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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Commissioners discuss pipeline, bike safety at meeting

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  • There was standing room only at Monday's Harvey County Commission meeting, with a crowd of community members present to hear about two major — but very different — topics. Dick Sears, director of land and right-of-way with Tallgrass Energy Partners, presented about a proposed pipeline project that would pass through Harvey County. The Tallgrass Pony Express Pipeline (formerly the Kinder Morgan Pony Express Pipeline) originally was built in the 1950s as an oil pipeline, and then was converted to a natural gas pipeline in 1996. The proposed project will convert the Pony Express Pipeline back to transporting oil and will expand the pipeline down through Kansas to Cushing, Okla. The project involves converting 430 miles of existing pipeline from natural gas to oil, as well as constructing a 260-mile pipeline extension. The pipeline will have a volume of an estimated 230,000 to 320,000 barrels per day and will carry light, sweet crude. Construction is slated to begin in the summer of 2013, and it is expected to be in service by the summer of 2014. Sears said the pipeline will be monitored 24/7, and if there is a break in the pipeline, it can be shut down remotely. The company will not have a tax exemption and will be paying county taxes. Marge Roberson suggested Tallgrass return for a special evening meeting so Harvey County landowners could learn more about the proposal. "I think there are still people that have some questions," she said. "... In all fairness, I think the landowners need to be heard, but I think the company should be able to present the information." Members of the ReNewton Bicycle Initiative also appeared before the commission Monday and requested signs promoting bicycle safety be placed on county roads. The group would like to see about 50 traffic signs placed on county roads to remind motorists to look out for bicycles and that by law, motorists must give cyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing them on the road. Jerry Smith with the ReNewton Bicycle Initiative said people ride bikes in Harvey County for a variety of reasons, including for fun, health and transportation, and he believes the signs will benefit those who ride. "We do feel that our request is reasonable and has real value," Smith said. "... Regardless of our reason to ride, we need to be safe." Jim Meier, county Road and Bridge superintendent, estimates signs could cost about $25 each. Commission chair Marge Roberson said she thought the signs were a good idea and encouraged the group to research grants that could help fund the project. "We need to figure out where it's going to fit in our budget," she said.Other businessAt Monday's commission meeting, the Harvey County Commission also appointed Dr. Doyle Detweiler as the public health officer. Detweiler's duties will include assuring appropriate, mandated reporting of diseases; assuring timely and appropriate responses to public health emergencies; and assessing and monitoring public health needs. 

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