COLUMBUS - The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners heard from the department heads for their monthly reports on March 5. Following the reports, Commissioner Neal Anderson said he appreciated the work done by each department. Commissioner Pat Collins brought up that it has been three years since employee's received pay raises.

A motion was then made by Commissioner Collins to increase hourly employee wages by $.75 per hour. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Anderson, and carried 3-0, however a discussion of non-hourly employee salaries took place and Commissioner Collins clarified that he intended for everybody that works for the County to get the raise. A new motion to amend the previous motion and to increase all county employees' pay by $.75 per hour was made by Commissioner Collins, and again carried 3-0.

Department Heads - Monthly Reports

Officials met with the Board for their routine monthly meeting for the purpose of updating the Board on happenings within each department, with the following department heads present: Barbara Bilke, Register of Deeds; Betha Elliott, Health Department; David Groves, Sheriff; Deana Randall, Human Resources; Jacob Conard, County Attorney; Janet Miller, Economic Development; Jason Allison, Emergency Management; Mark Hixon, Appraiser; Ralph Houser, Maintenance; Rodney Edmondson, Clerk & Election; and Wayne Elliott, 911 Addressing & Mapping.

Barbara Bilke reported the processing of 30 passports in February and that beginning in April the local fee will increase from $25 to $35 for each passport.

Betha Elliott reported that 10 officials from Cherokee County will take part in an exercise on mass fatality in Labette County this week.

David Groves reported that the next drug take-back will be on April 28, with locations in Baxter Springs, Columbus, and Galena; He stated that several schools have requested-a review of their security plan.

Deana Randall stated that the health assessment blood draw will be held in May. She needs to know if there will be an incentive to participate or a premium increase for not participating. Commissioner Moates asked for the insurance committee to meet and bring a recommendation.

Jacob Conard introduced his new assistant that will be handling the juvenile case load and helping with the traffic and misdemeanor dockets. He stated that on March 22nd, along with Sheriff Groves, they will be doing a school tour.

Janet Miller stated that they completed the youth entrepreneur fair last week. The 1st place winner is moving on to the state competition. They are currently doing business follow-ups and visits.

Jason Allison stated that this is severe weather awareness week and the state-wide tornado drill will be tomorrow at 10 a.m. He stated that septic tank calls are increasing now that things are drying out. There will be a tabletop exercise on April 10th that will involve a chemical plant crisis.

Mark Hixon reported that the Galena hospital has notified counsel that they intend to dismiss their motion for exemption. He stated that he has received the first application for the NRP program. It's for a $2.5 million grain elevator in Faulkner. He stated that valuation notices have been sent out.

Ralph Houser stated that he is working on the fountain and hopes to be finished soon. He invited the Commissioners to tour the County Attorney's Office to view the remodeling that has been completed.

Rodney Edmondson reported that the SEK District Meeting will be held in Miami County on April 5, and needs to know soon how many will be attending.

Wayne Elliott reported that in January they sold $199 in maps and made four street signs and two cemetery signs. February saw one new address and the sale of $80 in maps.