Sheriff beefs up presence on Bigelow

By The Mercury

The Pottawatomie Sheriff’s Department will beef up patrols on Bigelow Road where traffic has increased due to bridge construction on a nearby road.

The county commission Monday asked Sheriff Greg Riat to run extra patrols in higher-traffic morning and evening hours as an added precaution for the rural road just west of Westmoreland.

Earlier in the meeting, the commission adopted a resolution reducing the speed limit on Bigelow from 55 to 45 miles per hour from the Flush Road intersection to Highway 13.

“I would even think 40 would be appropriate, but if we don’t have the presence of the sheriff there it’s all for naught,” said Commissioner Pat Weixelman.

The commission approved the reduction in speed on the recommendation of Leu Lowrey, public works director, who said most, but not all, motorists are “driving a reasonable speed” since work began on the Wilson Creek Bridge Monday, June 17.

The bridge, located on Westmoreland Road just north of Bigelow, is being replaced, with construction expected to last about four months.

In anticipation of heavier traffic on Bigelow, commissioners authorized upgrades to the roadway, including installation of wider drainage structures and applying dust control in certain areas to improve visibility.

In other business Monday:

• Lowrey told commissioners he would solicit a proposal from Valley Moving, Wamego, to relocate the sheriff’s annex to the public works shop area after completion of the new justice center.

Lowrey said the local moving company had not responded to an original inquiry made several months ago, so a Wichita firm was contacted for the relocation of the building.

“We have some local people who do this, and I just think we should give them an opportunity,” said Weixelman, who had been contacted by Valley Moving.

• The commission received a 2014 budget request from Austin Sexten, Pott County Extension agent. Extension’s 2014 request is $185,841, the same as in 2013.

“It’s flat. We like to see that,” said Commissioner Stan Hartwich of the 2014 request.

Sexten said his office is saving money by moving away from paper communications, such as monthly newsletters, and sending them electronically. The Extension office has also done away with its fax line, he said.

Sexten said there are 332 youths in the county involved in 4-H this year, a 12 percent increase over the previous year. The biggest and fastest growing 4-H project, he added, is photography.

• Riat gave commissioners a brief overview of the Country Stampede, scheduled for June 27-30, below Tuttle Creek Dam.

The most important message for those planning to attend the Stampede, he said, is to have an individual severe weather plan and to refrain from under-age drinking.

“There aren’t enough (storm) shelters to accommodate the number of people there, so you have to have a plan if you go down there,” Riat said.

As for under-age drinking he said, “If you’re under 21 and you’re drinking, we go out of our way to make contact with you.”

Riat invited commissioners to tour the Stampede site prior to the beginning of the four-day event this Thursday.

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