Sunday, July 12, 2020

Cross Your Fingers 🤞

How are you surviving COVID and the current world events? 

So much information to disseminate and thoughts to arrange makes it mind blowing!
I have not recently been adding anything to this blog for two reasons - 1) what to write and not write. 2) For some reason the last blog article was not viewable on a mobile device. 

I have wasted WAY too much time trying to figure out WHY this happened. So I am now going to just try and post this VERY short and uninteresting blog as a test. 

So, here is to crossing my fingers and hoping Blogger.com has issues fixed. (And yes I tried "community help", "blogger help", "Google", you name it!) 

There is SO much going on in our corner of the world.....I'd like to catch you up! 

Cross your fingers.......

Carla 🤞

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Uncharted Waters

Today (Sunday) as I write this article/blog post I have received over 10 “updates” from various state organizations. In these difficult and uncertain times, yesterday’s up-to-date information is today’s old news.

Like everywhere else, things have moved rapidly in Harper County. A Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) meeting was held Wednesday, offering an opportunity for the various agencies located in the county to provide an update on what is happening in each of their “worlds”. It was a time of education and sharing, as we learned what we can do to support each other and the public. 

Some county specific guidelines from the meeting include - 
Þ   If showing symptoms of COVID-19 – Do not call 911 and DO NOT go to the hospital or clinic until instructed to do so. 
Þ   Call Patterson Health Center at 620-914-1200.  They will screen you over the phone and provide instruction on how to proceed. 
Þ   In the event that testing reveals COVID-19, Patterson Health Center will provide health services and Harper County Health Department will perform the investigation and contact tracking. 

In just a day’s time the state made the call to suspend most state offices and shut down courts, driver’s licensing and other services, severely limiting the state services provided by the county.

A special board meeting was held on Thursday, March 19th to confer with county department heads.  Based on their recommendations along with the Health Department and Emergency Management, the decision was made to close the courthouse and limit public access. 

Harper County is still OPEN for business.  We do, however, now require that you call ahead and make an appointment with the department you intend to do business with. 

Although individuals may carry the virus and remain asymptomatic, in an attempt to be proactive, we now require employees and visitors alike to complete a screening process when entering a county building.   

This approach has created an additional challenge in complying with the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA) during our weekly Board of County Commissioner meetings. Per the AG’s updated regulations and best practices issued March 20th, we will begin utilizing technology to allow public access to the meetings.  If you would like to listen in, please visit the Harper County website, scroll down and click the link for “BoCC Meeting Information”.  http://www.harpercountyks.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=492

Not to be overlooked during this uncertain season, on March 16th Sherry Veirthaler retired from the county after 16 faithful years as our Health Department Administrator. Sherry, your timing is impeccable!  Heather Struble, jumped right into 2020 COVIC-19 as our new Administrator, and hasn’t look back.  Sherry, we thank you for leaving a department that is prepared to meet the challenges ahead. 

Please keep in tune with local guidelines by using social media or the county website. In the event you do not use the internet, feel free to call or text me at 316.215.5050 to have your questions answered. 

As we navigate these uncharted waters, please pray for the health care workers and EMS on the front line, for those who are providing essential services, such as truck drivers, and for our leaders tasked with making these decisions. At best, these are difficult times.  Let us continue to pray and check on our neighbors to share a joke, or ask if they need anything when venturing to the store.  Remember to encourage each other to stay strong and exhibit grace with one another. 

Until we can all physically gather together again, please wash your hands, practice social distancing, and take your ‘made in the USA’ supplements.  

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” 
― Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, 
Frankenstein

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Spring is in the Air!

Spring weather this weekend, time change coming, and wheat is greening up, such a beautiful time of the year! 

As a person who recycles it has been difficult weighing the cost of recycling vs the benefits. Added to that is if no one wants the recycled materials, then where does it end up? 

The business of recycle has been discussed at BoCC meetings as we began to see less, and less revenues with an increase cost to the taxpayer. 

