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County seeks to improve well-traveled roads





Seeking options to accommodate heavy truck traffic on 230th Avenue and Feedlot roads, Ellis County commissioners voted Monday to authorize applying for grants for road improvements.

The roads affected by the paving project include 230th Avenue between Interstate 70 Exit 157 and Feedlot Road from 230th Avenue to U.S. Highway 183. Improvements to each road likely would be in excess of $2 million.

Substantial truck traffic is a concern on the roadway due to expansions by Hess Services and existing home and businesses in the area.

Commissioners authorized county officials to apply for Kansas Department of Transportation and Community Development Block grants, and to explore other options, such as special assessments and tax increment financing, should those two grant applications fail.

Acquiring state funds is highly competitive with approximately $6 million available statewide through KDOT, according to Public Works Director Mike Graf.

"So you're competing for dollars that are (needed) around the state," he told commissioners.

County Administrator Greg Sund urged commissioners to authorize applying for the grants because the window of opportunity to acquire funds likely will close soon. Without grants, the county is "not going to be very successful in construction of this road," he said.

"We just don't have the money."

Construction would entail widening the roads to allow for large loads and making other improvements to aid visibility.

Commission Chair Swede Holmgren said he is concerned about safety on the roadway.

"You pull out from the shooting range," he said. "It's blind coming from the hill.

"You don't know what's coming from the north. They're on top of you before you know it."

In other business, commissioners:

* Approved release of funds for Rural Water District IC KANSTEP grant application.

* Voted 3-0 to approve contracting with Kirkham-Michael Construction Engineers to provide a cost proposal for a road safety project.

* Were updated by Graf that Glassman Corp. is researching public works building shop exhaust system issues.

* Were informed by Sheriff Ed Harbin that County Counsel Bill Jeter had no concerns with a lease agreement to place an antenna and equipment for amateur radio at the Springhill radio tower.

* Asked to table approval of a fire district bylaw resolution.

* Received information from Sund regarding a maintenance contract for voice-recording equipment in the public safety communications center.

* Approved Commissioner Dean Haselhorst as Ellis County delegate to the annual Kansas Workers Risk Cooperative for Counties. Holmgren was chosen as alternate.

* Discussed moving forward with priorty-based budgeting.

* Agreed to meet in executive session at next week's meeting to perform an annual review of Sund's job performance.