ELLIS — The Ellis County Commission and Ellis City Council met in joint session Monday evening to discuss ongoing projects and the relationship of the two governing entities.
The meeting was desired by both parties to provide an opportunity for communication, said Ellis Mayor David McDaniel.
“We’re just here to have a nice discussion about different things in the area, in the county,” McDaniel said.
Road and bridge maintenance issues were discussed. County crews are repairing the Baughman bridge located near the city. The bridge was damaged early this fall when a truck exceeding the weight limit damaged the wooden planking.
The deck will be replaced with steel to prevent further damage, and the labor is provided by county public works employees. The total cost will be approximately $25,000.
The county often provides the city with labor assistance for annual street projects, and the city council asked if that would be a possibility again this summer. The council is discussing a small chip-seal project that likely would cover approximately 10 city blocks.
“We’ve had a great working relationship with Ellis County, and I really appreciate that fact,” said Ellis City Council member Alan Scheuerman. “They’ve given us the capability of providing their manpower and equipment to seal streets and help us do some additional work; we wouldn’t have the manpower or the equipment available to do that.”
County officials said they are happy to help when they can. Ellis County Commission Chairperson Barbara Wasinger said decisions about project assistance will be made by the county’s public works department, which expressed a willingness to help the city.
“We are all Ellis County,” Wasinger said. “I wish we had more money and more time — everything — to do much more.”
Public Works Director Bill Ring also noted it has become more difficult for the county to fund large infrastructure improvements due to cuts to state programs.
“They have no grant money,” Ring said of the Kansas Department of Transportation. “There is nothing available unless it’s got a federal tie-in, there’s nothing coming through.”
Officials also discussed updates from several other county departments, including EMS/health services, fire and emergency management and the sheriff’s department.
This was the first in a series of joint meetings the county commission is planning to conduct this year. A meeting with the Hays City Commission has been scheduled for 6 p.m. April 25.