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Road may get a status upgrade

By Bryan Richardson

Riley County established new guidelines for the minimum level of service for county roads Thursday, an action that is expected to lead to at least one road being put under county control.

Leon Hobson, county public works director, said at Thursday’s county commission meeting that he’ll likely discuss with the board in a couple of weeks about changing Wildcat Creek Road from a township road to a county road.

Wildcat Creek Road is a gravel township road that generally runs southwest from Scenic Drive to Fort Riley Boulevard near Manhattan Regional Airport. Its condition has been the topic of debate in a larger county question related to the operation of the Prairiewood Facility in that same area. Prairiewood is on Wildcat Creek Road.

Under the old guidelines, a change in status from township road to county road would have been unlikely because it would have cost $1 million per mile to bring the road up to the standards set for a county road.

But the new guidelines add new classes of road that allow for a more gradual — and therefore less costly — upgrade than was possible under the old guidelines. Hobson said he didn’t have a price estimate for moving the road to county control yet.

Earlier in the morning session, the commissioners appointed the county clerk’s office as the place providing free assistance to people applying for a free certified copy of their birth certificate from the Kansas Office of Vital Statistics for the purpose of voting registration.

This is being done in advance of the state Voter ID law’s full implementation. Perhaps as soon as June 15 but definitely in 2013, anyone registering to vote for the first time in Kansas will have to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship with items such as a birth certificate or passport.

Request forms are prescribed by the Office of Vital Statistics. The county clerk will send the form to the vital statistics office via mail, fax or email after receiving a completed form.

Also, the county commissioners signed a letter expressing their opinion that the local government’s portion of Kansas Public Employees Retirement System should be kept separate and operated under current rules. KPERS changes are currently being considered in the state legislature.

The board is advising the Kansas Association of Counties and the League of Kansas Municipalities to lobby this position together.

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