Adams aims for first position on Ellis County Commission
By DAWNE LEIKER
Ron Adams, Republican and retired state of Kansas employee, is hoping to add a fiscally conservative voice to the Ellis County Commission.
Adams worked for the Kansas State Fire Marshal office and Kansas Department of Health and Environment prior to retirement. He will face Democratic incumbent Dean Haselhorst for Third District Ellis County commissioner during Tuesday's election.
Attending county commission meetings throughout the last few months, Adams said he has seen several county issues that concern him. One topic he addressed during an interview last week was county employee morale as employees have transitioned to leadership by a county administrator in the past two years.
Employees, he said, were accustomed to having a department head or elected official at the helm of their department but now have another level of leadership involved in the decision-making process.
"We need to have a smoother system and better communication between these department heads and administrator and commissioners," Adams said. "Commissioners need to be more involved with the department heads, too, instead of having this county administrator in between."
He said the system itself might be the root of the communication issues and acknowledged the county administrator serves an important role in county government.
"He updates the county commission and gives them information from meetings he's going to for them," Adams said. "It's working.
"But maybe we need to change the title from administrator to commissioner assistant, but that would be a different pay scale as well."
Adams said he sees some necessary building projects ahead for the county.
Studies, for instance, have been done on expanding the Ellis County jail, and some action on the part of the commission should be taken. There are several options to consider, Adams said.
"Possibly maybe looking at a regional jail," he said. "And I've talked to other sheriffs, and you've got the same problem, you've got to transport these prisoners back and forth, and they don't want to do that either."
Funding for the project, Adams said, likely would be best obtained through a county-wide sales tax, voted upon by taxpayers. Additionally, he said, other building projects need to be addressed.
"The fire department is a problem," he said. "That needs to get built.
"The EMS part ... the $2.2 million is what bothers me ... spending that much money on a building. I would probably go with the half-cent sales tax on that, too. I can't say they're all wrong on that."
Those building projects, together with the remodeling of the Ellis County Courthouse and Commerce Bank building, could add up to a big bill for taxpayers, he said. However, he said he thinks tax dollars can be saved by doing the remodeling projects in phases and by pursuing more bids for equipment purchases and contract services.
"The savings is cutting costs on these buildings that they're wanting to build," he said. "The buildings last for years, but it's like we don't really need top of the line buildings for EMS/fire station ... $2.2 (million) or $3 million sounds like an awful lot to spend on a building that's going to be a metal building, as far as I'm concerned."
For Adams, his experience working with road and bridge inspections will allow him insight into making county decisions.
"I feel like I've got some experience I can really benefit the county," he said. "I feel that you learn a lot just going to meetings and picking up information there.
"There's always going to be some problem for the county to solve, and the commissioners are there to do that job."
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Candidate at a glance
Name: Ron Adams
Education: Fort Hays State University graduate.
Political experience: Has not held public office.
Family: Wife, Elaine. They have four children: Lance Kohl, Sunni Jones, Heath Kohl and Darren Adams, five grandchildren and a great-grandchild.