Over the last several years as I attended various meetings in the state it was interesting to learn what other communities were doing. Most counties are not subsidizing recycling, it has been either a private enterprise or a city sponsored project. 

Recycling has been tossed around county board meetings for the past two years. I have checked with neighboring counties and not a one of them subsidize recycling. Yet for years, and at taxpayers’ expense, Harper County has covered the cost for labor, buildings, utilities, and equipment maintenance. I also called the recycling company in Hutchinson to see if they would be willing to come do a community pickup. The answer was no. 

“Harper County” is not closing the recycling center. Harper County is willing to donate the equipment to the recycling group, but they must find a new location. The reason for this IS to save taxpayer money. 

It has come to our attention that a R&B building in Anthony as being unsafe.  Rehabilitating this 100-year-old building is cost prohibitive. 
Harper County is trying to save money by utilizing existing buildings of ours instead of having to go all out on new buildings.

On a different note - This past week value notices should have been received. If you have a question about your valuation now is the time to call the Appraiser’s office and ask questions. Much better to resolve any issues NOW than later when the tax statements arrive. 

 Feel free to email me at cpence@harpercountyks.gov, call or text to 316-215-5050

“Every family in America knows they have to do a budget. Every small business in American knows they have to do a budget. Every local government, every state, knows they have to do a budget.” 

Monday, December 2, 2019

Introducing Road and Bridge Supervisor

Trust your Thanksgiving was full of family and fellowship. 

For months the search for a Road and Bridge/Public Works Supervisor went on and on.  After countless applications and many MANY interviews, we were able to hire an experienced Supervisor! 

Pleased to introduce Curt Logsdon most recently of Woodland Park, CO. 
Curt brings to Harper County over 25 years of upper level management experience in county government. 
Curt has previously successfully reorganized Road and Bridge departments in three counties in Colorado, making them efficient and effective. 

In 2011 Curt received PWLF National Professional Designation from the APWA Donald C. Stone Center for Leadership Excellence in Public Works.  (One of only 96 individuals selected throughout North America to receive this Designation.) 
Curt previously served as president, vice-president, director and secretary/treasurer for the Colorado Association of Road Supervisors & Engineers (CARSE).

Curt and his lovely wife, Teresa, also owned and operated Long Branch Construction from 2006-2019. 
Curt enjoys hunting in his spare time! 

Curt has been on board in Harper County for the last three months. Curt and Teresa are making their home in Attica. 

Welcome to Harper County! 

Feel free to call or text at 316-215-5050 or email at cpence@harpercountyks.gov

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” 
― 
Albert Einstein

Friday, October 25, 2019

A Ballot Question That Matters!

Most Kansans are unaware of a constitutional question on the ballot for our November elections.
This question is VITAL for Rural Kansas in the upcoming census and how we will be represented. 
Representative Adam Smith of Wallace County wrote a letter expanding on this ballot question. 
Here are a couple excerpts.

“If the ballot question passes and the adjustment requirement is removed from the Kansas Constitution, many Kansas counties without a college institution will lose 2-5% of their official population. Nearly 80% of the adjustment gains come from Riley and Douglas counties – Kansas State University and Kansas University, which would gain approximately 23,000 residents. These two counties would effectively gain an entire seat in the House of Representatives, and about two-fifths of a Senate seat. Other counties with colleges would see an increase, as well.”

“If you feel that removing the adjustment and counting students where they attend college is an accurate representation of the state, you should vote in favor. 
If you feel college students should be counted at the place they consider their permanent residence, you should vote NO on your ballot.”

Rep. Adam Smith’s letter in totality - 
A popular credit card advertisement uses the tag line "What's in your wallet?" While I don't have a Hollywood celebrity to deliver my message, I do have a similar question… "What's on your ballot?"

Kansas has an important vote coming up this November, and it doesn't have anything to do with any candidate for office. You probably haven't heard much about it, but the result could significantly impact rural Kansas! This has motivated me to provide Kansans with some facts behind the topic and how it could affect our state.

When you vote in this year's general election, be prepared to answer a question that will change our Kansas Constitution. The question will ask to remove the current requirement for adjusting the Federal Census data.

