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

Thursday, March 8, 2018

This Week - Sensational Headlines & Team Work

Attention grabbing front page headlines in a local paper were “County Commissioners Approve $283,000 For Construction Of Building New Business”.  If you wanted to know the “scoop” you had to go to the middle of page 2 to learn that it was a Community Development Grant in which $40,000 of grant funds will be awarded. It certainly did make for sensational headlines!!!  

When contacted the editor did admit to being confused but failed to contact the Clerk’s office for any clarification prior to publishing the paper. The editor “believes it is the meeting minutes that are misleading, not my headline. I think the minutes could have been written with a little more detail, thus avoiding any confusion.” 

A couple blog articles ago was about information and “fact checking”, trusting but verifying facts.  But we all know the truth doesn’t always make good coffee and donut shop talk.

How does the Community Development Grant Program work? Any proposed and existing business in Harper County is eligible to apply. (If a business is within Anthony CID district these funds would have to be approved and utilized first for eligible projects). The application process  is fairly simple, government has enough red tape without creating more for business owners.

After all documentation is submitted and IF there are no personal or property taxes due the project is brought to the BoCC for review and possible approval. The MOST a business can be granted is $40,000 OR one half of the total cost of their project. There are a few restrictions to the grant funds, but feel free to check with Melinda McCurley, Community Development at 620-842-6030 for details.

The Community Development Grant Program funds are from the Plumb Thicket Landfill monies. This is based on the focus group study done when Plumb Thicket was started, with economic development being a priority. In 2014-2015 we took one million dollars of these funds and awarded to projects in the cities. We are now investing and supporting businesses with the end goal of the county having a broader valuation base.

OTHER NEWS

Team work is alive and well in Harper County! Recently there have been some catastrophic fires happening in our neck of the woods. At a recent cotton gin fire the county’s road and bridge crews were helping out with excavators. This week with winds howling and pushing the fires the fire departments needed all the help they could get. Fire Chief Ken Leu wrote a nice note - “THANKS to the BoCC and Road and Bridge Department for the use of your semi tanker during the pair of large fires Tuesday in the north part of the county.  Their efforts aided us in not having any structure loss or livestock loss during these challenging fires which burned right up to the Plumb Thicket visitor structure where it was stopped.”
Emergency Manager Chris Cintron and EMS Director Jeremy Courtney were also working hand in hand with the fire departments to help provide aid that “worked like a charm”! THANK YOU!!
Not to be left unmentioned are Sam and Wayne Drouhard and Progessive Ag – Danville who are always willing to lend equipment and a helping hand! Thank you for ALL your efforts in helping our fire fighters!

Until next time – pray for rain!!

Feel free to contact me at 316-215-5050 or email at pencecarla@gmail.com





Monday, February 26, 2018

Minutes, Vouchers and Payroll ........

Boy oh boy, what we have to go through to get a few tenths of moisture! But ice or snow, just thankful for what we did get! (after a couple “snow days” parents may think otherwise….!)

Since it is kind of like the first of the year (my first article anyway) I thought I’d just start and refresh folks on how some parts of county government work.

By Kansas Statute (if you EVER wonder about why we do some things – just think these two words – Kansas Statute) we must elect our board chairman the second Monday of the month of January. Since it is extra work and responsibility it is a little bit like drawing straws, no one wants the short one. Lee and I talked about ganging up on Brian for a second year, but he didn’t seem to appreciate that. So, in the end, Lee Adams is the Chairman for 2018 with Brian as Vice-Chair.

We no longer have an Administrator – (for 3 years now) so we continue to split the various departments between the commissioners. Lee – Health, EMS, Brian – Public Works (Road and Bridge, Noxious weed and Landfill), EMS, Carla – Courthouse departments, Dispatch. The remaining offices are elected and are responsible to you, the taxpayer, with the county board approving the budget.

By Kansas Statute (those two words, again) the Clerk’s office is responsible for the official minutes. In our county, the Clerk does not sit in on the meeting, but has deputized Melinda McCurley to take minutes. (Melinda wears multiple hats as she is the County’s Community Development Director and serves the BoCC and County as the BoCC Administrative Assistant.) The board at a following meeting reviews the minutes for accuracy, makes any corrections and then approves them in a formal motion. They are then considered official and published in the paper and made available on the website. *As with any motion, it takes at least 2 commissioners voting yes for it to pass.

The vouchers – or bills (as you and I call them) are paid twice a month. Department heads/elected officials are responsible for accuracy of bills and budget fund numbers. However, the Clerk’s office works diligently with all departments to ensure the accuracy of information before it is entered for payments. It is then readied for commissioners to review and approve.  

Payroll is every other week. This is done much in the same fashion as the vouchers except that we have an electronic system in place to clock in and out and to run pay roll. The department head/elected official must approve their departments hours (including overtime) and submit them to the Clerk’s office. It is not as cut and dried as it may sound. There are many variances to be taken into consideration with having staff 24/7, call back/on call time, county policies and labor laws. Just ask the Clerk’s office how well payroll went this past week!

That is just a few of the repeating processes that happen weekly at county board meetings. Please feel free to join us any time. Public comment is at 9 AM.

Until next time please feel free to call or text me at 316.215.5050 or email me at pencecarla@gmail.com