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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Commission declines to pave road leading to Missouri ranch

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

The entrance to Maple Ranch, a private event venue on the Missouri side of State Line Road, is located about two miles south of Kansas Highway 52 on a gravel road. (Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)

MOUND CITY – A representative from Maple Ranch, a venue for corporate events in Missouri, met with the Linn County Commissioners on Monday, March 13, to see if State Line Road could be paved or have a chip-and-seal surface applied for about two miles to the entry of the ranch.

Kenny Boone, the representative for the ranch located off of State Line Road and Kansas Highway 52, said that he knew that in the past Linn County had done some projects like that for a 50/50 cost share. He asked the commissioners to consider what the county might do.

However, as commissioners learned, the price tag for Boone’s request would be substantial.

Boone said that there were no other houses on the road but that there is a lot of traffic the ranch. He said that last weekend there was an 82-person event and there are 32 staff people who travel the road daily. The number of staff swells to 50 during an event.

Commission Chair Danny McCullough asked Boone how that would benefit Linn County. Boone told him that they do a lot of business at Stainbrook’s.

Public Works Director Shaun West said that he and Boone talked about the proposal. He said that he asked Boone to meet with the commissioners to see if any plan would be acceptable to them.

West said that he did not want to put a lot of time and effort into a project with Boone on a direction that wasn’t beneficial and wasn’t going to get approved. West asked for the commissioners to think about it and see if there would be an acceptable plan they could work with.

Linn County recently signed an agreement with a Missouri township for maintaining that section of road.

McCullough asked Tod Moeller, Linn County Asphalt foreman, what something like that would cost if it an asphalt surface was installed. Moeller said that the base of the road would need substantial work with some spots having to be raise 4 feet. He said that just the asphalt alone would probably cost $1.3 million to $1.5 million, not including manpower.

Moeller said it would shut down Linn County’s road crews as far as manpower goes. The prep work alone would take several months. If the road were paved, snow would have to be pushed on the road even if there was just two inches of snow. The county does not usually push snow on gravel roads when it is just two inches.

West asked if Boone worked with him and got an independent bid, would that be okay?

Commissioner Jim Johnson told West that Linn County did not have the manpower to work on the road.

McCullough said it would be very hard to ask Linn County residentsa to do that road when there are no houses on that road. McCullough said he would not be in favor to spend any tax dollars on it, but he would not be opposed to the Maple Leaf Ranch paying to have the paving done. He said that if the road was paved, the county could plow the road.

“But it would be hard for me to be on board with it with us not benefiting a whole lot from it and asking our taxes to pay for it,” said McCullough.

Johnson said he agreed with McCullough, because there were a lot more roads in Linn County from which county residents could benefit.

County Counselor Gary Thompson said that another valid point is that, despite the fact that this is Linn County’s section of road for maintenance, the county does not own this road.

West clarified that if Boone and Maple Leaf Ranch put the road in, the Linn County Commission was not opposed to it. They agreed and said they would do snow maintenance.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Reviewed the Linn County Park report for the month of February. The year-to-date park receipts were $29,480 and expenditures were $48,160 for a loss of $18,680. The report shows large expenses taken out in January included insurance, utilities and a water leak.

West referred the commissioners to the February report which showed $14,542 receipts and expenditures of $13,140 for a gain of $1,400.

County Clerk David Lamb pointed out this amount of loss is typical for the winter months.

• Heard from West that the RFPs for the swimming pool engineering bids will be presented at next week’s commission meeting by Park Manager Sheri Loveland and Assistant Public Works Director Jessica Hightower.

• Approved using Jarred Gilmore and Phillips, PA for this year’s annual audit. Diehl, Banwart and Bolton, the company who has been the auditor for the county for years no longer does municipal audits and gave this company as an alternative.

• Approved signing of the mowing contract with Scarecrow Farms in the amount of $905 per mowing around county buildings.

• Approved offering a contract to Randy Page to be a construction consultant for the county on upcoming projects. Page will be an hourly employee at $30 per hour with no fringe benefits and will work on an as-needed basis but never more than 40 hours in a week.

• Learned from Thompson that he is working on getting more information about the contract with the Crawford County landfill.

• Learned from McCullough that he had contacted the Lake Region Solid Waste Authority Regional Coordinator Shay Hanysak, and she had told him that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment will be opening up several grants for landfill work.

West said that the commissioners needed to have a workshop so they were all in agreement about the process before starting work on a grant. Two years ago the county applied for a grant for recycling trailers for each school district but turned down the grant after it was awarded to the county.

• Scheduled a workshop on April 3 to go over options and plans for landfill.

• Learned from Lamb that County Appraiser Kathy Bridges would be in to talk with the commission next week for about 30 minutes about the 2023 values.

• Learned from West that the new employee working on a commercial driver’s license (CDL) through the county’s training program is ahead of schedule on his completion.

• Learned from West that the Bunker Hill Community Building and Senior Center had an inspection failure from the health department. The issue was mice and evidence of mice in the building.

West said that the problem had not been reported to his office. He said that Noxious Weed Director Johnny Taylor, who is also in charge of spraying and eradicating pests from the county buildings, would have the issue resolved in 10 days. The building is being examined for possible means of entry for the rodents, and those entry points will be repaired.

• Heard from West the new county bus had been taken for repairs because of issues with the side lift door. The repairs took one day and it was back in service.

• Learned from Lamb who showed the commissioners a mill levy sheet that looking at average county levies that Linn County was the fifth lowest in the state. He said he realized that mill levies were only one part of the picture.

Lamb said that a point that Johnson brought up when he handed the sheet out was that we are that low because we have the power plant and that is exactly right. That is where a big chunk of the county’s value is. Coffey County has the lowest levy because of the nuclear power plant located there.

Lamb said he just wanted the commissioners to see that it’s not like we have been going insane with tax levies. He said Linn County was actually lower than other counties in the state because a couple of years ago, Linn County had actually been 15th place.

• Approved Moeller to go out for bids for paving just over 5 miles of Wall Street Road from Kansas Highway 7 to 1000 Road and Jackson Road. Moeller said the asphalt project would be 1.5 inches thick and 24 feet wide.

• Heard a report from Moeller that the plan for 2023 was to do 20 miles of chip-and-seal. He said that he tried to follow a three-year plan on the roads and this year the roads will be in the La Cygne area, including Querry Road and County Highway 1095 north. He updated the commissioners on oil and rock that the county would have to buy for those projects.

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