Butler County Engineer and Director of Public Works Darryl Lutz addressed the board of county commissioners at the meeting on Tuesday, March 14 to request approval of road maintenance for the west extension of the Tallgrass Pony Express pipeline project in El Dorado.

"The verbiage in this [agreement] is virtually identical to the verbiage just a few years ago when Tallgrass put in their bigger, 24-inch pipeline through the county .... There will be a two million dollar bond attached to it, which is the same amount we requested when they first came to the county," Lutz said.

The plan for the total project is for a 16-inch crude oil pipeline to be constructed through Butler County from south of Towanda to the tank farm west of El Dorado. The work for this specific agreement will take place on ground just south of the turnpike.

"I think they're moving along fairly quickly, and I think they're about ready to start construction," Lutz said.

The agreement was approved and signed by the commissioners.

Director of Facilities Management Dan Ingalls also met with the board of commissioners on Tuesday. He brought bid proposals for the commissioners to open that pertained to the replacement of four underground HVAC (Heating, ventilation and air conditioning) supply and return lines between the historic courthouse and the east annex building.

The bids from contractors were opened by the commissioners, and they readdressed the proposals after review from Ingalls.

"I contacted three firms. Cruz Corporation decided not to bid. So, we received bids from Five Star Mechanical and Waldinger. Both companies we've used here before – both, I'm very confident, can do the work. Five Star's bid was 41,041 dollars. Waldinger's bid, which I'm going to recommend that this is the one we accept, is for 34,035 dollars and 62 cents," Ingalls said.

The board awarded the bid to The Waldinger Corporation.

"I've asked them to be completed by the end of April. Actually, what I put in there was April 21st. If you approve somebody today ... they thought [they were] pretty confident they'd get that pipe by then," Ingalls said.

Later in the meeting, Lutz discussed the 2017 Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) federal funds exchange with the board of commissioners.

"This an annual item now that I bring to county commission. Cities and counties, by formula in state statute, get a certain percentage or portion of federal funds that come from the federal highway program into the state. And years ago, we utilized those funds by basically making a project application to KDOT – whether it be a road project or bridge project – they'd approve the project, then we'd have to develop the plans according to all their requirements and all their specifications, run it through their bureaucracy and we'd get the project built. The state ... [since] about 2011, developed a new program where the counties [that are] going through all the state's bureaucracy and have to comply with all the federal requirements for how you let and administer contracts and deal with wage rates and material specifications – things of that nature – they [the state] would build all their projects following those and buy our federal dollars from us, basically for 90 cents on the dollar. So, for every one dollar of federal money that'd be available, we'd get 90 cents – and then we'd just build our own projects and don't have to mess with their administration. And in my mind, that's really a great program because I figure it costs at least 20 to 30 percent more to actually build a project going through all the state's administration and requirements, which have to comply with the federal [requirements]. Anyhow, we'd get this money directly and use it, and we'd build the project ourselves using our own administration [and] our own requirements – things of that nature. And I think this worked fairly well. So this year, the only thing really different is the fact that the amount of money available is down, and I'm not sure why. But it certainly has to do with the level of funds probably coming from Washington back to the State of Kansas must be down. I think, a year ago, we received just a little over 500,000 dollars, and this year I think we're looking at 483,000 dollars in federal funds – which would exchange for 434,000 dollars in payment to Butler County," Lutz said.

The funds exchange for road and bridge construction projects in the county was approved by the board.

Department on Aging Director Crystal Noles addressed the board to request the order and purchase of a van and a mini bus as replacement vehicles for the 5311 KDOT Transportation Program.

"KDOT allows us to replace the vehicles with that program. Once the vehicles reach 100,000 miles, they must be at or over 100,000 miles when we ask for our grant renewal. That's in November each year. It's another six to eight, sometimes nine, months before the vehicles are actually delivered. So if we order them this month, it'll be fall before we actually receive the vehicles. So by the time they're replaced, [they'd] still have upwards of 110,000 [to] 115,000 miles on them. We've actually asked for a replacement for two vehicles .... The vehicles that we are replacing – one is a minivan. We are replacing our minivan with a Ford [Transit], which is a full-sized van, instead of doing the minivan .... With these vehicles, the grant covers 80 percent of the cost, so we actually only have to pay for 20 percent of the vehicle cost. So with this vehicle, our cost would be 12,336 dollars. It is a little more costly than just replacing a minivan, but the difference to us is about 1,200 dollars for that – so it's not really significant," Noles said.

