Local News

August 15, 2018 - 11:15 AM

Bill King was nominated Tuesday evening to succeed Tom Williams as Allen County commissioner representing the Second District.
Williams resigned with more than two years remaining in his four-year term to accept a position in Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office. He will deal with fraud and abuse, mainly affecting elderly Kansans. He and wife Margo left today to take up residence in Lawrence.
King is a familiar face among county employees, having served as director of Public Works for more than 20 years.
“Bill knows budgeting and has invaluable experience from his time with the county,” said Kent Thompson, a former county commissioner and now a representative in the Kansas House, in nominating King. “I feel strongly about his skill set. When

there was consideration of the county hiring an administrator, in practice we already had a lead administrator in Bill King.”
King’s name was written on 11 of 15 ballots in secret voting. David Lee, LaHarpe, was the only other candidate. Also in the room were two others who had said they would accept the nomination. They were Ron Ballard, an Iola council member who ran against Williams two years ago, and Robert Gehrt, a LaHarpe area resident.
Gov. Jeff Colyer will be notified of King’s nomination. He will make the appointment, next to a foregone conclusion in such matters.

IN THE lead-up to his nomination, King briefly recalled his time with the county, including how the landfill began and was routinely improved over the years.
The landfill is  an adjunct to the county quarry, where 300 tons of rock are crushed for road use each day. The quarrying of rock opens space for the landfill at an opportune site near the center of Allen County. Trash taken from commercial haulers and from out of county pay the cost of landfill operations, and also have in large measure created a fund to close cells when the time comes.
Infrastructure is a key component of economic development, including the airport, King said, which, under his direction, had been expanded to provide a runway long enough to accommodate large planes and those jet-propelled.
“It’s infrastructure,” in all its facets, “that attract people,” King said.
During his tenure the county had some tight financial times, which King said gave him opportunities to adjust “and keep our house in order.”
“Ike (Eisenhower) said a good yardstick is if something is good for the country, and that’s the same for the county,” he said, meaning that if it isn’t, it should be abandoned.
“I have plenty to do, but I do have intimate knowledge of the county, and I’ll work hard for you, give all I got.”
“I’m a straight shooter,” Lee said during his five minutes at the podium. “I’ve spent more than half my life in service of the county, state and nation,” including time in the military. He plans to retire from the Army Reserve in 2019 after 34 years of service and with the rank of colonel.
He characterized himself as a “fresh face with no axes to grind and will reach out to those I represent.”
A concern he dwelled on was the state of Allen County Regional Hospital. “I’m told it’s in the black” and he wants to ensure continued success, in large measure by finding ways to keep patients in Allen County rather than have them “going south (to Chanute) and elsewhere out of the county. I have a deep desire to serve and if nominated I’d serve one more four-year term.”

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