Pott. County seeing increase in mail-in ballot participation; commission gets public-works update

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Mail-in ballot numbers
The Pottawatomie County Clerks Office has seen high rates of voter participation via mail-in ballots so far this year.
“We are getting hundreds of them back a day,” Nancy McCarter, Pottawatomie County clerk, said. “One day we got 400 and that was pretty exciting. You’ll never get 100 percent of them back, but I’m hoping we’ll get 80 percent of them back. Some people just don’t get them in the mail.”
McCarter says mail-in ballots have been a popular choice for voters throughout the rest of the state as well.
“The whole state of Kansas, we set records,” McCarter said. “We’ve probably mailed out, just through the state, over 300,000 ballots. So clerk’s offices everywhere have been swamped.”
As for voter registration numbers, McCarter says they have registered around 500 new voters since the beginning of 2020.
That puts the number of registered voters in Pottawatomie County at about 16,000.
U.S. Hwy 24/Green Valley Rd. intersection project update
The Pottawatomie County Commission agreed to reapply for a grant that could potentially help pay for a pedestrian trail and bridge previously associated with the U.S. Highway 24/Green Valley Rd. intersection project.
The county was previously funding the two projects as one large project, but decided to temporarily end the federally-funded trail and bridge portion as to relieve themselves of the obligation to abide by Davis-Bacon wage rates.
Davis-Bacon wage rates are required for construction projects funded by federal money. Recent increases in these wage rates have caused costs for federally funded projects, such as the U.S. Highway 24/Green Valley Rd. intersection project, to increase as well.
Peter Clark, Pottawatomie County Public Works director, says reapplying can’t hurt since the county has already done the prep work for the project.
“We’ve already done the engineering,” Clark said. “If during the process of the Green Valley project, we decide to pull the trigger on the trail and bridge, we’ve lost nothing in the process. So there’s no harm in submitting the grant at this point in time.”
The commission also approved an engineering study to prepare for repairs that will be done on Booth Rd., which was the subject of a landslide in 2019.
While the engineering study will cost about $50,000, Clark says the solution itself could cost several times more.
“The fix will probably cost us a couple hundred-thousand dollars all together between under drains, geogrid systems, stabilization, rip rap, etcetera,” Clark said. “It’s going to take a lot of money to fix in addition to the engineering.”
County commissioner Pat Weixelman was the lone vote in opposition due to concerns that unexpected cost increases could occur during the engineering study.
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