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The Board of Brown County Commissioners met in regular session with the following members present: Chairman Dwight A. Kruse, Keith Olsen, and Richard L. Lehmkuhl.

The Brown County Commissioners discussed concern over costs of Meals on Wheels at the past two meetings.

Karen Wilson, director of NEKAAA, spoke to the commissioners on March 29 about the program that the county helps subsidize. She was joined by Hiawatha Community Hospital Nutrition and Food Services Manager, Mark Nenadov, and Alison Kerl, Chief Operating Officer.

Until Jan. 1, the Meals on Wheels program was completely sponsored by the Hiawatha Community Hospital, but at that time Northeast Kansas Area Agency on Aging addressed the commission and informed them of their intent to take over the program. This is thanks to a grant that helped provide shelf stable meals to county residents last summer.

Wilson said grant funds are helping build a facility with a kitchen for the program, but until then frozen meals are provided five days a week and the hospital will continue to provide two meals a week.

Services for Elderly Director Wanda Davis said she was surprised the costs went up more than what was previously discussed. Wilson said they are now providing seven meals a week — rather than five — and more participants have also signed up, as the program is open to all senior residents of the county — rather than a specific area. The county subsidizes $1.80 per meal for the participants, which attributes to the cost.

The frozen meals will be provided until NEKAAA can build the kitchen, potentially this summer.

At this Monday’s meeting, Davis again spoke with the county commissioners to inform them of discussions with the hospital. Kerl said she will appear before the commissioners again next Monday to clarify the situation.

“Moving forward, we are committed to ensuring that seniors receive the meals they count on, and I’m confident that we can provide solutions that the county will find agreeable,” Kerl told the World.

In other matters, Brown County resident Jerry Aller appeared before the commission on March 29, expressing concern over Wind Farms. He felt that if the county hired an attorney to negotiate with wind farms that the person would just lobby to bring wind farms to the county and he didn’t want that. He asked why the county would not hire Josh Ney, who appeared before the commission last week. Ney is not a specialized negotiator with wind farms and the commissioners felt that the Brown County Attorney provides all other legal services for the county just fine.

Commissioner Richard Lehmkuhl reminded again that no negotiations are underway with any wind farms, however the county is reviewing potential candidates to fill the position of a legal negotiator if the situation arises. Due to Nemaha County moving forward on allowing wind farms, this could mean transmission lines would need to cross through Brown County. In order to protect the county’s interests, a specialized negotiator would be needed.

Commissioner Lehmkuhl also said the county could not issue any bans on wind farms for legal reasons and reminded Aller that if a landowner chooses to have wind energy on their property that was a personal decision.

In other business from the March 29 meeting:

Sarah Kleopfer, Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau, requested use of electricity at the corner of Oregon and South 7th Street for the Big Kansas Road Trip on May 7-8 for the purpose of a food truck.

The commission would like to table the discussion until Monday, April 5, 2021.

Cory Costa, Liberty National Director, discussed services Liberty National has to offer the county.

Road and Bridge Secretary, Tami Lehmkuhl, presented the commission with three bids for a 60’ tube needed for replacement at 260th Road 73 Highway. The bids were as follows: Metal Culverts with a bid of $10,005; J&J Drainage Products with a bid of $9,760; and Welborn Sales with a bid of $9,288. The commission voted to accept Welborn Sales bid of $9, 288.

Brown County Treasurer, Cheryl Lippold, presented the commission with the bid for replacement of the desks in the Treasurer’s office. The lone bid of $35, 654 was from Navrat’s. Lippold indicated she contacted two companies from Kansas City and one company from Lincoln, Neb., with no response. The commission voted to accept the bid of $35, 654 from Navrat’s.

Brown County Clerk, Dawn Boyles, discussed the disposal of the current desk systems. Boyles will ask other county offices if they have a need for them.

Brown County Clerk, Dawn Boyles, presented the three tree removal bids for courthouse square. The bids were as follows: Kyle’s Tree Service with a bid of $8,250; Gudenkauf Tree Service with a bid of $4,350; and Gamble’s Gardens with a bid of $8,100. The commission voted to accept the bid from Gudenkauf Tree Service with a bid of $4,350.