In a nutshell, the decennial census counts everyone where they live at the time of the census.  This includes those who may be at that location only temporarily, such as college students or military personnel. The required adjustment, added to the Kansas Constitution by the people in 1988, is performed by the Kansas Secretary of State (KSOS) which contacts all of these temporary residents to determine their permanent residence.

Why was this adopted in the first place?

The adjustment attempts to count residents of Kansas in the location they consider their permanent home, and subsequently where they are - or would likely be - registered to vote. The results of the adjusted census are used to draw the boundaries for legislative and state board of education districts, which must be created with relatively equal populations per district.

What exactly happens as a result of the adjustment?

Analyzing the data from the 2010 Census Adjustment Report*, the discussion really comes down to college institutions; Fort Leavenworth, Fort Riley, and McConnell AFB make up merely 940 of the 42,113 adjusted population.

If the ballot question passes and the adjustment requirement is removed from the Kansas Constitution, many Kansas counties without a college institution will lose 2-5% of their official population. Nearly 80% of the adjustment gains come from Riley and Douglas counties – Kansas State University and Kansas University, which would gain approximately 23,000 residents. These two counties would effectively gain an entire seat in the House of Representatives, and about two-fifths of a Senate seat. Other counties with colleges would see an increase, as well.

Why is the adjustment removal being proposed?

The reason for wanting to remove the adjustment can probably be boiled down to two things – time and money. No doubt the entire department looks forward to this process like they would multiple root canals, but is it still important enough to continue?

Let's look at some facts.

Yes, the adjustment certainly takes time and money. In 2010, nearly 120,000 individuals out of our state population of 3 million needed clarification on their permanent residency. Over 70,000 of those did not need adjusted – in other words they opted to have their permanent residence recorded where they were counted. (Many military fall into this category.) More than 42,000 required an adjustment for their permanent home, and about 6,000 had unresolved phone/address problems and could not be contacted.

Information from the KSOS claims the adjustment only impacted 13,000 people. I assume that number comes from the 2010 report that subtracted 13,836 people completely – meaning they stated their permanent residence was somewhere outside the state of Kansas. (Most of which were college students.) Subtract that number from the total adjusted, and there were over 28,000 residents of Kansas directly affected by the adjustment.

Last February, the KSOS estimated the cost of the adjustment to be approximately $834,000. However, the 2010 total project cost was under $200,000 and that included the salary of existing staff that worked on the project, which accounted for $77,731 of the total reported cost. This expense also occurs only once every 10 years.

Is that enough people to matter? Is the monetary savings worth it?

That's the exact question each of us must decide before we vote this November!

Some proponents claim the adjustment is antiquated, but I would say it is more about accuracy in your representation in the Capitol. If you feel that removing the adjustment and counting students where they attend college is an accurate representation of the state, you should vote in favor. If you feel college students should be counted at the place they consider their permanent residence, you should vote no on your ballot.

*The full 2010 Census Adjustment Report can be found online at: http://www.sos.ks.gov/forms/elections/2010CensusAdj.pdf


Adam W. Smith
State Representative, 120th District

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Budget and EMS

Work on the 2019 budget continues. It is made a little more difficult as the 2017 audit is not complete by the auditing firm.
Another issue is the loss of revenue from a bill passed in 2014 which eliminates a 100 + year old mortgage fee for services rendered. This revenue stream of fees enabled the Deeds and some duties by the Clerk’s office to be self-supporting.  Since this has been eliminated it now falls on the back of the local taxpayer to pick up the loss.

Onto happier news! Jan Harding has been appointed EMS Director. (She had been the interim.)

