Following the shooting that occurred in Las Vegas Sunday night, leading county commissioner Chip Westfall to open this week's commission meeting by sharing his heartfelt thoughts for the people of that community, a prescient agenda item was discussed on Monday.
"Every incident brings a new perspective on active killers in the environments we live in," said Emergency Management Director Gary Denny.
Denny commended the commission for its continued support, from training to taking part in focus group discussions, in dealing with such incidents. With Harvey County experiencing its own active shooter incident last year, community partners have been hard at work making preparations if another such event should occur. Part of that includes drafting official policies, which administration brought before the commission on Monday.
The active killer response policy is intended to line up across partner agencies, something Assistant County Administrator Dan Bronson alluded to as he worked with the city of Newton on its policy and noted the county's policy is 95 percent similar to that (with methods of communication being the main variance).
Bronson and Denny worked on the policy and while it was noted the intent was to give both employees and customers flexibility in how to respond when faced with an active killer situation, the policy is also meant to have some uniformity to assist law enforcement and Fire/EMS in their response, wherever that may be.
"This particular policy today includes those bare necessities that the active shooter focus group identified that we want to be prevalent in our education facilities, our health care facilities and our government facilities, in addition to all facilities countywide," Denny said. "These same principles can be applied wherever you're at — Wal-Mart, the hospital, in the courthouse and education facilities. It's a common approach countywide that we're trying to accomplish."
Bronson noted that this policy is also very much in line with what the county already has in place (i.e. fire response) and is planning for in the future — including a bomb threat policy — to make the courthouse and each department safer, more secure and prepared for the unknown.
Commissioners noted their support for the policy, but questioned what would happen if there were employees who didn't agree and didn't sign the policy. County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber stated that the plan is to eventually incorporate the policy, like most, into the employee manual and have individuals sign off on receiving the policies.
Even if employees don't agree with the entirety of the policy, Bronson noted the fluidity of the approach in this policy should allow those individuals to find some way to respond that falls in line with the county's purview.
"This policy and ALICE in general, it's non-sequential," Bronson said. "It's designed to give employees the most options in what they personally feel and believe. The nice thing about all this is it can conform to that, their beliefs and how they choose to respond in an event."
Harvey County's active killer response policy was approved unanimously by the commissioners.
In other business, the county commission:
Learned of an agreement being finalized for Halstead to provide emergency medical services for the city of Sedgwick for a term of three years.
Received a recommendation to the Central Kansas Regional Solid Waste Authority, with Dana Shifflett volunteering to fill the county's open position.
Discussed the itinerary for Columbus Day (Oct. 9), with the courthouse being open from 8 to 8:30 a.m. before closing for employee inservice. In the session, benefits for county employees will be discussed while flu shots will be available and there will also be training for active killer incidents in the afternoon.
Was informed of the Farm Bureau's upcoming annual dinner/meeting on Oct. 16, with RSVPs requested. All three county commissioners indicated they would be attending.
Approved a one-year extension of the agreement for audit services for Harvey County with Lindburg Vogel Pierce Faris, waiving purchasing policy. The fee ($36,000 plus expenses) would be the same as the current year.
Approved the purchase of a Hustler mower from Excel Industries for the Solid Waste Department, at a total cost of $11,762.60, waiving purchasing policy.
Recommended leaving delegates the same for the annual KCAMP meeting, with commissioner Randy Hague filling the role of voting delegate and county clerk Rick Piepho serving as his alternate.
Heard an update on discussion between the Parks Department and Mainprize Industries LLC regarding a long-term contract for the Conquer the Gauntlet event, with Aug. 4 being thrown out as a potential date for the event in the future. It was noted that would be the same weekend as the Harvey County Fair. Parks Director Kass Miller also noted vegetation is being removed from park roads and will be burned at a later date.
Was informed by Health Department Director Lynnette Redington of coordination between the Harvey County Resource Council members to bring trauma-informed training to the community this week.
Received a request from citizen Kelsea Abney to intervene in a road maintenance issue around her home (currently in development) at 7335 N. Osage. Abney noted she has been working with Walton Township to get rock on the road along her house and was told she had to pay $2,000 before the township would address the issue. Upon paying the money, she said the township laid rock on the northern portion of the road, but not the southern portion. Due to transportation, as well as flooding, issues for her family and other vehicles (i.e. Westar trucks, school buses, etc.) that use that road she came to the county requesting that road be addressed. As the county does not have authority over that road, the commission recommended Abney talk with Marion County (which alternates authority with Walton Township on that stretch of road) and take a number of representatives from those who would be affected with her to speak before the Walton Township board.
Adopted a more robust substance abuse and drug and alcohol-free workplace policy following a request from a partner grant agency.