Elisabeth Gaston | Reporter
LYNDON—On Tuesday, Osage County Commissioners met with Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn, road and bridge supervisor Glen Tyson, and the county department heads.
The sheriff was busy over the holiday weekend, responding to 28 medical calls and 60 calls for service.
“Melvern Lake was pretty busy this weekend, wasn’t it?” asked Osage County Commissioner Ken Kuykendall.
“Yeah, we had several medical calls there,” Dunn said, “Mostly people falling and some possible broken bones. Also, we had the drowning.”
According to press releases put out by the department, Vinnie L. Rice, 37, Melvern, was scuba diving Sunday off Coeur D’Alene Beach and did not resurface. Osage County Sheriff’s Office received the 911 call at 4:10 p.m. Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Melvern Lake Corp of Engineers, Osage County Fire District No. 3-Melvern, Osage County EMS and Coffey County Water Rescue also responded to the scene.
According to Dunn, crews almost called the search due to darkness, but Rice’s body was recovered at 8:40 p.m. The drowning is being ruled an accident and the sheriff’s office is awaiting the autopsy report.
“We actually had really good response to the 911 call,” Dunn said. “I think we had eight or nine people from Coffey County, and that’s on a holiday weekend.”
Dunn also informed the commission of an inmate that requires outpatient surgery.
“The cost, just for the surgery, is $12,420,” Dunn said. “The inmate will be around awhile, so it needs to be done. That is not the Medicaid price though. When we submit the bill, I’ll ask for that, which will save some money, but we’ll still have to cover 60 percent of the cost. That cost also doesn’t include anesthesia and the surgeon’s charge.”
Tyson met with commissioners to update them on the bridge project. The county is still procuring easements for the expansion of many of the bridge sites. Last week, a surveyor from Cook, Flatt & Strobel had a landowner report him to the sheriff for trespassing, after CF&S contacted the owner to get permission to be on the land. The sheriff’s office contacted Tyson and Bob Chambers of CF&S to inquire about the legality of surveyors being on the land. Tyson referred them to a statute which allows a possible condemner the right to survey land.
“Well, this landowner wasn’t too keen on the bridge being replaced in the first place,” Kuykendall said. “We, the county, would just have to condemn it if he doesn’t want to sell though, so it seems that statute gives us legal right.”
Tyson said that a sheriff’s deputy would go out with the surveyor in the future. Tyson has been meeting with Kaw Valley electrical and water districts to clarify line and pipe placement and possible solutions to work with the new bridges. One water line issue, which would have cost around $1,100, was eliminated when it was found to be five miles north of the original marking.
“Kaw Valley is always great to work with,” Tyson said. “They’ve always been fair.”
Tyson told the board he would send up a road and bridge employee to clear some brush to enable Kaw Valley to move an electrical line June 1.
Commissioners also met with department heads for their monthly meeting, including Byron Jordan, senior center director, Stephanie Watson, economic development, Becky Bartley, land development, Bryce Romine, county emergency management director, Robert Duncan, IT supervisor, Stacy Berry, county appraiser, Linda Massey, register of deeds.
County commissioners moved to return courthouse hours to 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Commissioners changed courthouse hours at the beginning of the year, but decided to return to the former hours of operation.
In other business, the board:
• conducted two executive sessions, one for 10 minutes to discuss non-elected personnel with Dunn, the other for 10 minutes to discuss matters to attorney-client privilege with Tyson and county counselor Caleb Crook.
• approved $1,020 for stamps for the county treasurer’s office.
•accepted the resignation of road and bridge employee Derrick Reece, effective May 31.
• approved renewal of dues to the National Association of Counties, a group that lobbies for counties.
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