Wayne White | Managing Editor
LYNDON—In April, the Flint Hills Nature Trail might see
more foot traffic than it ever has since it was converted from
a railroad corridor into a hiking trail. In fact, it could appear
that an entire army is marching down it.
Virgil Scheid, rural Vassar, reported to the Osage County Commission
Monday that he had received communication from the 1st Battalion,
18th Infantry Regiment, based at Fort Riley. The unit is planning
a spring road march, and has chosen the Flint Hills Nature Trail
as a likely route for the training exercise.
Scheid said an e-mail had been sent to the trail’s developers
in November, seeking information about the feasibility of soldiers
hiking the trail 117 miles from Osawatomie to Herington.
“You’re going to see about 800 soldiers walking
down the trail,” Scheid told commissioners.
He said he was notified last month that the march plans were
still being developed for the Army unit to walk the trail over
five days in April.
Scheid noted the trail has not been completed over the entire
route; 24.6 miles of the former Missouri-Pacific line crosses
Osage County with about seven of those miles developed near
Vassar and west toward Osage City.
Trail developers know there are some obstacles and possible
hazards in undeveloped areas, Scheid said, but they should not
create any hardship for soldiers used to living in war conditions
such as in Iraq, from where the regiment was recently redeployed.
“It’s one beautiful trail from Osawatomie to Ottawa,”
He said the captain who had contacted him pledged to offer services
of the soldiers to improve the trail.
Osage County Commissioner Carl Meyer asked Scheid about an obstruction
on the trail west of U.S. Highway 75, and whether the soldiers
would help remove it. Scheid said after the meeting trail developers
had been steadily working to remove a large amount of brush
on the rail bed.
During the meeting, Scheid also conferred with Osage County
road and bridge supervisor Glen Tyson about several road drainages
that intersect the trail and need attention. Tyson agreed to
inspect the drainages for possible repair.
Scheid said military personnel had been in the area recently
inspecting the trail for the possible march. He noted the Army
had asked for no assistance other than permission to hike, although
he believed they would be seeking areas to set up camp along
Commissioners were agreeable to the proposed march and offered
assistance if requested.
“Let us know if they need anything,” said Osage
County Commissioner Ken Kuykendall.
Scheid said the troops would likely need nothing but the packs
on their backs.
“What they pack is what they use,” he said. “They’re
military. They’re rough, tough guys.”
Scheid said he would report back to the commissioners when the
march is confirmed.
In other business, the commission:
• approved a request from Anne Gray, health department
director, to purchase a vaccine refrigerator with leftover H1N1
vaccination funds. A purchase order for $5,229.80 to Gem Refrigerator
Company was approved. Gray also reported local school H1N1 vaccination
clinics have been completed.
• approved the purchase of a used, 2008 Caterpillar wheeled-loader
for the road and bridge department from Foley Tractor, Topeka,
at a cost of $102,200. Commissioners also agreed to purchase
a conveyor to be used to unload the county’s recycling
trailers, which are now available at Scranton and Overbrook.
The price of the conveyor is $1,000.
• heard from Tyson that a township and county road meeting
has been scheduled for April 6 at Melvern Community Center.
Tyson also reported on the possible availability of stimulus
funds for a bridge project.
• met with Mike Halleran, of Emporia, to discuss collection
services for delinquent personal property taxes for the county.
Halleran is to meet with commissioners at a later date with
proposed fees for his work.
• at the request of Sheila Dale, county land use coordinator,
formally approved annexation of the Tiger Ridge subdivision
into the city limits of Lyndon. Dale said the county planning
and zoning board had also approved the annexation.
• approved a request from Stephanie Watson, county economic
development director, to appoint her as administrator of the
county’s E-Community program. Watson said the county could
collect a fee of five percent to administer the business startup
loan fund. She also presented a report on ongoing economic development