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County could sue over lack of plants

By The Mercury

WESTMORELAND — Pottawatomie County commissioners Monday directed the administrative staff to threaten legal action — if necessary — to get landscaping around the new justice center completed.

Heavy rainfall Sunday morning washed mud across sidewalks and into a street east of the new building, where final grading and grass seeding has yet to take place.

Storm water also ran under the north door of the jail where the ground still slopes toward the building.

“It just looks like hell over there, it really does,” said commissioner Pat Weixelman, who expressed frustration last week with the lack of landscaping work.

“That building has been done since August,” Weixelman said. “If it takes legal threats to do it, I want to see some action. I just don’t understand it. I just think it’s time we put the hammer down on them.”

County Counselor John Watt said he would collaborate with administrator Robert Reece to compel the contractor to complete the exterior work around the justice center.

In other business Monday, the commission:

• Voted 2-1 to accept the low bid of CTI, Wamego, for two John Deere UTVs (Utility Task Vehicles) for use by rural fire departments in fighting grass fires.

Brazzle said he awarded the bid last Tuesday after rewriting the vehicle specifications from an initial bid letting earlier this month. 

At the April 14 meeting, Brazzle told commissioners that it was his mistake in not including vehicle speed and horsepower in the original bid specs.

“I learned a great deal by doing this, and when I rewrite the bid specs I’ll be much more specific,” Brazzle said at the earlier meeting.

The rebidding raised issues with KanEquip of Wamego, which originally submitted the low bid for two Kubota UTVs.

KanEquip submitted proposals for larger vehicles in the second bid, according to Brazzle. 

“Next time I’d like to get the ducks in a row a little tighter, so we don’t get into this,” said Weixelman, who voted against awarding the bid for the John Deere Gators.

“Next time we go out to bid I want to be sure we’re all on the same page.”

“That’s why I came to you on the 14th. I admitted I screwed up, Brazzle said. “I want speed there for emergencies when they (firefighters) need to get out and get out fast. This is what I’ve put together for what I want for my consolidated departments.”

Commissioners Stan Hartwich and Gary Yenzer voted for Brazzle’s recommendation, noting that vehicles with greater speed and horsepower can be critical in fighting grass fires.

• Approved a recommendation by Leu Lowrey, public works director, to allow an electrical easement across county property for Farmers Union Co-op to serve a new grain bin being installed near the intersection of U.S. Highway 24 and Excel Rd., east of Manhattan.

Lowrey also said engineers with the Truesdell Corporation were to be in the county Tuesday of this week, analyzing the suitability of the Belvue Bridge for a concrete polyester overlay.

Commissioners from both Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee Counties authorized the analysis late last year, after Truesdell officials conducted a visual inspection of the bridge.

“Basically, the whole analysis will answer the question that needs to be answered: Is the lightweight concrete in good enough condition for our polyester overlay?” Mark LeMay of Truesdell told commissioners in late November.

The polyester overlay would cost the counties anywhere from $1.5 to $3 million, Truesdell estimated.

The only other option is to replace the entire span at an estimated cost of $13 million.

Results of the engineering analysis are expected to be available in several weeks, according to Lowrey.

• Watt told commissioners a tax foreclosure sale has been tentatively scheduled for 10 a.m. June 20, in the old courthouse at Westmoreland. 

Watt also said a Memorandum of Understanding for improvements to Excel Rd. has been signed by representatives of MCM Properties and REES Development, developers who own property along the roadway north of U.S. Highway 24.

The commission approved the revised agreement earlier this month.

• Chris Trudo, emergency management director, said he received no reports of wind damage or accidents due to Sunday morning’s storm. 

Although there was no flood damage, Rock Creek at Louisville and Black Jack Creek at St. George rose very rapidly after the storm, and there was water across Excel Rd. east of Manhattan, according to Trudo. 

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