EMS has been ramping up their training and skill sets. Dr. Beech, Harper County EMS Medical Director, recently presented lecture training on chest trauma. In this class he reviewed various injuries and the latest updates and changes in treatments of injuries.
Other training happening with Harper County EMS
Required monthly trainings to
Keep current with new changes
Stay familiar with equipment
Meet state standards for continuing education
Attending KEMSIS convention to gather information on new trends and new regulations.
Classes to become “Stop the Bleed” presenters so that they can teach local companies or public entities staff as a public service.
Re certified in CPR
Staff advancing by taking AEMT courses (which allows them to give certain medications and      perform procedures that an EMT cannot do.)
1 EMT is attending Paramedic school
New T-shirts where the back will have a reflective EMS logo

Many of these activities will help us in the rural area stay on what is current and most effective in helping others.

One piece of “new” but really not so new is “pit-crew” CPR. It has been shown that this type of CPR increases the survival rate of all cardiac arrest events. During this type of CPR rescue breathing is not always started immediately and should not alarm bystanders. Studies and EMS doing pit-crew CPR has shown that the chest compressions are important at the onset and increases the survival rates and viability of life.

Currently, we have on staff seven EMT's, three AEMT's, two Paramedics, and one EMR. We have three EMT’s signed up to take the AEMT course and one in paramedic school.

EMS stands for Emergency Medical Services. The term Emergency is defined as “A serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.”  This is when you call 911 and request an ambulance.

Speaking of 911. …. Director Christine Cintron is working toward the entire 911 department to become EMD certified. This stands for Emergency Medical Dispatcher. They will be trained on how to help with medical emergencies until EMS arrives.

A SHOUT OUT to our EMT’s, Paramedics and Dispatchers who are training toward excellence!

“Confidence comes from discipline and training”
  Robert Kiyosaki

Until next time feel free to call or text me at 316.215.5050 or email at cpence@harpercountyks.gov

Disclaimer: This blog reflects my “perspective” on what happens in board meetings and in the county. It is not my fellow commissioner’s opinions or official minutes.


Sunday, July 1, 2018

Upgrades and more!

Remember when they said computers would make our life easier? Remember when they said computers would reduce the need for staffing? Remember when? 

Not sure the Courthouse staff is feeling the love of those thoughts! We are at the “end of life” of our current software system.  It has the “green screen”  (think first computers) and doesn’t have many capacities the new and upgraded software will have. 

Several years ago we went through a software upgrade in the payroll system.  During that year of transition several staff members had noticeably less hair.  During this transition the Clerk’s office will be doing double entry of all accounts billed and receivables.  This will be on top of regular duties plus preparing for elections.  SIGH….. 

Talking about system upgrades – the Treasurer’s office has a trifecta – and not in a winning way! Software changes at the county coincide with the State upgrading their Motor Vehicle and Driver’s License software systems for the second time in recent years. This office has had major staffing changes in the last few months, a newly appointed Treasurer who is learning on the job, and also an Office Assistant. 

With ALL the software and personnel changes in that office, Treasurer Michelle made the decision to temporarily limit the hours of driver’s license renewals to Tuesday and Thursday afternoons 1-4.  
Before you get in a dander – remember – this is State work we are providing for FREE (to the State) at the local level. It is NOT in the State Statutes as a required duty for the Treasurer’s office. But completing daily statements and reconciling accounts is a statutory obligation.  In order to allow staff to get accounting obligations done in a timely manner the decision was made to temporarilyreduce the hours of this State service. Once all 3 software system upgrades are complete, County Treasurer Michelle Eshelman will review the hours.  

2019 is right around the corner and that means budget preparation is in full swing. Have to admit – it is not fun doing a budget when the valuation continues to decline. 
Those involved in Agriculture know all about difficult budgets, diminished cash flow, lower revenues which equal lower income. 
That is one reason that I am not interested in increasing our mill levy. But to keep the levy the same as previous years will mean a reduction in department’s budgets.  And to be quite frank – some smaller departments with 1-3 employees – there is no place to absorb a decrease. 
Your commissioners sure could use prayers for wisdom over the next month! 

Please feel free to call, text or email with any thoughts or comments!  cpence@harpercountyks.gov   316-215-5050 

“Prosperity is a great teacher; adversity is a greater. Possession pampers the mind; privation trains and strengthens it.”   -  William Hazlitt