Annual measures were carried out by the Harvey County Commissioners at their meeting on Monday, particularly regarding the Health and Road and Bridge departments, including the following highlights:

1) Health rankings analyzed

With the state recently releasing its annual health rankings for nearly all (103) counties in Kansas, Health Department Director Lynnette Redington was on hand to review the report with the county commissioners.

Redington noted the data didn't change too much from past years, with little movement for Harvey County among its health factors ranking, though she did call attention to the rosy standing the county is in when it comes to clinical care (ranking third in Kansas).

Another factor where there is an emphasis is poor mental/physical health days, which have gone up slightly, partly attributing to the county ranking 48th in quality of life. Redington expects that to change in the coming year given some of the focal points of the community health improvement plan.

"We're gonna get better on that for sure," Redington said.

One other category of particular note was the sexually transmitted disease infection rate. While numbers are up, Redington said the department has been getting out in front of the issue by doing a lot of outreach on the Bethel and Hesston College campuses. Grants have also facilitated more of that outreach — with one from the state allowing the department to restart HIV testing this year.

Numbers may not have changed too dramatically, but Redington noted the rankings do show some progress in relation to the road map the county is setting out.

"It just kind of justifies our community health needs assessment," Redington said. "We're on the right track."

2) Bridging the gap

Another annual practice the commission took on Monday was the exchange of federal funds for state funding through the Kansas Department of Transportation to help with projects of the Harvey County Road and Bridge Department — most notably in regards to bridge repairs.

On top of those federal funds dwindling (though there was a slight increase of about $2,300 this year), the exchange rate took a hit as well this year, dropping from 90 percent to 75 percent. Whereas $453,218.75 was available to exchange in 2011 (with a potential reimbursement of $407,896.88), only $229,526.68 is available to exchange in 2018 with a potential reimbursement of $172,145.01.

"Unless we find another source...this is going to affect how often we handle bridge repairs in the county," said County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber.

Commissioners questioned if the county would come out ahead if it retained the federal funds for bridge projects, but Road and Bridge Superintendent Jim Meier noted using those funds requires more work — meaning a $1 million bridge may end up costing $1.3 million — and any scheduled project also can't start without the involvement of KDOT.

While there was some displeasure voiced over the drop in exchange rate, the commission ultimately approved the application to exchange federal funds, which will be used in a similar fashion in 2018 as they have been in the past.

"My intent is to use this money on a bridge replacement this year," Meier said.

3) Concerns raised during latest round of bidding

With the county set to open bids for three UTVs for both the Parks and Solid Waste departments on Monday, a troubling trend popped up by the second bid — the issue of whether the bid met specifications was immediately called into question.

"Vendors need to figure this out eventually," Swartzendruber said.

In the past couple of months, there have been multiple issues with bids requiring department heads and staff to clarify details pertaining to the bids before a decision is made. Such was the case with the five bids received for the UTVs, as the commission accepted the bids for staff to review — something Swartzendruber stated was a necessity given the number of items that were unclear in the latest round of bid openings.

In other business, the county commission:

Discussed the burn ban put into effect last week, given the rain over the weekend, with Emergency Management Director Gary Denny recommending the ban stay in effect.
Was updated on commission chair Randy Hague's health status after suffering a heart attack last Wednesday. Hague commended the great work of local EMTs and the wonderful job they did making sure he got the necessary medical treatment.
Heard a report on the discussion topics of the last Council of Goverments meeting, while the low attendance was also noted. Swartzendruber was tasked with reaching out to the other county communities to discuss continued participation.
Received a flyer from Workforce Area I listing services available as well as hours and contact information, a request from the county, while Swartzendruber noted a draft agreement for joint coverage has been submitted from Workforce Area I to Workforce Area IV.
Approved the reappointments of Lynne Vigil, Trinity Muth and Phil Kimerer to the planning commission for three year terms, waiving the second reading.
Approved Resolution 2018-9 authorizing the sheriff's office to sell two forfeiture vehicles on Purple Wave.
Learned that the new CAD/mobile date terminal for 911 Communications will go live on Tuesday, while Communications Director Don Gruver also noted the 911 Coordinating Council has put out information on some revised amendments to the 911 act (including changes in wording and the figures tied to fee increases).
Was updated on work at the Camp Hawk reservation shelter, which is getting a lot of rentals (and generating good feedback). Parks Director Kass Miller noted the next phase of the plan is to scrape the exterior and repaint it soon in preparation for the installation of new windows. Camp Hawk will also be hosting the annual Easter Egg Hunt at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Received notice from the Health Department that it would be receiving $7,000 through grant funding to help with phone/internet costs.
Approved the Health Department's local grant application to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which requests an increase in funds of about $50,000 this year.
Approved advertisements to bid for road and bridge work, including 17.6 miles of road to be addressed in the Hot Mix Asphalt overlay program and repairs to bridge M-17.6 as part of the RCB Replacement Program.