Agencies plead for county funding

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

Ellis County commissioners heard from two subsidized organizations in Monday night's regular meeting at Ellis County Courthouse. Giving presentations were Hays Area Children's Center and High Plains Mental Health Center.

Doug Greer, executive director of Hays Area Children's Center, detailed to commissioners the services the organization provides. He described the infant/toddler early intervention services.

Greer said of 147 children served in 2011, 22 no longer need services and 53 made progress. The organization, which has provided services since 1966, receives approximately one-fourth of its funding from the county.

"The whole idea behind what we do, early childhood special-ed, is early efficacy, early intervention," Greer said. "The idea is very simple. We want to get to these kids; we want to intervene; we want to provide services so these kids no longer need assistance. That's our goal. We've been very successful in our county for a number of years in doing that."

Walt Hill, executive director of High Plains Mental Health Center, which serves 20 counties in northwest Kansas, said the organization, which received approximately $225,000 in funding last year from the county, in turn has a payroll of $3.5 million, provided $3.1 million in treatment services and served 1,650 Ellis County residents in 2012.

"We serve a variety of problems that people experience in life, from difficult changes in life, mental problems," Hill said. "Predominately, the largest number of people we see is (for) depression. It's very debilitating, keeps people away from work. Unfortunately, in some situations it's deadly. ... (People) do occasionally take their own lives."

In other business:

* County Administrator Greg Sund told commissioners he received updated information from architects on the proposed renovations/expansion of the jail and courthouse.

The architects also said if the low end of the estimates were to be used, 8 percent to 10 percent should be used for contingency expenses, instead of 5 percent.

"When you're dealing with renovation of property, you just don't know what you're going to run into until you actually get into the walls," Sund said.

Three presentations have been planned to inform the public about a proposed sales tax.

There will be a presentation Feb. 25 at Hays Noon Rotary at Bakery Shop & Catering, 230 E. Eighth; at Ellis Rotary at noon Feb. 27 at Bukovina Society building; at noon March 7 to the Hays Kiwanis Club at Bakery Shop & Catering, 230 E. Eighth.

* After a PowerPoint presentation from Hays Assistant City Manager Paul Briseno, commissioners approved the drafting of a letter of support for the Hays Bike Trail plan.

* Commissioners heard the 2012 annual report from Emergency Medical Services.

* Sund informed commissioners of upcoming bills in the Legislature.

* Sund informed commissioners of the first Eggs and Issues breakfast of this legislative session, at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Robbins Center on the Fort Hays State University campus.