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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Five member commission gets support from county officials

Updated: Jan 20

By Charlene Sims,

MOUND CITY – During a discussion about 2024 goals, Linn County Commissioner Jim Johnson brought up reorganization of the commission to a five member commission and Commission Chair Jason Hightower added that the contingency plan for when the power plant closes down is an important issue.

Johnson said that was has been brought up to him a lot of times and he realizes that it takes a vote for the conversion from a three- to a five-member commission.

“There’s a lot of people in the county that would like us to go to that. I mean there’s a lot of people,” said Johnson.

“I’ve heard it as well, Jim,” said Commission Chair Jason Hightower.

“There’s a lot of feedback, and I don’t know what it takes. If it takes us to decide to put it on a ballot?” asked Johnson. 

County Counselor Gary Thompson said he had some information together about this but did not bring it with him today.

“It’s building steam as far as in the county there’s a lot more people that think that’s what we need to do,” said Johnson. “I’ve been here three years, and I’ll tell you what in the last six months I’ve heard it way more than I heard in the other two and a half years.”

“So, like reorganization of the commission?” asked Commissioner Danny McCullough.

“I think increasingly we see reasons why five will be good,” said Thompson.

Johnson asked if it had to go to a public vote.

“You would pass a resolution that lays out what the new districts would be,” Thompson said. “Here are the five districts we are proposing and the public gets to vote on. They accept.”

McCullough said that would be a good time for the commissioners to throw out the two meetings a week idea or maybe one and a half days.

Johnson said, “It’s going to take some discussion.”

Next, Hightower brought up developing contingency plans for the power plant leaving.

Hightower said that he was trying to get in contact with Evergy right now, trying to develop a resource through there. 

Johnson said that Evergy was not going to tell the county the day the power plant was going to shut down. He said they would tell you about a year from the time it’s going to happen if shuts down. They are not going to give you the plan.

Hightower replied, “So what they have filed with the state of Kansas right now and the state of Missouri is 2032 and 2039.”

“Because they have to do that,” said Johnson.

“I understand,” said Hightower. “That’s going to be a monumental change for the county and I believe we need to start thinking about it today.”

Johnson said, “I was at Waverly Saturday night, you know how hard the wind was blowing, one wind turbine out of 96 was running and real slow. I don’t understand that. Why weren’t they all running? Unless the oil was so thick they wouldn’t run, I don’t know.”

Hightower asked the other commissioners if they want to start looking at these things next week and prioritize how they were going to tackle them. They agreed.

Other goals for 2024 that the commissioners talked about:

• McCullough brought up an issue that he had talked about several times over the past year – mutual aid agreements between the county and cities. Such an agreement would ask cities to help with funding of law enforcement and emergency dispatch and housing city inmates. 

Hightower said that he had been in contact with Linn Valley and La Cygne about those issues.

• McCullough said he would like to see mutual aid agreements with the fire departments also.

• McCullough also wanted to review and update policies with department heads. Hightower agreed.

• McCullough said he wanted to work out a way that commissioners had more knowledge ahead of time about decisions that needed to be made. He gave an example of Bolivar, Mo., where commissioners came in two days a week. One day to hear public comment and upcoming issues and the other day to actually make the decisions.

• Johnson said that he thought the commission needed to take a strong look at the landfill early in the year and get something going. Hightower said that was also on his list.

• Another one Johnson wanted to get moving on is the airport. Hightower said that was also on his list.

• McCullough brought up road maintenance and Johnson included cleaning out ditches.

Johnson said, “I’ve had landowners talk to me about it and that they were willing to help if we will work with them. We can put the dirt there and they will haul it off for us. They’ll take it, so we should be working with the landowners.”

“Yeah, that’s a huge one, and you guys know how I feel about it,” said McCullough.

“We’re not going to fix our roads until we fix our ditches,” said Johnson.

• Hightower brought up the employee survey, and he said he wants to get that done this year.

• McCullough also brought up utilizing the Linn County Park to its fullest. He said that he had been given a contact number at Evergy for a person to discuss having side-by-sides operate at the park on the trails. Right now, they were missing each other’s phone calls.

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