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Bruce Boettcher of BG Consultants discusses the Cottonwood River dam with Chase County Commissioners Randy Talkington, Tony Hazelton and Matt Miller. County Clerk Connie Pretzer was also present.

Representatives from BG Consultants, along with members of the city of Cottonwood Falls City Council spoke with the Chase County Commission Monday morning about the need for repairs at the Cottonwood River dam.

The dam, which was originally constructed of wood in the 1860s, and later replaced with limestone and concrete in 1906, has been the cause of concern since 2013 when deterioration became visible on the outside. The deterioration has been monitored over the years.

Leaks, issues with the dam’s structural integrity, retaining walls collapsing or threatening to collapse and constant log jams have plagued the dam since. In 2018, the city of Cottonwood Falls began researching possible funding opportunities to aid in the repair and renovation of the dam and even held a public meeting related to the issue.

Mayor Buddy Sisson told Chase County commissioners this week that, a few years ago, it was unknown how much of an impact the dam had on the county’s water supply. However subsequent research has shown that, should the dam fail, there are a number of existing wells that would be affected.

Bruce Boettcher of BG Consultants told commissioners that his firm has been monitoring deterioration and looking for scour points along the northwest side of the dam from the pedestrian bridge. Previously, a hole of about 15- to 20-feet deep was measured downstream facing the dam and there was a possibility that it does reach the bridge.

The pedestrian bridge itself has experienced “heavy deterioration” as well as erosion of its concrete footing.

“That is a real concern,” he said. “There’s enough horizontal pressure that’s keeping the blocks together, but it is a fail-safe.”

When it comes to the low water dam itself, Boettcher said the structural integrity of the existing foundation needed to be addressed.

City council member Pat Larkin said the city had secured $600,000 in funding from the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parts and Tourism for damn repairs. The funding comes with a stipulation that the dam provides a fish passage channel downstream.

Boettcher presented several options ranging from $1 — 8 million, all of which had been priced back in 2018. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if the quotes were now increased by 25% or more, due to the increases in materials.

Still, there are more funding sources available other than the KDWPT grants, he said.

Commissioners took no action, but instead asked Sisson to keep them apprised of any developments in funding sources or further needs with the project.

UTV purchase

In other business, Chase County Fire Chief Steve Fillmore presented a request to purchase a pre-owned UTV from the National Park Service for $4,000. He said Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve was preparing to purchase three new UTVs by March 1, 2022 and had given him the opportunity to look at a 2014 model that was no longer needed.

Typically those models go for $12,000 on the used market.

“The last three or four years we’ve been discussing buying a UTV,” he said. “It just wasn’t feasible for us to do.”

Fillmore said the UTV would be available to anyone in emergency services — not just the fire department.

Fillmore also presented a request to approve a $6,700 purchase of a generator for the Matfield Green Fire Station. Nearly half of that total — $3,000 — will be donated by the city of Matfield Green.

County clerk Connie Pretzer said the city would just need to send a check to the county.

Emergency plan

Emergency Manager Scott Wiltse presented an update on the county’s emergency plan which he said was mostly complete other than waiting on some information from KDWPT about using a water pull site for fire emergencies. With the presence of zebra mussels, Wiltse said there was a concern about the possible spread of the invasive species to other areas.

Wiltse said he wanted to go ahead and submit the plan since it was just a small part of the overall document.

Chairman Tony Hazelton signed the document.

Wiltse also provided an update on FEMA flood plain mapping procedures which will be changing in the coming months. Because “generally” resolutions are not to the landowner’s liking, a final map will now be sent out to the emergency manager and county commission starting March 2022.

The commission also:

Discussed health insurance quotes from Bukaty Co. and CornerStone for possible changes to the county employee health plan.

Discussed a possible copier lease contract with 360 Documents.

The commission will next meet at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 29 at the courthouse.

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