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Lyon County Commissioners, shown above at a previous meeting, met with Ruth Wheeler about courtroom updates Thursday.

The Lyon County Commission approved payments concerning the infrastructure of three area radio towers during a regularly-scheduled action session Thursday morning.

The construction project will update tower sites near Olpe and Admire as well as Westar’s Lang Substation, adding fencing, concrete shelters and new generators as needed with assistance from Topeka-based Hayden Tower Service, Inc. The total cost is expected to be in the neighborhood of $400,000 and updates may be completed as soon as Thanksgiving. Money for the project was taken from the county’s multi-year fund, which operates in part through local sales tax fees.

Lyon County Emergency Management Director Jarrod Fell said recent severe storms stressed the importance of maintaining area utilities to achieve better communication and ensure citizen safety.

“We do want to protect our investments,” Fell said. “At the end of the day, that’s what we’re trying to do. For matters of public safety, everything should really be backed up. Recent storms were a great example of why we need those generators backed up. When the electricity went off, we lost communication in several areas ...

“Some of our [tower] buildings in the county are in pretty poor shape, and we should be replacing those with the investment we’ve made for the equipment inside them. Besides storms, you have wildfire season, so having concrete buildings will protect those things even more, because a lot of our tower sites are in pastures.”

In other business, Lyon County Community Corrections Director Steve Willis approached commissioners to receive permission to apply for the 2020 Federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. The grant money — which will be approximately $43,600 upon approval — will be put toward providing drug testing, translation services and transportation for those utilizing court services.

“We want to make sure we’re addressing any addictions to help rehabilitate those that we’re working with,” Willis said. “The drug testing that we pay for allows us to identify if there is addiction or any of those associated behavioral patterns, which means we have to drug test a lot, especially in the beginning. Those costs can add up for probationers that are already strapped financially. This grant allows us to have every single probationer, adult and juvenile, tested multiple times each week without them having to pay. If we’re able to identify a pattern, it allows us to put them in our Drug Court program.

“With our area’s population, there are also needs for interpreters. This grant helps cover that as well. Transportation is always a huge issue, too. We have our bike program that helps out our population, but there are times when something else is needed, so this will also allow us to purchase bus passes, taxi vouchers and that kind of stuff to help get probationers where they need to go.”

During the meeting, commissioners also:

• Approved adult and juvenile Kansas Department of Corrections reimbursement budgets for fiscal year 2020

• Approved an insurance payment to IMA Select in the amount of $36,000

• Approved warrants payable in the amount of $557,811.40

• Approved payroll payable in the amount of $269,113.11

• Approved payroll withholdings payable in the amount of $197,099.59

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