Discussion from recent meetings of the Harvey County public/private partnership (including city, county, economic development and local business representation) spilled over into Monday's county commission meeting as Newton Vice Mayor Barth Hague and Pam Stevens, Executive Director of the Newton Chamber of Commerce, presented a request on behalf of the partnership for funding to assist in providing baseline training targeting substance abuse prevention for all the county communities.
A training program is currently offered by Mirror Inc. and has been utilized in Newton and Burrton, which Hague noted is a "tried and true, evidence-based" program for communities interested in dealing with substance abuse issues effectively. An added benefit is that through the training program, Mirror Inc. works to build coalitions for substance abuse prevention, which could help the county earn grant money down the road.
Stevens noted after a training session with the Newton school district and hearing from superintendent Deb Hamm about issues in the schools, it provided some clarity about how important it is to be proactive instead of reactive and providing training for the rest of the county communities became that much more of a priority.
Currently, Stevens noted the partnership has collected $2,750 in donations from various local entities and the commissioners had similar feelings in support of the plan.
"To me, you spend a dollar in prevention, it saves you $2 or $3 down the road, so I'm on board with this," said commissioner Randy Hague.
Barth Hague noted the plan is to start offering training in the fall with three or four different events. After hearing the request, the commission approved a $1,000 donation to the chamber for the drug and alcohol abuse baseline training.
In other business, the county commission:
Was informed of some key upcoming meetings from County Administrator John Waltner, including the county budget session scheduled for this Thursday and a joint economic development meeting with the Economic Development Committee and City of Newton on July 19 from 3 to 4:30 p.m.
Learned of some changes to property law in the House substitute for Senate Bill 280 from county appraiser Craig Clough, including the fact that liens on personal property will no longer follow buyers, tax appeals can now go to local district courts for judicial review and more.
Heard from Sheriff T. Walton of an outpouring of community support last Friday, including calls to the office and food donations, following the events in Dallas. The commission also learned of a transfer of one deputy to the Newton Police Department, creating a job opening in the sheriff's office. Walton noted there is currently one certified candidate, but the department would be required to pay the agency that trained him for that service.
Was informed of the upcoming Equus Walnut Regional Advisory Committee meeting at the Harvey County Health Department (215 S. Pine St.) on July 20, which will focus on continued action plan development for regional water supply goals.
Learned of some events scheduled at the city/county airport, including an event for the South Central Kansas Mustang Club this Saturday and a tenant appreciation BBQ the county commission was invited to on Sept. 29 by airport manager Brian Palmer.
Was notified by Emergency Management Director Gary Denny that a preliminary damage meeting has been held with KDEMS in regards to the heavy rains in May and he was also informed that an application process for aid is also open for July now as well and estimates are due by Friday.
Heard an update from Parks Director Kass Miller about discussions with FEMA to improve a road at West Park that is at high risk during flooding and was just reopened this past weekend and he noted they are also in contact with Excat to hopefully start work on the shower house at West Park this week.
Met with county financial director Anthony Swartzendruber to go over the second quarter financial report, which was brief as Swartzendruber said a lot of the information has been included in the 2017 budget documents, noting revenues are currently meeting total projections.
Discussed the bidding process for Bridge Q16-9 after only one bid was received. Road and Bridge Superintendent Jim Meier noted there were some issues getting information out as well as certain scheduling dates tied to the bid relating to the availability of steel beams. MKEC Engineering recommended taking a step back and approving the design and request for bid once again before publishing it and setting another bid opening date. The commission cancelled and rejected the submitted bids because of improper announcement, returning bids received, and approved MKEC to proceed with a new bid announcement that would include a due date of Aug. 5—with bids to be opened on Aug. 8. The commissioners also noted they were in favor of having contractors submit a schedule with their bids.