County to replace old wheel loader

By Maura Wery

A wheel loader from 1989 has seen some better days in the Riley County public works department, and director Leon Hobson told county commissioners Monday that they will soon need a new one.

Hobson showed commissioners photos of the loader, which displayed corrosion from having been stored in the salt shed.

“It has taken its toll on the equipment,” Hobson said.  “The loader is going to have to be red tagged because of the safety issue.”

A public works employee who works with the loader told the commission that it was “really unreliable” and for that reason it rarely leaves the shop. He said the vehicle has “cancerous rust” that has mainly destroyed the hydraulic system underneath.

Commissioners agreed that the department needs a new loader, but they were concerned about cost. Hobson said they weren’t looking to lease a new loader due to increasing lease costs. The other option was to buy the loader outright, at a cost of $150,000. Hobson said money should be left over from the road and bridge budget to pay for the loader.

“There is not a lot of efficiency in always fixing something,” said Commissioner Karen McCulloh. “It is important to know your budget and if you need it and have the funds, go for it.”

Commissioners approved that idea by a vote of 3-0.

ATA breaks record

ATA bus director Ann Smith told the commission that the service had extended its new record for ridership in a calendar year, adding 26,435 riders to its total during October. She also said that the saferide program had 2,034 riders with 572 of those trips being from this past weekend.  Smith said the October total brings the number of rides for the year up to around 121,000, or around 900 rides a day.


Smoke detectors

Emergency Management director Pat Collins said Monday that residents should check the batteries on their smoke detectors.

“Smoke detectors are essential in the early detection of fires,” Collins said.

Collins also wanted those families who use fireplaces to also get their chimney checked for debris before lighting that first fire of the season.

“Get a professional because there are all sorts of things that need to be checked,” Collins said. “With how dry it has been it only takes a small spark for a fire to start.”

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