Marshall County’s plan for spending a $1.9 million federal pandemic-relief grant has been approved by the state’s SPARK Taskforce, and the money can now be distributed and spent by Dec. 31.
“We can go ahead and start ordering stuff today,” said county emergency management director Bill Schwindamann.
The plan to spend the grant is split into two categories, reimbursement for pandemic-related supplies that have already been incurred and future pandemic-related projects, supplies and expenses.
For reimbursements $121,155 will go to county agencies, cities and school districts.
For future projects, $1,803,336 will go to cities, school districts, Marshall County Partnership for Growth, non-profits and county agencies. Schwindamann said the $1,147,941 that will go to county agencies will be used to purchase ultraviolet lights, testing equipment and other COVID-19 related supplies for schools, fire departments, ambulance services, hospitals, law enforcement and other public service workers. He said the county is making bulk purchases because it can get a better deal.
The Partnership for Growth will receive $100,000 to be distributed to businesses and non-profits.
Also Monday, commissioners met with Black Squirrel Bark Park committee members Maureen Crist, Maggie Kickhaefer, McKenzie Kracht and Wade Maddox. The committee is developing a dog park on Marysville city land south of Jackson Street at Eighth Street. The committee members said about $17,000 has been raised for a bridge and a driveway. The next phase of the project is fencing, and the committee asked commissioners if they could donate to the project.
Commissioner Barb Kickhaefer said the county has $60,249 in its special parks and recreation fund, which comes from a tax collected on alcohol sales. She would like to see the county help pay for the dog park’s fencing.
County Clerk Sandy Wilson said $3,000 was collected for the fund in 2019.
Commissioner Tom Holle said the board needs to be careful because once they open up the fund for spending, then the money will be gone.
Commissioner Keith Bramhall said, “As soon as we do this, people are going to want to work on their park all of a sudden.”
Kickhaefer proposed developing a fair way for distribution of special parks and recreation monies and noted that 83 percent of the fund’s revenue comes from Marysville.
Wilson said the revenue comes from people all over the county coming to Marysville to make purchases.
“While this is a city project, I do see it affecting the whole county,” said Maggie Kickhaefer.
She said young adults plan their travels around places where they can take their dogs.
Bramhall said he wanted to leave some money in the fund for future years.
The commissioners will continue to discuss the issue at next week’s meeting.
In other action, commissioners:
— Heard public comments on Irish Creek Wind Project from:
• Jonathan Sill, Marysville, who said he had acquired documents showing NextEra Energy plans to build two more wind farms in Washington and Republic counties. He also said he believes NextEra should pay more to the county and its landowners.
• Ellen Koch, Frankfort, who read a statement from Sheri Alverson, Centralia, who said they have not had a good experience with NextEra building Soldier Creek Wind Farm near their home and they have had to purchase blinds and coverings for their windows because of the 25 turbines that are visible with blinking lights at night.
• Greg Allen, Centralia, who said he lives on a haul route for the construction of Soldier Creek where roads have not been maintained properly, his fields damaged and bridge weight limits ignored. He said the wind farm should be put up to a public vote and not decided by commissioners.
• Dan Howell, Frankfort, who said people who are against the wind farm have been using bullying tactics. He said Kansas State Sen. Mike Thompson, who will speak Thursday at St. Gregory’s Catholic Church parish hall in Marysville, is supported by Koch Industries, which owns oil pipelines and opposes wind energy.
• Kathleen O’Brien, Nemaha-Marshall Electric Cooperative general manager, who said Marshall Wind Farm near Beattie has been good for the cooperative and they expect the same to be true for the Irish Creek Wind Project.
• Doug Plegge, Home City, said the proposed wind farm will benefit the county with improved roads, revenue, tax payments to the county after the 10-year abatement is up, and 12 to 15 new permanent jobs.
— Were informed by Wilson the district court is looking for a place to select a trial jury. The place must be large enough to allow for social distancing. Kickhaefer suggested the Marysville American Legion or Armory.
— Scheduled an 8 a.m. fence viewing Monday in Wells Township on the north side of Kansas Highway 9 at 13th Terrace. Lee Bigham, Frankfort, has requested the viewing of the boundary between his land and Rich Ruetti’s land. County Counselor Jason Brinegar said the commissioners will analyze the situation and decide what needs to be done.