The Pottawatomie County Commission on Monday endorsed an estimated $1.5 million in expenditures from its share of federal funds allocated through the CARES Act.

The proposed expenditures are expected to be reimbursed from the $4.9 million allocated to Pott County through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act passed by Congress earlier this year.

Proposed county projects range from upgrading a radio communications tower, to purchasing equipment for Emergency Medical Services, to remodeling bathrooms in the County Office Building.

The projects must be “substantially complete” by the end of this year in order to qualify for reimbursement through the CARES Act, according to Andrea Umscheid, operations officer.

Pott County’s $4.9 million allocation was based on $202.26 per person for the county’s certified population of 24,383 as of July 1.

The total allocation is to be distributed throughout the county as follows: $999,516 for cities, $1,017,570 for school districts, $400,000 for businesses, $1,091,166 for county reimbursements, and $1,423,455 for the county plan––a list of proposed expenditures submitted by department heads.

In other business Monday:

• The commission rejected all bids submitted August 31, for improvements to the intersection of Green Valley Rd. and U.S. Highway 24, east of Manhattan.

The four bids submitted were more than 20 percent higher than the engineer’s estimate of $3,314,136, with the apparent low bid of $4,029,984 submitted by Hamm Construction, Perry.

State statute requires governmental units to reject bids more than 10 percent above an engineer’s estimate, according to Peter Clark, public works director.

Additional discussions with the Kansas Department of Transportation will be necessary before a recommendation is made about rebidding the project, Clark said.

• Ebert Construction, Wamego, was apparent low bidder on a project to improve the intersection of Crown-C Circle, just west of Green Valley Rd. on Highway 24.

Ebert’s bid of $1,311,355 was below the engineer’s estimate of $1,530,050. Amino Brothers of Kansas City also submitted a bid for the project.

The project, funded in part through a grant through the Kansas Department of Transportation, will include extension of a frontage road on the south side of the highway and realignment of the intersection to improve access to businesses.

Clark had originally hoped the projects at the Crown-C Circle and Green Valley intersections could be done simultaneously to minimize the length of traffic interruption.

Clark said he will review the bids and make a recommendation to the commission September 21.

• The commission adopted a resolution to execute a contract with the Kansas Department of Health & Environment to clean up an illegal dump site at 4745 Blackjack Rd., north of Highway 24.

Under the contract, the county will clean up the site and seek reimbursement from KDHE for 75 percent of the cost up to $10,000, according to Scott Schwinn, sanitarian.

The site on Blackjack Rd. is one of two sites identified in 2019 as illegal dump sites in the county. The second site, located at Blaine, was cleaned up by the property owner and has been deemed by KDHE to be in compliance with state law.

• A motion to make drainage improvements in the Black Jack Estates Subdivision died for lack of a second.

Commissioners Pat Weixelman and Greg Riat said they first wanted to view the erosion issues in the subdivision just north of the intersection of Flush Rd. and Highway 24.

It was stated at the August 31 meeting that drainage tubes in the southern portion of the subdivision are insufficient to carry the amount of runoff from a heavy rain, causing erosion problems.

SMH Consultants, Manhattan, was identified as the design engineer who made the recommendation for the size of tubes.

In a subsequent letter to the county, however, Jeffrey Hancock of SMH said his firm developed the design according to county standards when the subdivision was planned in 2014.

“SMH does not feel responsible for the perceived issues noted within the subdivision,” Hancock said. “Pipe sizing has been checked and verified utilizing commonly practiced methodologies, design was developed according to the County Standards at the time, and ultimately the design was accepted and approved by the County’s Director of Public Works.”

“I appreciated his letter,” said Commission Chair Dee McKee. “I think there was a lot of clarification in there.”

• The commission approved purchase and installation of a water heater for the justice center at a total cost of $48,000.

This is second of two water heaters to break down at the facility in the past few weeks, according to Scott Campbell, buildings supervisor.

Both incidents have been reported to the county’s insurance carrier, which is investigating the matter, according to Counselor John Watt.

• The commission approved a proposal from Thermal Comfort Air to replace the glycol in the justice center’s geothermal system at a cost of $45,600.

The system has been operational since 2012, and the replacement should make the system good for another 10 years, according to TCA representatives.

• The commission approved an in-ground lift system for the new fleet maintenance facility at a cost of $109,000.

The system was originally budgeted for the facility.