Members of the Leavenworth County Commission said Monday it was crucial to continue participation in the meetings and committees of the Mid America Regional Council.
The subject emerged because of the recent election of a new commission chairman, Bob Holland, and the swearing in of new Commissioner Dennis Bixby, who took the place of John Flower on the three-member commission.
“Commissioner Flower was our voting member and attended all the time,” said County Administrator Pat Hurley.
According to MARC’s bylaws, the chairman of the commission is automatically named a voting member of the nine-county planning organization’s board of directors. But the county gets two voting members, both of whom have to be elected officials. Bixby said that means it could be a representative from one of the cities’ governments.
“It just has to be somebody, I think, who’s willing to make the commitment to be there whenever we can,” he said.
That’s because, Bixby said, a good portion of grants are passed through MARC for transportation projects or regional initiatives. For example, he said he had hear information recently about parking spot shortages at Fort Leavenworth and of some discussion of a park and ride facility as a potential solution.
“Right now, (MARC) is going through a 5-county transportation thing and part of that is public transportation,” he said. “They’re not even talking about Leavenworth County anywhere in that.”
Hurley said the county has representatives on some of MARC’s numerous committees — including Public Works Director Mike Spickelmier on the transportation committee and Planning and Zoning Director Jeff Joseph on the sustainability committee — but still, he said the county recently found itself recently among a small number of counties — maybe the only county — without a submitted project on a regional trail initiative.
“There wasn’t the funding match required, so we didn’t submit,” Hurley said.
Hurley and Bixby both said that inclusion on some of those lists and in those initiatives depends to some extent on filling the roster of the county’s delegation to MARC and getting those delegations to attend the organization’s meetings.
“It’s all about relationships,” Bixby said.
With Commissioner Clyde Graeber absent from the meeting, the commissioners took no action to appoint new members to that delegation. But Hurley did encourage them to do so on Thursday when he returns.