Joan Strickler, observer
All Commissioners present, Lewis presiding.
In casual discussion at the beginning of the meeting it was mentioned that, contrary to recent accounts of public opposition, the board members of Manhattan’s Chamber of Commerce appear to have no problem with the concept of establishing a public building commission.
Brenda Nickel, Health Department Director, presented information compiled by Kansas Action for Children. The statistics for Riley County cause concern in the area of infant mortality. The rate in the county exceeds that of the state and its peers. Riley County’s infant mortality rate was 7.65% per 1000 births compared to the state rate of 6.07% and peer rate of 5.58%.
Riley County also falls behind in high school graduation rates. During the 2011-2012 school year only seventy-six percent of high school students graduated which is nearly eight percent lower than that of both the state and peer counties. Nearly seventeen percent of Riley County children live below the poverty level.
John Armbrust, with the Governor’s Military Council, expressed concern that funding uncertainty has left Ft. Riley without a clue as to what its operating budget will be. He said cuts are made at the federal level with little information regarding the effects on local bases and communities.
Some areas of the country are establishing Veterans Courts to deal with domestic abuse cases in an effort to get combat veterans into treatment rather than prisons. Armbrust did not address the issue of protection provided for the abused person through Veterans Courts.
EMS Director Larry Couchman presented a review of potential building sites for a new, comprehensive EMS building. All of the Fire Department locations were considered as well as Pioneer Part, Cico Park and KSU owned land along College, Denison and Kimball. The County Shop site offers another possibility but presents the problem of increased response time for heavy demand areas in Manhattan. Commissioner Lewis said he was opposed to Pioneer Park. The park is located adjacent to the historic Goodnow House and the Riley County Historical Museum and is considered part of that total historical preservation site.
County Counselor Clancy Holeman mentioned several legislative issues being lobbied for strongly by the realtor’s association and bankers association. Their positions would result in loss in fees now collected by counties and result in a heavy negative impact on county budgets.