Stefanie Cope

Staff Writer

Beachner Construction, of Parsons, asked the Cherokee County Commission Monday for help in opening a new landfill for debris from the May 22 tornado in Joplin, Mo.

The request sparked heated debate from citizens and other construction companies in attendance.

Mike Keal, who was representing Beachner, told commissioners Beachner wanted to open a construction and demolition debris only landfill near the Evonik Jayhawk Fine Chemicals Corporation.

Keal said it would take four to five months to get their permit through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, but with the commission’s approval they could get an emergency permit in 48-72 hours. Keal told the commissioners there would be some liability responsibility on the county’s part. Keal also said Beachner would try to take all responsibility off of the commission as soon as possible by continuing with the application process with the KDHE.

Cherokee County Commissioner Pat Collins told Keal it would be a good idea for them to have a town meeting with the citizens near the plant to find out how they would feel about having a C and D landfill there.

Jason Johnson of B3 Construction in Columbus said he did not feel another landfill is necessary. Johnson said the current landfills already in place are able to handle the debris yardage that is currently coming in from Joplin. Johnson said he spoke to engineers who said they currently believe there is about three million yards of debris in Joplin. Johnson said the engineers are not sure if their numbers are correct, but it is the closest estimate they can make at this time. Johnson told commissioners the engineers said about 2.4 million yards are strictly “C and D” waste, which when compacted and broken down will become between one and one and a half million cubic yards. Johnson told the commissioners the B3 landfill is currently equipped to handle about 1.4 million cubic yards of C and D debris with space to expand. He also said B3 has recently quadrupled the screeners at the landfill to make sure nothing hazardous gets through and all debris is sorted correctly. Johnson said he felt opening a landfill in that area would take away from the business B3 is currently receiving.

Carl Hays, who works for the Cherokee County Health Department and is Chairman of the Solid Waste Committee, said there are many landfills currently in the area. He also said Galena has an application in to open a landfill and another was just opened on State Line Road. Hays also told commissioners they will be responsible for the landfill for 30 years after it has been closed.

Tommie Bottorff, Plant Manager for PBI Gordon Corporation, said she does not want the plant in the area. She also said she had spoken to other citizens in the area who felt the same way.

A decision was made by Beachner to have a meeting with the citizens in the area before any final plans were made for opening the new landfill.

Susan Galemore of the Southeast Kansas Regional Planning Commission, told commissioners one of the properties bought with the neighborhood stabilization grant is ready to sell and there is already an offer for it. Galemore said the property at 424 S. Delaware was appraised at $60,000 and the offer was for $47,500. Galemore said because of the income stipulations, it has been hard to find a family to live there. Guidlines for the house also say the family must reside in the house for five years before selling it or else they will have to pay back a certain amount of money.

The commissioners moved to accept the offer for the house.

Commissioners also decided to buy three used four-wheel drive tractors and mowers for the county. The commission also decided to make their payment on the others this year and to try to keep the payments for the new equipment as close to the old payments as possible. The commission also decided to have an old John Deere mower the county owns weighed for scrap metal.

Sheriff David Groves spoke for Emergency Management Director Jason Allison at the during the meeting of the department heads Monday.

Groves told the commission Allison has been deployed with the instant management team. Groves also said Allison had asked him to tell the commissioners the county had been approved for a grant allowing them to buy 500 weather radios for county residents.

Groves said the grant came from the state and they have been working with Radio Shack to make the radios available to residents for a $5 fee. Groves then asked the commission if county would pay for the radios and then be reimbursed by the state. The commissioners checked with Treasurer Juanita Hodgson, to be sure the money was available and then approved the purchase.

Groves also said emergency management has been working on an alert system for the county. Groves said the reverse 911 system is not working out as well as they had hoped so they are now looking into a system called Nixel. Groves said Nixel will allow unlimited mass email and text messages for a rate of $2,500 per year. Groves said any county information could potentially be sent out over the system. He also said the Nixel system is more user friendly. Groves said even if a person does not know how to send a text message out, they can still receive one and read vital information.

In the Cherokee County Clerk’s report it was decided the budgets for county departments must be in by August 1 to allow enough time for County Auditor Gene Mense to go over them before sending the budgets into the state. Cherokee County Clerk Crystal Gatewood said a there is a statute that states the budgets for everyone in the state must be in by August 25.

Groves said in his report there is a new game warden in Cherokee County. He said the new game warden currently lives north of Empire city and will be moving into the area soon.

Groves also said vehicle inspection fees will go from $10 to $15 and salvage fees will go from $15 to $20 July 1.

Groves also told the commissioners the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department has just finished their Seatbelts Are For Everyone campaign and the campaign raised seatbelt usage among high school students 52 percent.

Cherokee County Treasurer Juanita Hodgson told commissioners she had spoken to Cherokee County Counsellor Kevin Cure and it had been decided the county would make preregistration available for the delinquent property tax sale on on Thursday.

Hodgson said bidders wanting to register have until 9:30 a.m. to register at the Cherokee County Courthouse and receive a number for the sale.

The sale is scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Cherokee County Courthouse.

Hodgson also told commissioners five more properties have been paid for since the list of properties was published bringing the number from 87 properties to 82.

Cherokee County Human Resources Director Deana Randall told commissioners Wednesday would be the first of the month cut-off for utilities in the county.