County ends disaster declaration

County commissioners decided to end COVID-19 disaster declaration, following the state's lead.

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June 23, 2021 - 9:46 AM

The Allen County house and grounds crew was busy Tuesday morning planting marigolds and other summer flowers. Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

Allen County’s COVID-19 disaster declaration has ended.

The decision came after emergency manager Jason Trego spoke with commissioners about ending the declaration to follow suit with the state.

Commissioners then voted in favor of ending the declaration specific to Allen County.

The purpose of the declaration on the county level was to help recoup costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and facilitate extra emergency measures.

Allen County commissioners are, from left, Jerry Daniels, David Lee and Bruce Symes.Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

Trego also spoke with commissioners about plans to procure storm shelters for unincorporated/small communities throughout the county.

Trego, along with Thrive Allen County deputy director Jessica Thompson, said they recommended consulting with an architect who would help find the most suitable locations for the shelters as well.

The general locations for the shelter structures would be Carlyle, Savonburg, Petrolia, Mildred and rural Iola.

Commissioners seemed receptive to the initial proposal and gave Trego/Thompson the go-ahead to seek bids on what the project might cost, along with looking at any cost-saving measures like grants.

Thrive economic development director Jonathon Goering spoke briefly with commissioners about some developments with the airport utilities expansion project.

He said the ball was rolling on Requests for Qualifications (RFQs) regarding the airport’s layout plan, and also talked about obtaining bids on an airport labor study.

Commissioners agreed it would be worthwhile to see if other stakeholders would share costs for implementing the labor plan, such as the cities of Iola and Humboldt and Iola Industries.

During his weekly report, public works director Mitch Garner spoke with commissioners about lowering speed limits connected to detour roads north and east of Moran.

Road damage and dust control problems were the catalysts for discussion.

To address the issue, commissioners decided to enact a 45 mph zone on the paved detour areas and a 35 mph zone on the gravel detour areas.

Garner also said that KDOT agreed to perform dust control measures at various intersections throughout these same areas.

Additionally, along with noxious weed control and removing trees, Garner also talked with commissioners about what to do to obtain road rock while the county’s rock crusher has its final repairs completed.

Commissioners gave Garner the green light to seek bids to purchase a large oil tank as well, that could work in concert with a pothole patching machine.

Darolyn “Crickett” Maley touched base with commissioners regarding the budget for the Allen County Treasurer’s Office.

She said the department’s budget hadn’t changed much, and noted that little revenue had been lost following a decision to no longer offer commercial vehicle licenses (around $3,500).

Maley said that Anderson, Woodson, Wilson and Crawford Counties were available to those who needed a commercial license, and said there were no plans to reinstate the program given its problematic nature.

Not having the program, “it’s been a good thing for my office,” she said.

Cara Barkdoll also did a check with commissioners regarding the budget for the Allen County Register of Deeds Office.

She said that costs for the department had only risen slightly due to regular salary increases, and noted that the department hadn’t really seen any slowdown over the past year, despite the pandemic.

Barkdoll also took advantage of her time with commissioners to follow suit with sheriff Bryan Murphy in advocating for hazard pay for county employees who did not work remotely during COVID-19.

“I support that,” she said. “I think they should get something.”

Lastly, attorney Charles Apt was on-hand to close out the meeting with a lengthy executive session, wherein commissioners and others sat down to discuss bids for the county’s ambulance contract in private.

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