Pottawatomie County Commission extends ATA Bus, discusses field burning

WESTMORELAND, Kan. – The Pottawatomie County Commission voted unanimously during its Monday meeting to extend its current contract with ATA Bus through the end of the 2012 calendar year

“We’re pretty excited to expand those services to St. George and continue that service,” Dustin Trego, management assistant of operations at Pottawatomie County, said.

ATA Bus Director Anne Smith was also present at the meeting. She said the fares for the new commutes to St. George have not yet been determined.

The new contract will go into effect June 1, 2012.

The Pottawatomie County Fire Department is examining new avenues to help expedite the burning process for county residents.

Fire Supervisor Bruce Brazzle brought up the possibility of creating an 800 number that would allow residents to obtain burn permits over the phone.

“We’re trying to find an easier way for residents to call in and an easier way for dispatchers to process those calls,” Brazzle said.

The new phone system that is in place should make the idea a reality, at some point, according to Brazzle. Additionally, Brazzle encouraged residents to always be mindful when burning their fields.

“We’ve had a few calls this year from gas companies and phone companies,” Brazzle said. “Landowners are not paying enough attention when they’re burning around their (the companies) poles or structures on the properties and they’re being damaged.”

The county website is updated daily with the latest burning conditions. Residents can also call 1-877-417-8617 toll-free to find out the burn status for each day.

Burning instructions can also be found online.

A fire that recently broke out in southwest Pottawatomie County has been deemed incendiary.

The fire began shortly after 11 p.m. last Monday, April 9, outside of a St. George, Kan., apartment located at 208 1st St. Information regarding the incident is still being gathered.

“We are collecting evidence at this time,” Brazzle said. “Doing interviews to put the case together to take to the county attorney.”

The culprits, once found, will be charged with aggravated arson.

Severe weather may have ravaged parts of central and northeast Kansas over the weekend but Pottawatomie County made it through unscathed.

Emergency Management Director Chris Trudo addressed the storms during Monday’s commission meeting. The preparation for the storms started early.

“We started gearing up for it Friday with a webinar from the national weather service of what they expected to happen,” Trudo said. “They (NWS) didn’t miss it by far.”

The activity picked up Friday evening and carried into the early hours of Saturday. According to Trudo, tornado sirens went off in several communities.”

“We sounded in the cities of Olsburg, Fostoria, Westmoreland, Onaga, Wheaton, and Havensville,” Trudo said.

As of Monday, no injuries or significant damages had been reported.

The month of March proved to be fruitful for home sales in Pottawatomie County.

“Sales numbers increased dramatically by 51 percent over last year at this time,” County Appraiser Lois Schlegel said.

The 57 sales in March was the highest total for any month in 2012. Of those 57 sales, 31 were for new residential parcels; the highest total in that category since July of 2011.

Additionally, Schlegel informed the commission that her office has done a total of 118 hearings.

“Forty-eight of them are residential, 13 commercial, six farmstead, 11 agriculture, three are exempt, and 37 vacant (parcels),” Schlegel said.

Schlegel will be a guest on the April 24 installment of “In-Focus”.

Records were shattered at the most recent “Free Day” at the county landfill transfer station.

A total of 156 tons of waste were taken in on April 7, with 63 tons being shipped to the landfill.

“We have 477 vehicles come across the scales on that day which broke the previous record of 443,” Scott Schwinn, Landfill Transfer Station Supervisor, said.

Schwinn says that 325 gallons of oil, seven palates of e-waste, and 16 barrels of paint were thrown away. There was also an inordinate amount of tires that ended up being discarded.

“We had about 1100 tires on free day,” Schwinn said. “People really took advantage of being able to bring in the tires at no charge.”

A total of 23 employees came in to work at the transfer station that day to ensure all of the materials were disposed of properly.