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Pottawatomie County, Manhattan to discuss water options for Blue Township

By The Mercury

Pottawatomie County Commissioners will meet this Thursday with representatives of Rural Water District 1 and the city of Manhattan to discuss future water options for the rapidly developing area just east of Manhattan.

Blue Township––the fastest growing area in the county––is served by both the county-owned Timbercreek Water District and RWD 1. The Timbercreek Water District serves 287 hookups in the Timbercreek residential subdivisions.

Both districts have exceeded their water appropriations the past two years, and they are expected to exceed that appropriation again this year due to both increasing demand and the continuing drought.

“In essence, you need to find more water,” Robert Reece, county administrator, told commissioners Monday, in preparation for Thursday’s meeting. “To keep things growing down there you need more water.”

One option discussed briefly was to make an arrangement with the city of Manhattan to supply water to the area. The city now treats wastewater from the county-owned Blue Township Sewer District, an agreement which was consummated a couple of years ago.

In other business Monday:

• Lee Ann Desper of the United Way of Riley County asked permission to allow Pott County employees to make United Way contributions through payroll deduction.

“The need is growing,” Desper told commissioners. “There are fewer federal and state funds available and our donors are going by the wayside. We need to reach out to younger people who are employed to give through payroll deduction.”

The United Way of Riley County will change its name in January to the United Way of the Flint Hills to better reflect its service area of Riley, Pottawatomie, Clay, Washington and Marshall Counties, as well as the western portion of Wabaunsee County.

Deb Kiker of Community Health Ministry, based at Wamego, said CHM will become a United Way agency in January, receiving funding for its annual summer lunch program and for mental health services.

CHM has served more than 8,000 lunches since its summer lunch program began five years ago. It also began mental health services five years ago, and last year served about 600 patients.

“People come to us in crisis,” Kiker said.

Commissioners asked the United Way representatives to meet with Crystal Malchose, Pott County Human Resources director, about a payroll deduction plan. Malchose will then make a recommendation to the commission.

• Jeff Hancock of SMH Consultants said he hopes the new Pott County Justice Center will be completely “weathered in” by late December.

“If we can get that done, that would be a substantial milestone in the project,” Hancock said.

In his weekly update, Hancock also said a 20-foot portion of one interior masonry wall will be torn down and rebuilt due to a gap in the rebar. The gap was discovered recently when the structural engineer ordered a scan of all masonry walls.

A full report from the engineer on scans of other walls is expected later this week, Hancock said, adding that the scans and reconstruction are the contractor’s expense, not the county’s.

Hancock also introduced Trisha Fruendt of SMH who will begin next month inspecting the justice center project and making weekly reports to the commission.

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