steve Schmidt, president of the local Cottonwood Crossing chapter of the association, cited the commission’s decision to provide land for a kiosk, assisting with a site near Lost Springs, and allowing trail crossing signs to be placed in the public right of way as reasons for the award.

Because of the county’s cooperation, Marion County will soon be the first county with a full set of signs marking trail crossings from the National Park Service. Schmidt said the commission is the first governing body in the country to receive the Award of Merit from the association.

He also proposed an additional avenue of cooperation. The chapter has promotional materials that it distributes, but the county economic development department has a greater reach for promotion. He said the chapter could provide artwork from brochures for the county to reproduce and distribute at tourism events throughout the state.

Eight members of the Cottonwood Crossing chapter and two representatives of the national organization attended the presentation.

The Santa Fe Trail Association was founded in 1986, a year before Congress designated the trail a national historic trail.

Funeral directors make recommendation for autopsies

Funeral directors Jared Jost of Jost Funeral Home, Hillsboro, and Ty Zeiner of Zeiner Funeral Home, Marion, recommended using a forensic lab in Kansas City for autopsies over labs in Topeka and Liberal. The lab in Kansas City has a good reputation, Jost said.

A decision is needed because Sedgwick County will discontinue conducting autopsies for the county in November.

Regardless of where bodies are sent for autopsies, the county will need to make new arrangements for transportation, Zeiner said.

“I don’t have the time or the staff to spend two days transporting that far,” he said.

Zeiner also recommended having bodies embalmed after the autopsy and before being returned to the family for a funeral, because after an autopsy, a body that hasn’t been embalmed is difficult to transport.

Autopsies are required whenever someone under 18 years old dies, and whenever the county coroner declares a death suspicious. So far the county has required eight autopsies in 2011. There were none in 2010, and three in 2009, County Attorney Susan Robson said. All three labs have a base cost of $1,200 to $1,300 per autopsy, Robson said.

In other business:

  • Robson met with the commission in closed session for 10 minutes to discuss matters protected by attorney-client privilege. No action was taken on return to open session.
  • An agreement with the state to exchange federal road funds for state funds at a 90-percent return was approved for $130,000. Because there are fewer strings attached to the state funds, the county will be able to use them to replace road signs.
  • Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman hopes to purchase 20 sandwich board-style signs to use during community events. She often uses repurposed real estate signs, but those signs can’t be put everywhere. Commissioner Randy Dallke said to buy only one until it has been seen in action.
  • Cooperative Grain and Supply of Hillsboro will provide 8,000 gallons of diesel and unleaded gasoline to Road and Bridge Department for $25,153. Cardie Oil Company of Tampa bid $25,634.
  • Road and Bridge Department is building stockpiles of material for chip sealing roads in the Goessel area next spring.
  • Park and Lake Department will purchase a tractor and 15-foot mower from LDI of Hillsboro for $80,892. The purchase price will be split among the department’s capital outlay fund, the solid waste fund, and financing until 2012. Funding from the solid waste fund is because the tractor and mower will be used to mow the former landfill, as required by the state.
  • Hiring a third full-time worker for the lake was discussed. A third person would alleviate overworking the staff during the summer, and the person could split time between the lake and Road and Bridge Department or Noxious Weed Department during the winter.
  • Noxious Weed Department Director Rollin Schmidt brought examples of johnsongrass and sericea lespedeza to show the commission. He said if it were up to him, he would remove sericea lespedeza from the state noxious weed list. Other states view it as a beneficial plant, and Alabama even subsidizes its use as a forage crop. Schmidt said cattle often prefer to graze on sericea lespedeza over other forage.

Last modified Oct. 12, 2011

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