ERIE — Road and Bridge Director Mike Brown reported troubling developments during the Feb. 22 Neosho County Commission meeting.
Brown told commissioners that he discovered vandalism to Road and Bridge equipment on Feb. 2.
“We discovered that two of our mow tractors had broken windows,” he said.
Brown believes the separate incidents were connected, with one taking place at 30th and Jackson and the other 16th and Kiowa. The damage totaled approximately $2,500, he said.
“The sheriff’s department did an investigation,” he said, but he has yet to be updated on the findings.
Brown asked commissioners to approve a reward for information related to the vandalism.
“I was going to ask the commission if they would maybe consider a $500 reward for information leading to a conviction,” Brown said.
Commissioner Nic Galemore indicated that the vandals are hurting their own bottom line.
“It’s costing them. They’re damaging their own equipment, damaging their own property,” he said. “If they’re doing it to be spiteful to hurt the county, they’re only hurting themselves.”
Brown also said that there has been a recent rash of vandalism to stop signs located in the county. The locations vary, and the vandals are targeting stop signs mainly in the northeast and northwest parts of the county, Brown said.
While he didn’t mention the precise number of damaged or stolen signs, he said that they cost $150 apiece.
“This is very costly,” Brown said.
Brown further illustrated his point by drawing attention to a fatality incident related to a stolen stop sign.
“There was a case in Texas years ago where there was a young man just out of high school who made a dumb mistake by stealing a stop sign,” Brown said. “That night, somebody ran through the intersection, got T-boned, and a person was killed and the person was facing manslaughter charges right out of high school.”
Brown wanted commissioners to think long and hard about the stop signs, issuing a stern warning.
“This is not something to be taken lightly,” he said, with the topic tabled until further notice.
Brown added that the perpetually understaffed Road and Bridge department recently welcomed three new hires — Ken Sexton, Jaren Ketler and Allen Wright.
“Happy to have them,” Brown said.
Brown also provided quotes for culvert replacement from the company The Rail Yard. Commissioners unanimously approved the purchase of two 10’-by-27’ culverts for replacement at 210th Road (West 7th Street), approximately a quarter mile west of Chase Road. The total price of the culverts is $26,700.
County Clerk Heather Elsworth, also HR Director, requested assistance from Brown in obtaining a catalogued inventory of all Road and Bridge Department vehicles and equipment. Additionally, Galemore requested a log of Road and Bridge shop tools, as well as logs for all tools transported in department vehicles.
Elsworth is also seeking to obtain GPS pricing for county vehicles outside of the sheriff’s department. Commissioners were on board with the request, and noted that discounts on the county’s insurance for using GPS will purportedly offset some of cost. Commissioners called it the move a step in the right direction.
Other items approved by commissioners:
• A departmental promotion for Alexandria Petty to 911 Department shift leader, with an attached raise of 50 cents per hour.
• Approval of Neighborhood Revitalization Program six-month extensions for Benton and Melissa Duff, 1005 Massachusetts in Erie; and Tony Masters, 5350 170th Road in Chanute.
• Randy LeMasters and Matt Morgan were approved to join the Tri-Valley Services board of directors.
During public comments, Stan Basler updated commissioners on information he received pertaining to the Neosho Ridge windfarm regarding FFA activated lighting. In summary, Basler reported that all turbine lights should be synchronized while activated. In an unrelated topic, he expressed concern about the lack of recycle centers within the county.
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