Work on a project to restore part of the bank of the Little Arkansas River at the north entrance of Harvey County West Park was recently recommended to be expedited to the county commission — given how recent flooding had increased erosion of the river bank and created a greater threat to West Park Road (running parallel to it).

After opening bids for assistance with work on that project (i.e. securing a crane to place 700 tons of rock and build a toe-wall to help restore the bank) at the county commission meeting on Monday, some concerns were raised — namely with the costs coming in higher than estimated.

The costs received from the lone bidder (Bridges Inc. of Newton) were not what Road and Bridge Superintendent Jim Meier was expecting, he admitted, especially given the work Harvey County is already taking on with the project. The county will be hauling the rock, closing the road and supplying the barricades during the bank restoration project.

Given the higher than projected estimate, the question was raised by Planning and Zoning Director Gina Bell if moving West Park Road was an option. That, it was pointed out, would not eliminate the continuous natural threat.

"At some point, we have to stop the erosion," said commissioner Chip Westfall.

"The water is eddying now at this location. It's going to continue. It's going to continue faster," Meier said.

Leasing a crane and operator outright was also another alternative brought up by the commission, but Meier pointed out that was what the department was essentially seeking to do with this bid.

Scheduling availability for a crane of the necessary size was something Meier noted may have affected both the number of bids received and the ultimate project cost from the lone company to submit, which added a wrinkle to the question of re-bidding the project.

Currently, the options in Meier's eyes are either doing the project in-house or doing nothing (and potentially having to close West Park Road).

Meier said it is certainly a project Harvey County Road and Bridge could do in-house, but it would likely take longer using an excavator as opposed to a crane (three weeks versus one). Doing the project with an excavator also comes with the added difficulty of having to get down to the bank to build it back up, impacting the road even further to help negate the main threat of the eroding river bank.

"The winter will be beneficial, hopefully, but what I was trying to get away from ... was the fact that we're going to need to cut into the existing road just to gain access down below," Meier said. "The construction includes digging a toe-wall, which is a three-by-three trench that figures out to be about 100 feet long. To do that you either have to have a clamshell (crane) to do it from above or you have to get down below with an excavator, but that's a very important part of the construction you can't be without."

Ultimately, the commission voted to receive the bid and take no further action. It will now await further information on the project from Meier before proceeding.

In other business, the county commission:

Discussed agenda items for the upcoming quad county meeting Harvey County will be hosting, including a potential update on the legislative transportation committee from State Senator Carolyn McGinn (R-Sedgwick).
Reviewed a code of ethics regarding civil meeting behavior for county commissions to adhere to as presented several years ago by the Kansas County Commissioners Association. Given two major incidents occurring within county commissions across the state recently (in Sedgwick and Leavenworth counties), the board was open to haven a resolution brought forward for the commission to officially adopt.
Heard about a potential amendment to the Harvey County Fair Association's capital improvement plan for 2019, prioritizing roof replacement at the commercial building over the purchase of new bleachers and electrical work (the top two needs outlined initially). Fair Association President Mike Riffel was advised to get bids on the replacement and come back before the commission before further action is taken.
Learned that plans are being drafted to fix the deteriorating floor at the Harvey County Solid Waste transfer station.
Was notified by Harvey County Health Department Director Lynnette Redington that it received a $20,000 mini-grant for expanding public awareness on the dangers of opioids.
Received an update on the tax foreclosure sale, which saw 10 properties sold, including three vacant lots being purchased by adjoining landowners.
Approved the Impact Grant award from the Kansas Health Foundation ($25,000 to establish a sustainable, volunteer-based transportation system for health care), authorizing Department on Aging Director Robert Carlton to sign.
Adopted Resolution 2018-20 and 2018-21, regarding the GAAP waiver and transfer of Road and Bridge funds pertaining to annual year-end financial practices.
Approved public holidays for county staff for 2019, re-instating Good Friday as a half day holiday to get back to the standard 10 and a half day holiday schedule as in years past.
Accepted the resignation of Lake Township Darrell Allen and approved Casey Rump to fill Allen's unexpired term (ending in 2020), effective Jan. 1, 2019.
Accepted an audit contract with Lindburg Vogel Pierce Faris as presented for the next three years, with the idea of bidding out the contract in the final year.
Approved putting the legal notices for 2019 out to bid, using the same language as previous years.
Heard a statement of appreciation from Ken Janzen, representing the Mennonite Central Committee's Flatlander Bike Ride, for assistance received from the Harvey County Sheriff's Office during the event.