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Archive for Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Additional storm sirens sought as population grows

June 19, 2007

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Speed limit changes get county approval

During their Monday meeting, county commissioners set the following speed limits at the recommendation of Keith Browning, county engineer:

¢ A 45 mph zone was established on County Road 442 from Ash Street in Eudora to the Johnson County line. County Road 442, which is 10th Street with a 30 mph limit inside the Eudora city limits, had been 55 mph outside the city. Eudora is experiencing significant growth along the road, Browning said.

Near the county line, the road is closed until September for bridge replacement.

¢ A 30 mph zone was established for roads in the Eagle Ridge subdivision in Clinton Township. This will affect sections of North 976, East 787 and North 988 roads.

¢ A 45 mph zone was established for East 1400 Road from County Road 458 to 31st Street in Lawrence. Traffic on East 1400 Road is increasing and many vehicles are traveling at speeds above 60 mph, a study showed.

As Douglas County's population grows, so does its need for storm sirens.

Commissioners discussed a request Monday for three new sirens costing $20,000 each.

The request will be included in the county's 2008 budget proposal when it is presented to commissioners later this month, said Teri Smith, interim director of Douglas County Emergency Management.

Smith said there are three areas of the county that could use five sirens, but the department is only requesting three: near Baldwin City, Vinland and the Lecompton exit along the Kansas Turnpike.

"That is a really high-growth area," Smith said about the area northwest of Lawrence.

Commissioners Bob Johnson, Jere McElhaney and Charles Jones were receptive to the request and even left the door open to funding five sirens. They asked Smith to develop criteria for determining when and how new storm sirens should be installed.

"There needs to be some kind of criteria that sets some benchmarks," Johnson said.

Smith said she came up with the recommendations by consulting with the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Department on where growth was occurring. She said she also considered requests from the public. A landowner near Baldwin City was willing to offer his property for a siren.

Commissioners will begin 2008 budget discussions in the next few weeks. The money for the sirens would come out of the capital improvement fund.

Commissioners also gave their support to a design and site for the planned Dreher 4-H building, which will be used for meetings and exhibits. Plans call for the 6,000-square-foot building to be built at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds between Building 21 and the Extension service building.

The building will be built and furnished with funds donated to the Douglas County 4-H Foundation by the Helen Dreher estate. The amount shouldn't exceed $600,000.

The county will take ownership and oversee construction because as a public entity it can get a sales tax exemption for the project and the 4-H foundation probably couldn't. The money for the building will be transferred to the county through a grant agreement.

Jones, however, expressed concerns about the county acting as a "middleman" in the construction process between the contractors and 4-H representatives.

Assistant County Administrator Pam Madl, who sits on the Dreher building committee, and Douglas County Extension Director Trudy Rice, who also is on the building committee, said they didn't foresee difficulties because the contractors - B.A. Green Construction and Treanor Architects - are well-known.

Commissioners also approved a bid from Penny Construction Co. to build a new "crow's nest" at the fairgrounds' outdoor arena. The elevated structure serves as a place for announcers, judges, media and others involved in managing an arena event. Penny's bid was for $40,530. The fair board will pay $10,000 of the cost. The new structure will be ready for the 2008 fair.

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