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County to pay for care of abused horses

By The Mercury

Pottawatomie County commissioners Monday agreed to pay an additional $1,840 for temporary care of two horses taken from their owners in a pending animal cruelty case.

The payment brings to $5,120 the total amount paid by the county for care of the animals, still in the care of a private landowner in Pott County.

The two horses were taken from their owners last year by the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Department after they were found to be severely malnourished.

Two other horses belonging to the owners died and four others were deemed not to be in need of immediate medical care, Jason Oxford, assistant county attorney, told commissioners Monday.

Five co-defendants in the case are charged with 10 counts of animal cruelty and will face those charges in Pottawatomie County District Court in three separate trials, the first of which begins next week.

Marcia and Derek Toy are scheduled for jury trial Monday and Tuesday, October 29-30; Derrick and Amanda Hoke, November 29-30; and Kayla Paz, January 3-4, 2013, according to the county attorney’s office.

In reviewing the case with commissioners Monday, Oxford said the county attorney’s office would seek full restitution for the county’s expense in caring for the two horses.

In response to a query by Commissioner Stan Hartwich, Oxford and Andrea Karnes, office manager, said one juvenile has been charged in a past arson fire at Onaga, and has made a first appearance in court.

Karnes said she would obtain further information on the case for Hartwich.

In other business Monday, Buck Driggs of SMH Consultants, gave commissioners a weekly progress update on the Pott County Justice Center under construction at Westmoreland.

“Overall, things are going really well,” Driggs said. “We’ve had a couple of weeks of good progress with the nice weather.”

Driggs said two of three elevator shafts and 95 percent of the block walls in the basement are completed, and masons are currently working in the kitchen and booking area for the jail portion of the structure.

In addition, the remainder of the structural steel for the second floor is expected to be up this week.

Driggs is also working with the city of Westmoreland on options for a possible downtown streetscape project.

The Westmoreland City Council voted 3-2 recently to pursue an 80/20 grant for the project through the Kansas Department of Transportation, but still hasn’t decided the scope of the potential project.

“Who knows where the KDOT funding is going,” Driggs said. “It may not be there next year, it may not be there next week, but they’re giving it out now and they (Westmoreland) may not have this opportunity again.”

Driggs said the council members who voted against pursuing the grant questioned if investing in a streetscape project was the best use of city funds.

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