Brown County Clerk, Dawn Boyles, presented the commission with the final bill from Energy Solutions Professionals. Commissioner Lehmkuhl has spoken with Sheriff Merchant and they are still working at the sheriff’s department. Commissioner Lehmkuhl would like to wait until the work is complete to approve final payment.

William Pollock discussed paying back Rodney Allen and Doug Bletscher for pay on vacant positions they were filling, but had not been promoted to that position. Commissioner Lehmkuhl requested an executive session, stating this needed to be discussed behind closed doors as it concerned personnel. The commission went into a 10-minute Executive Session. Following Executive Session, Commissioner Pollock made a motion to reimburse Rodney Allen and Doug Bletscher for pay on vacant positions they were filling, but had not been promoted to that position. Motion died due to lack of second.

Commissioner Pollock expressed concern over the courthouse security at the main entrance, stating he didn’t think the county needed it and that some county residents didn’t like it. Commissioner Lehmkuhl reminded that legislators voted in a bill that allowed them to have security and that one of the reasons it was implemented in was for District Court security. Commissioner Pollock would like to speak with Sheriff Merchant and the Judge Patton and the courts about courthouse security.

Commissioner Shoemaker discussed a citizen concern the low maintenance road on Plum Tree Road.

The March 31 2021, month-end claims were approved as follows: General $85,294.11; Road & Bridge 156,252.25; Historical Society 4,375.00; Employee Benefit 72,121.57; Election 4,033.56; Extension 8,500.00; Mental Health 5,850.00; Developmental Services 2,254.33; Capital Improvement 6,909.76; Conservation 6,875.00; Appraiser 5,154.40; Ambulance 21,250.00; Noxious Weed 1,081.60; Alcohol 4,911.38; Diversion 545.00; 911 SB50 -5,869.21; ACC 2,567.30; JJCR 3,218.78; Reinvestment Grant 88.13; Services for Elderly 3,908.76; Solid Waste 50,159.53; Payroll 172.90; TOTAL $439,654.15.

The March 24, 2021, payroll was approved as follows: General $77,928.14; Road & Bridge 14,392.44; Technology 265.00; Appraiser 4,821.55; Noxious Weed 2,260.53; ACC 9,120.49; JJA Core 6,170.45; Reinvestment Grant 3,099.52; Services for Elderly 2,618.00; Solid Waste 6,302.73; Employee Ben FICA 7,943.87; Employee Ben KPERS 9,971.87; State Unemploy/Work Comp -43.22; Insurance -9,469.34; TOTAL $135,382.03.

Other business from April 5 meeting:

Brown County, Appraiser, Steve Markham, discussed the upcoming appointment of Appraisers at the end of June. Markham also discussed purchasing a second vehicle for the Appraiser’s department. The commission will review the quotes for vehicles and discuss at a later date.

Sandy Carter, IT Director, updated the commission on the purchase of cubicle desks for her office. The total cost for the cubicles is $4,929.

Allison Kerl, Hiawatha Community Hospital, updated the commission on happenings at the hospital.

Brown County Treasurer, Cheryl Lippold, discussed the annual Donate Life contest they have through the Driver’s License department.

County Attorney, Kevin Hill, discussed the revisions he would like made to the Allied Business Solutions contract if the commission decides to move forward.

Commissioner Lehmkuhl requested the Clerk’s office gather each department’s phone bills and return to the discussion next week.

Doug Bletscher, Jerry Hisle, and Terry Siebenmorgen discussed summer help, rock hauling, and the hourly charges for oiling season.

Motion by Lamar Shoemaker to approve an hourly rate of $900 per hour for chipping and sealing for other entities.

Brown County Clerk, Dawn Boyles, presented the final bill on the replacement of the HVAC systems at the Brown County Jail to the commission for approval. The commission would like to table this discussion until next meeting as work has not been completed.

Brown County Clerk, Dawn Boyles, presented the KCAMP four year liability report for the commission’s review.

Commissioner Lehmkuhl, presented pricing for a shed to be installed on courthouse square. The commission discussed to continue using the shed located at the sheriff’s department.

The commission will discuss the wages of the Road and Bridge department at the April 20 meeting.

Commissioner Lehmkuhl discussed the purchase of a zero turn lawnmower. The commission would like to have Dave Schuetz, head custodian, to attend next week’s meeting to discuss the mower purchase.

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