The cost of the replacement mini bus is close to price of the replacement van.

Noles currently oversees seven vehicles, two of which would be replaced.

"We have five mini buses, and then we have the two minivans."

Both purchases for vehicle replacements were approved by the board.

Noles also participated in a work session with the board of commissioners for expanding transportation services for the Department on Aging by being in a partnership with the Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital.

"A couple of months ago, Susan B. Allen approached me about our transportation services. One of the continuing needs that they see with their individuals at the hospital is transportation. Part of it is after hours, [and] part of it is weekends – which are things that, obviously, we can't do within our system. But the other part of that is just things like getting folks to the cancer treatment center there in El Dorado [and] getting folks to dialysis there in El Dorado with Susan B. Allen. If people live outside of the City of El Dorado, we can pick them up, and we can take them in on our way into El Dorado every morning. But as it stands, again, running the buses, we don't run back and forth between towns. So, if we picked up people in Andover and in Benton and in Towanda, they would have to stay in El Dorado all day long until the end of the day, and then we could take them home on our buses on their way back to Augusta. That just doesn't work really well, especially for our folks that need dialysis, to have to sit and wait all day. So, they wanted to see if they could possibly work with us and partner with us to expand our service. For that, they would make a monetary investment in our service. We are currently discussing about 30,000 dollars a year. That is kind of where we figured adding the service three days a week, we would have to add another driver; we would have another vehicle in service. It would be running from El Dorado at least twice a day. So, we would pick people up in the mornings, get them to their morning appointments and then take them home before noon. We could then pick up another set of individuals, get them to afternoon appointments and then take them home at the end of the day," Noles said.

The potential transportation service wouldn't be restricted to seniors or those going to the hospital; anyone in the Butler County general public could use it for transportation from town to town in due to a component of the grant requirement involved.

"The hospital seems to be okay with that. They just want to partner with us to be able to expand the service so that they can promote and get more people to get local treatment instead of traveling into Wichita. We'd be able to help coordinate with the specialists that come over here. And their role is to just kind of try to keep people in Butler County, receiving their health care here, and for them to try to be more accessible to the community. So we feel like this was a really good opportunity and a good partnership," Noles said.

The transportation service in discussion involved the hospital subsidizing a flat fee of $30,000 per year to help keep it going. In return, the Department on Aging would provide the hospital with monthly reports on ridership by listing individuals that they transport in.

"Currently, we are providing about 860 rides a year to Susan B. Allen facilities. But this, I think, would increase significantly to probably closer to 1,300 rides a year," Noles said.

Noles added that some people in Butler County who would need the hospital's services are either going to Wichita or remaining untreated. She also mentioned that the only dialysis facilities in the county are in Andover and El Dorado.

For its current transportation service, the Department on Aging operates on a demand-responsive system. It will continue to do so if the partnership with the hospital is adopted.

"What that means is that people call, we schedule them a seat on the bus, we pick them up in front of their door and we deliver them in front of the door of whatever business they are going to .... We don't run a fixed route where people have to wait at bus stops .... In our policies, we ask for our riders to give us 24 hours notice. With adding the Monday, Wednesday, Friday all over the county, much like our Wichita route, we would have to have at least 24 hours notice to be able to get people scheduled and get a route planned. But at the same time, we're about giving people rides. So, if someone calls at the last minute and we have room, we're going to go get them and take them where they need to go. And that's the flexibility that we have being demand-response," Noles said.

Riders would still pay 50 cents per ride inside the city and two dollars from town to town.

"It goes beyond being what I think most people think it is, which is a senior bus or a bus for people who are disabled. And it's not; it's general public, and it's the only form of public transportation we have in the county," Noles said.

With increased vehicle usage, Noles anticipated vehicle replacement would be about every three to four years if they drove an extra 30,000 miles per year. There was also discussion of donating a retired vehicle to the hospital at some point.

Noles will bring the item back at a later meeting for further discussion or a proposal.