Commission looking for health dept. head

By Maura Wery

Having received Susie Kuhfal’s resignation this week, Riley County commissioners are now figuring out how to find a new administrator for the Riley County Health Department.

So far, the only option that has been fully pursued is putting the listing up on the county’s website, but the commission is also considering whether to hire a consultant to take their local search to the national level. That consultant would advise the commission on where to place ads and help them find the ideal candidate for the position.

Commissioners Thursday expressed some concern about the timeframe of the job search and who will take over for Kuhfal when her resignation goes into effect April 1. The search that resulted in the hiring of Kufahl took four to five months; if this search takes the same amount of time, the commission will need to find some kind of interim administrator. Commissioners expressed an interest in relying on existing staff, but Kuhfal didn’t know whether any of her current management had enough experience to do so. Commissioners asked Kuhfal to sit down with them to determine whether any were interested in taking on such assignments during the interim. The commission also asked Cindy Volanti to get more information about the practicalities of hiring a consultant. Both will present their findings at Monday’s commission meeting.

Watershed and drainage districts

Commissioners determined Thursday to tread lightly the next time a request for a watershed or drainage district is requested. County counselor Clancy Holeman met with the commission to talk about the pros and cons of the districts, noting that once one is created the district will be outside their control. Holeman said the districts could have immense power in areas such as taxing and eminent domain, and could set their own boundaries, with no input for the county. Along with concern over intrusion of third parties permitted by the EPA, that prompted commissioners to decide that, for the time being, they will have to deal with the flooding around Wildcat Creek in some different fashion.

“I thought creating a watershed district and including parts of Manhattan would really help get something accomplished,” Commissioner Ron Wells said. “But I don’t like the EPA stands and I don’t like not being able to have some control. I don’t know how we are going to control flooding, but this isn’t it.”

The other commissioners also shared Wells’ concern and wanted to approach Sen. Jerry Moran and Rep. Tim Huleskamp about pushing legislation to put commissions back in control of the districts. But for the time being, the county will shy away from such projects.


RCPD range

Due to continuing complications with the landowner of the current Riley County Police Department range, RCPD Director Brad Schoen asked the commission to consider a $3.5 million new facility in its CIP budget for 2013.

Schoen said the current facility’s contract had issues with outside organizations, such as Pottawatomie County, coming into their range with RCPD to conduct exercises and also had issues with ricocheting bullets. Schoen also said that the facility needed to be updated in order to meet current safety standards. Because of these factors, Schoen and other RCPD administrators met with outside firms to create a proposal for a range that could be built near the county’s transfer station on Hunter’s Island.

Schoen acknowledged that the $3.5 million cost seems like a lot, but suggested it be spread out over a few years, with a new range ready when the current range contract ends in 2019.

Commissioners liked the idea, but expressed concerns about the cost.

“I’m okay with leaving it in the CIP but I don’t want to make it an emergency,” Wells said. The commission wanted to look at a 10 to 15 year plan rather than the 2019 plan. The commission also wanted to sit down with both the range owner and the RCPD and see whether their differences could be worked out.

Schoen agreed to sit down with Holeman and the landowner to see whether the revisions to the contract and concerns could be rectified.

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