Wayne White
| Managing Editor

LYNDON—To provide better fire protection and emergency services, Agency Township and the city of Quenemo have proposed combining resources into one fire district. Two township board members and a Quenemo councilman presented the idea Monday to the Osage County Commission, and requested assistance in forming a new fire district.

Quenemo City Council Member Randy Chenoweth, and Agency Township board members Roy Habegger and Larry Yockey told commissioners that the two entities have considered that both are in need of more equipment to effectively fight fires in the area.

“We’ve both got our own equipment,” Habegger said, “but we can pool our resources and materials and just operate as one fire department. I think it would be better for all the citizens that live in town and out.”

Habegger said with the recent revision of flood plain maps in the county, both entities need new fire stations.

“Both of our fire stations, under the revised flood plain, Continued from 1A

are in a flood zone,” Habegger said.

“The city council’s on board,” Chenoweth said. “This is something that probably should have been done years ago.”

He described the service ability of both fire departments as inadequate.

“Right now at this point in time, truth be told, we’re going to save the foundation, that’s all we have the capabilities to do,” Chenoweth said. “We can’t even really give mutual aid anymore. If we have a structure fire, the very first thing that happens is Lyndon and Melvern gets called. They don’t even call us because they’ll have the fire out by the time we get there.”

He said Quenemo officials are worried the city could lose its accreditation for the fire department.

“We want a fire department down there that is functional that can do the job,” Habegger said. “If we got a decent fire department down there, our insurance ought to go down in Quenemo and the surrounding area.”

Chenoweth said the city had consulted the League of Kansas Municipalities.

“The League said this is where we’d get started,” he said. “You guys have to bless the thing.”

County counselor Delton Gilliland said that if a fire district was formed, county commissioners would serve as its governing body, but would appoint members of a board to oversee the fire department. Three to nine members would be needed for a fire district board, commissioners noted.

Habegger said both township and city residents would be needed on the board to offer fair representation.

“We’d like to bear down and get something started,” Yockey said, saying the new fire district could be eligible to apply for needed grants.

“With the situation we’re in down here, we ought to move to the head of the line on grants,” he said. “Face it guys, we can’t sustain what we need on a $17,000 budget.”

“The cooperation between township and city is there, we just need some help,” Yockey said.

With Osage County Commissioner Ken Kuykendall ready to offer a motion to direct Gilliland “to proceed in helping with the legal part of this,” Gilliland offered to research statutes and report to the commission next week.

Commissioners agreed to meet with interested parties to discuss the situation further at 9 a.m. Monday, at which time Gilliland is to report his findings.

In other discussion, commissioners briefly discussed shooting activities in Vassar that was brought to their attention last week. Several Vassar residents had voiced concerns to the commissioners about someone target shooting in a residential area, and asked for assistance.

Osage County Land Use Coordinator Sheila Dale reported to commissioners that if a shooting range has been established, it is possible that zoning regulations might apply and a conditional use permit is needed, depending on whether it is a private range or commercial operation.

In discussion with Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn Monday, commissioners inquired if she had investigated the situation.

“I haven’t found a law yet that said he couldn’t do it,” Dunn said.

With commissioners pointing out possible zoning regulations, Dunn asked, “Are you going to have to zone everybody who wants to go out and pop off a couple rounds?”

In other business, the commissioners:

• met with Mike Peroo, CPA, about his request that the county consider his company to conduct the county’s audit and budget development. Commissioners agreed to consider the company when making future decisions regarding audit firms.

• approved publication of a proposed budget for next year. A public budget hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sept. 7.