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Townships seek road meeting

Staff writer

Liberty Township road and bridge representative Linda Peters appeared at Monday’s county commission to address the county’s road situation.

She requested an evening meeting to give township representatives opportunity to raise concerns and communicate with the Road and Bridge Department.

“I’m not blaming the graders in this area,” Peters said. “They have a monumental task after months of neglect. I want to apologize in advance for the anger and disgust they see in the eyes of residents, landowners, and taxpayers.”

Many residents want to hold another meeting, and wish to do so even without the commission’s blessing, she said.

“Others want to start a petition to recall all three of you,” Peters said. “They feel you commissioners have the power to change this mess and don’t. Then maybe the county needs to find commissioners who will. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”

Earlier in the meeting, Road and Bridge supervisor Jesse Hamm said the worst roads received repairs to make them drivable.

“I’m not saying we fixed them 100 percent, but we got them safer,” Hamm said.

A temporary fix should not be the goal, Peters said.

“They took six more inches off the road,” she said. “The next rainfall they’ll take six more inches off the road because they didn’t fix the problem. They made them drivable.”

Peters supplied several photographs of roads in neglect.

“Most of our roads in Liberty, I would say 75 percent, are now one lane roads,” Peters said.

“I’m sure their thought is that they need to cut it down and get the ditch out,” commissioner Kent Becker said.

EMS employee Josh Clevenger informed commissioners he would not be teaching classes for the county until a clear billing policy was established for employees teaching classes, he said.

As a CPR training site for the American Heart Association, the county’s EMS branch reports to the training center at Salina Regional Health.

The county can’t hold CPR courses because Clevenger is the only remaining instructor with qualifications, AHA training coordinator at Salina Regional Health, Rita Protzman, said.

According to her, Clevenger requested not to be aligned under the county EMS branch.

“He just wanted to be aligned as an individual,” Protzman said. “Which is very common. I have dozens of people like that.”

In addition to teaching for the county, Clevenger does training for military and his personal business, he said.

Commission chairman Dianne Novak recently received information about independent contracting for employees, which was not a problem, she said.

Clevenger paid for his CPR classes out of pocket, which is why he can teach courses privately.

If Clevenger decides not to teach classes through EMS, there is a simple fix, Protzman said.

“If there’s an AHA instructor in good standing who wants to align with Marion County EMS, that’s fine,” she said.

Bob Church made his first appearance as interim EMS director. Church requested expanding the number of part-time positions from four to eight.

“Most of them have full-time jobs,” he said. “When I start dialing the phone to see if they can work, the fewer people I have to pick from, the more chances are that they’re all busy.”

The determining factor lies with how many hours a part-time employee works, county clerk Tina Spencer said.

“They would need to keep it under 30 hours a week,” she said. “Otherwise, we’d be required to offer them full benefits.”

A proposal to allow Church to take a county vehicle home for response to emergencies passed 2-1, with Dallke opposed.

Church, who lives in Newton, said he doesn’t go home when he works multiple days in a row.

“A lot of times, I’m in the county even if I’m not on duty,” he said.

While using a county vehicle raises concerns, leaving Church with personal transportation has its own drawbacks, county attorney Brad Jantz said.

“We create another set of issues on the other side of this,” he said. “If he’s responding in a personal vehicle and has any kind of mishap then we have liability issues there as well.”

Last modified Sept. 27, 2018

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