All Commissioners present.
Commissioners appointed Randy Martin to the Museum Board of Trustees, Vern Bulk and Wendell Anderson to the Road and Bridge Advisory Board, and Steve Hargrave to the 21st District Judicial Nominating Commission.
Debbie Regester, Register of Deeds, said that her office had a good year for revenue in 2011, especially the last three months. The 30-year-old carpet in her office is now replaced, and she is completing the rearrangements of the space. Now, genealogical research may be made sitting at a table instead of standing at the main counter.
Clancy Holeman, County Counsel, said proposed language for the parking resolution is still in consideration. The courts have asked for 12 passes for each jury after they are finally empanelled, dated from the beginning of the trial (flexible ending date). The Public Defender's Office has requested 5 permits. The magistrate judge, who is present once a week, needs 1 permit. The aim of the new regulations is to clear the parking lot behind the Courthouse for public parking on county business, especially at times when the Treasurer's Office (taxes) and Clerk's Office (advance voting) have high traffic. Rich Vargo said he has checked that parking lot three times a day, and usage varies widely. Some Wareham parkers have been discouraged from parking there. The lot is sometimes half full, and sometimes nearly full. Commissioners agreed by consensus that the court requests should be allowed.
The deadline for the 1/2-cent sales tax question to go on the August ballot is June 1. Language for the question should be fairly clear now, though certain city officials seemed to mistakenly believe the tax was tied to the inter-local agreement, which is not an agreement yet. Commissioners emphasized that the county tax question was not a city question, even though the city would benefit from its passage. The county is clear about its uses of this tax money, as they have been since it was first passed: roads and bridges, construction and maintenance. The city has not clarified what its tax money would be used for. Commissioners discussed the need for more parks, two additional fire stations, preparation for constructing the road leading to another bridge to be built across the Blue River between Riley and Pottawatomi Counties (the last to receive federal aid, it is hoped).
Brad Schoen, Director of the RCPD, updated Commissioners. He said that in the last 20 years, Manhattan had never before experienced a run of homicides such as we have just had. Also, other crimes are also up. He is particularly concerned about the frequency of car thefts that do not turn out to have been a form of illegal "borrowing," in which the car turns up locally. These other thefts are more permanent, with the car probably going to Kansas City or Mexico. When asked about shoplifting, he said large retailers have their own training programs. They get many calls from Wal-Mart, but prosecution usually depends on the dollar amount stolen. Someone suggested that smaller local retailers might be helped by seminars, possibly sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. They are working on finding a new site for the shooting range when the present lease runs out. They discovered that there are only two firms that deal with this. They have contracted the U.S. firm (for $3,000) to come and inspect and analyze a site they think will be suitable. A small group including representatives of the city, county, RCPD, and Law Board will meet and attempt to get a head start on setting up a budget. They have a deadline of Feb. 10th to present it to the Law Board. Fake Patty's Day is apparently to be left to the ABA (Aggieville Business Assoc.) for policy. Commissioners said their main concern is safety. Schoen agreed and added that the expense was also a major consideration. Kansas has a statute that forbids local authorities to enact an ordinance declaring (only) being drunk in public an offense.
Commissioners went into two executive sessions, one each to consider evaluations of department heads: Shelley Williams and Monty Wedel. Evaluations of Greg McHenry and Clancy Holeman were postponed because of lack of time.
Elizabeth Patton, a representative of Senator Moran's office, visited the Commission to ask about any actions the Senator's office might take to help Riley County. The Blue River Bridge project, support for Ft. Riley (assisting soldiers returning, staff for the hospital, and education for children on the Fort) and aid for USD 383 in educating military children were mentioned by Commissioners. They also discussed the HUD grant that forwarded regional planning and the necessity for flexibility in federal rules and regulations, as "one size fits all" is not applicable in many nationwide matters.
Submitted by Lyndal Nyberg