Pottawatomie County’s Reece named Official of Year

By The Mercury

Robert Reece, Pottawatomie County administrator, was named Kansas County Official of the Year during the annual Kansas Association of Counties conference November 13-14, at Topeka.

Reece was recognized for the award Monday during the regular meeting of the Pott County Commission.

The award is presented annually in recognition of “commitment to excellence in county government both within your community and statewide.”

In addition to a plaque, Reece received on behalf of the county a stipend of $1,000 to be awarded to a graduating high school senior in the county. County officials will develop criteria for the financial award and present it in May.

In other business Monday:

• Jeffrey Hancock, SMH Consultants, gave the weekly progress report on the Pott County Justice center under construction at Westmoreland.

“A lot of progress is being made,” Hancock told commissioners. “We had about 100 workers on-site last week, taking advantage of the good weather.”

Hancock replaced Buck Driggs, who resigned recently from SMH.

• Sherri Schuck, county attorney, reported that two of five defendants in an animal cruelty case were convicted on all 10 counts during a jury trial in late October.

Sentencing is scheduled for December 4, and while the maximum penalty is 12 months for each county, Schuck anticipated a lighter sentence because of their lack of previous criminal history.

Three other defendants in the case are scheduled for trial later this year and in early 2013.

• Bruce Brazzle, county fire supervisor, said Fire District 4 at Wheaton is interested in building a new fire station and community center on a lot owned by the city.

The city has no money for the project, and the fire district has a limited budget, Brazzle said.

“I cannot foresee this happening unless we do the consolidation (of fire districts) we’ve been talking about,” Brazzle said. “It would really strap that fire district to put that kind of an expense on them.”

Commissioners urged Brazzle to proceed with the process of fire district consolidation, which would not only save the county money, but would be beneficial to the districts.

Brazzle also said the Kansas Department of Health and Environment no longer allows the burning of old structures, but there is no county resolution for enforcement of the measure.

When an incident occurs, Brazzle said he informs the KDHE and allows the agency to deal with it. Commissioners expressed no wish to adopt a resolution to implement enforcement at the county level.

• Country Carpet, Inc. was the apparent low bidder on a new Emergency Medical Services facility at Westmoreland, a project which was downsized and rebid after original bids were deemed by the commission to be too high.

Country Carpet’s bid was $475,200 for the main building and $96,055 for a second building.

Two other bids were rejected and sent back unopened since they were not submitted by the deadline of 10 a.m. Monday.

“I think you’ll run into problems if you open those other bids,” County Counselor John Watt advised the commission.

The two accepted bids will be reviewed by the county staff for a recommendation to the commission.

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