A day of changes
Board gets new look as 2011 session starts
Monday may have been a snow day for many people in Leavenworth County, but it was a day full of changes for the Leavenworth County Commission as the board received a new commissioner and named a new chairman.
Bob Holland took the oath of office, administered by 1st District Judge Dan Wiley, and was sworn in as the newest Leavenworth County Commissioner at 11:30 a.m. Monday.
A crowd made up of county officials and employees, friends and family gathered in the county commissioners' meeting room for the ceremony at the county courthouse in Leavenworth.
"I want to thank you all for coming today," Holland said to the audience after he was sworn in. "I want to thank my three daughters for their support through the campaign, and, of course, all my friends, who talked me into doing this."
Holland, a Republican from rural Leavenworth County, said he'd begun the process of learning about his duties as a county commissioner, and he knew he still had much to learn.
"I've enjoyed running for this office, and I'm looking forward to getting to work, and hopefully we can change a few things," Holland said.
When the new board met for the first time in the afternoon, Holland's first action as a commissioner was to nominate commissioner Clyde Graeber as the chairman of the commission for 2011. The motion passed, 3-0.
Graeber, a Leavenworth Republican, has served in the past as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, state treasurer and secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. First elected to the county commission in 2004, he is in his second term.
After Graeber took the helm of the meeting, he immediately got down to business as the commissioners tackled other issues for the new board, including setting its meeting schedule, asking for proposals for the official county newspaper and appointing commissioners to serve on various boards.
One of the first major tasks for the new board will be to hire a county administrator. The commissioners will meet in executive session after Thursday's regular meeting to begin narrowing down the list of more than 60 candidates for the position.
Holland will replace J.C. Tellefson as the 1st District commissioner, representing the northern part of the county.
Earlier in the morning, about 9:25 a.m., Tellefson announced the final adjournment of the previous board of commissioners to applause from the other two commissioners and others in attendance.
It marked the end of Tellefson's four-year term in office. Shortly before the adjournment, Tellefson made a few thank-yous.
"I did want to say, 'Thank you very much,' " Tellefson said to the crowd that included Holland, county clerk Janet Klasinski and Wanda Doty, executive secretary for the commissioners. "The people I want to say 'thank you' to are all here."
Tellefson acknowledged that he hadn't always made things easier for the people with whom he worked.
"About a year ago, 18 months ago, you made a comment," Tellefson said, gesturing toward commissioner John Flower, "that it may be frustrating, but at the end of the day we do sort of walk out of here laughing a little bit, and that's probably the preeminent issue, that we do respect each other."
After the 2011 board convened for the first time in the afternoon, the commissioners:
• Settled several housekeeping matters for 2011. They voted to keep the current regular meeting times of 9 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, to keep the same list of official depositories for county funds with Commerce Bank remaining the chief depository and to continue scheduling the examination of county bills for the fourth Monday of each month. All votes were 3-0.
• Voted, 3-0, to establish quarterly evening meetings for public comment in the southern part of the county, alternating between Tonganoxie and Basehor. They declined to continue holding evening meetings in Leavenworth.
“The ones here in Leavenworth have been, frankly, non-attended meetings,” Graeber said. “The ones that we held down in Basehor and Tonganoxie have at least been semi-worthwhile, even though the same people usually attend.”
• Voted, 3-0, to direct staff to prepare a request for proposals to be named the official county newspaper for 2011.
The Mirror is the current official county newspaper.
Commissioner John Flower said he wanted to make sure that, whichever newspaper the county chose, residents in all parts of the county be given the opportunity to access official county announcements and publications.
“Currently we have Tonganoxie as the official paper, and that's well and good for a portion of our county,” Flower said. “But I think the distribution of that newspaper in the northern climes is probably a little sparse at best.”
Klasinski said the county already publishes many important announcements, including those regarding elections, in the Leavenworth Times as well as The Mirror.
• Entered into executive session with County Counselor David Van Parys for 20 minutes to discuss potential litigation involving the county.
In Monday's morning session, the commission authorized, 3-0, Tellefson to sign probation services contracts with the cities of Tonganoxie, Basehor, Leavenworth and Lansing.
In Thursday's session, the commission approved, 3-0, the final version of the letter from the commissioners to the Kansas Department of Transportation regarding the potential realignment of Kansas Highway 5 and the possibility of the highway becoming a toll road.