Pottawatomie County’s emergency director helps out in Harveyville

By The Mercury

If a tornado ever ravages a community in Pottawatomie County, Chris Trudo will know what to expect in the aftermath.

Trudo, director of the county’s Emergency Management Department, assisted in recovery efforts after a Feb. 28 tornado destroyed much of the small community of Harveyville in Wabaunsee County. He shared that experience Monday with Pott County Commissioners.

“I got on-scene about an hour and a half after it hit,” Trudo said. “It’s literally chaos that goes on, and it was a very, very good experience for me.”

Trudo said Harveyville is similar in size to Belvue in Pott County. He showed commissioners an aerial view of the destruction, as well as photos of the rescue efforts and subsequent cleanup.

“I arrived while it was still dark,” Trudo said. “When it got light the next morning, the damage was a lot worse than I expected it to be. I was very happy with the way everything went,” he said of the recovery.

Trudo was one of several department heads who gave monthly updates Monday.

• Lisa Wright, treasurer, said delinquent tax notices were mailed last week — about 900 real estate and 500 personal property notices.

“That’s a little less than last year,” she said.

Wright said the treasurer’s office will be closed from 8-9 a.m. Thursday, April 5, for a statewide test of the new motor vehicle computer system. The new system will “go live” May 1, and that portion of her office may be closed to the public May 1-9.

• Lois Schlegel, appraiser, said the 2011 preliminary real estate appraisal sales ratio for Pott County was excellent for residential property, but “not real good” for commercial.

The median ratio for residential property was 97.9 percent, while the median for commercial was 82.5 percent.

“We were under-appraised on those (commercial) properties — the 10 that did sell,” Schlegel said, noting that the diversity of sale prices between the northern and southern portions of the county make it difficult to attain a median ratio in the 90-110 percent range required by the state.

New construction for 2012 totaled $26,317,280 — well below the $43,419,500 in new construction for 2011, Schlegel said.

“We had a lot of new commercial construction last year,” she said. “I anticipate that figure to go back up with the new Caterpillar building.”

Caterpillar Work Tools of Wamego is currently erecting a 40,000-square-foot building on its campus in Wamego Industrial Park.

• Sherri Schuck, county attorney, and Andrea Karnes said the number of reports are up, but her office has filed fewer cases this year compared to 2011.

“I think our office has a real good relationship with the people we contract with and with the local attorneys,” Schuck said. “We try to settle things before it goes to litigation. That really helps.”

For the month of February, the county attorney’s office filed 30 criminal cases, 47 traffic, nine juvenile offender, one child in need of care, and two cases for care and treatment, according to Karnes.

In other business Monday:

• John Watt, county counselor, said he has a meeting this Thursday to finalize procedures for the tax foreclosure sale scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 30, in the county courthouse at Westmoreland.

• Leu Lowrey, public works director, said the Kansas Department of Transportation has asked for another traffic study at the corner of Excel Road and U.S. Highway 24.

Depending on the results of the study, KDOT may decide to do more extensive improvements to the intersection to enhance flow during peak traffic periods.

The current improvement project is scheduled to go to bid sometime this summer. Expanded improvements could delay the project a year, Lowrey said.

• The commission approved an eight percent price increase for the contract with Vic Redding to mow and trim nine county cemeteries. Redding requested the increase due to the price of fuel.

• The commission approved $400 for the after-prom party at Onaga High School and the St. George youth summer ball program.

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