News

Thu
17
Jan
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Zabokrtsky sworn in to board of commissioners

Scott Zabokrtsky was sworn into office on Monday by county clerk Diana Svanda.

Commissioner Tim Mueller joined the Board of County Commissioners one final time Monday morning before Scott Zabokrtsky was sworn in and took over Mueller’s position shortly after the meeting was called to order. Immediately after the swearing in Mueller shook hands with the other commissioners, gave county clerk Diana Svanda a hug, and left the meeting.

Mueller just completed his four-year term and did not seek re-election to the District 1 seat on the board.

The board is now young: Two of the board’s three commissioners have joined the board in the past three months; Raleigh Ordoyne was appointed to Gary Ouellette’s seat last fall. Commissioner David Willbrant is beginning his third year on the board.

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Thu
17
Jan
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Heavy, wet snow blankets county, more forecasted for this weekend

Washington’s Munchkinland was transformed into a snowy wonderland over the weekend as 4-to-6 inches of snow fell over the county. More snow is coming. Photo by CHASE BRAZZLE / WCN

The county received anywhere from four to six inches of snow Friday night into Saturday, according to the Weather Data Library’s Mary Knapp. That snowfall had a melted equivalent of anywhere from .4 to .65 inches of rain, according to trained officials who submitted the reports. The Barnes and Greenleaf areas were on the lighter side of the snow fall while the Washington and Haddam areas recorded the larger totals.

According to official totals reported to the Weather Data Library, an area 3.7 miles east-northeast of Greenleaf recorded 4 inches of snow, an area 7.8 miles south-southeast of Greenleaf reported 4.2 inches, Barnes received 4. 3 inches of snow, the Palmer area recorded 4.5 inches and Washington recorded 4.6 inches of snow.

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Thu
17
Jan
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Zabokrtsky begins commissioner term

Scott Zabokrtsky

Scott Zabokrtsky, of Hanover, was sworn in on Monday as the county commissioner for District 1, which encompasses the Hanover, Barnes, Greenleaf and Palmer areas. He ran unopposed for the position and was elected in November. Tim Mueller, who had occupied that seat, served the district for four years and did not run for re-election.

Zabokrtsky, who lives in Hanover, has been a fulltime farmer throughout his life. He was raised in the Barnes area and went to school at Hanover. He now raises cattle, corn, soybeans and wheat in the Barnes and Greenleaf areas. His wife, Dawn, is a registered nurse in Hanover, and the couple has two children in college and one in high school.

Zabokrtsky said there was ‘no particular reason’ that he decided to run for the commissioner position.

Thu
17
Jan
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Linn, Washington County J.H. football to merge

Both the USD 108 and USD 223 school boards approved on Monday night the consolidation of their junior high football programs effective this coming fall. The consolidated team name will be Washington County because, as USD 108 superintendent Denise O’Dea told the Washington County school board, “we are all Washington County.” The board also discussed the possibility of merging the high school football teams but took no action Monday night.

O’Dea said USD 223 approached her about merging the junior high teams, and several people from both school districts met last week to discuss it. According to O’Dea, Linn expects to contribute four junior high football players in the fall, and Linn will transport the kids to Washington for practice. O’Dea said Linn would pay a fee to USD 108 for each Linn player who plays on the team, and that fee would help cover things including equipment and coaching.

Wed
09
Jan
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A Barnes cattle drive

About 140 head of cattle belonging to Johnny and Colette Rothlisberger, of Barnes, were moved down the highway and through Barnes on Jan. 4. Seven people on horseback helped move the cattle two miles from corn stalks to the farm where the cattle will soon calve. The cattle have been moved this way each fall for about five years and will spend the summer in southern Kansas. (Contributed photo)

 

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Wed
09
Jan
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Farm Service Agency on furlough

Farm Service Agency in Washington, above, is closed because of the lapse in federal funding. About 10 employees have been furloughed, and lights in the FSA portion of the building are off. NRCS, which occupies part of the building, remains open. Those who want to make payments to FSA can mail checks, but payments won’t be deposited until the entity re-opens. Producers wanting endorsements on checks for commodities sold must wait until the government office re-opens. Signs on the office door, left, notify people of the furlough.

About 10 Farm Service Agency and ag credit employees were on furlough beginning Dec. 31, according to Dee Minge, who is the supervisory district conservationist for NRCS in Washington. The partial federal government shutdown began on Dec. 22, but local FSA employees were able to work through Dec. 30 because the department didn’t run out of money until the 31st, she said.

“Due to the lapse in federal appropriations FSA offices are closed,” read a sign on the FSA office door in Washington. “NRCS is remaining open using mandatory and previously appropriated funding.”

In this latest round of partial government shutdown, the four local NRCS employees in the Washington office plus the conservation district have not been on furlough because that department has funds to cover continued service. Federal entities receive funding various ways, and Minge said the recently passed Farm Bill was key to NRCS avoiding furlough.

 

Wed
02
Jan
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One last look at the season’s holiday lights

Christmas lights in Washington were still on full display the day after Christmas, although many people began taking down holiday decor over the weekend.

 

 

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Wed
02
Jan
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County employee gets raise a year early

An error caused a county department head to receive a near-double raise throughout 2018, according to county clerk Diana Svanda. She told the Board of County Commissioners last week that the error amounted to that employee receiving about 88 cents an hour more throughout the year than she was supposed to receive. The board then spent about 45 minutes deciding how to handle the overpayment.

The pay issue involves Health Department director Tiffany Hayman. Svanda told the board that the overpayment is not Hayman’s fault.

Commissioners David Willbrant and Raleigh Ordoyne – Tim Mueller did not attend the meeting – agreed that they didn’t want to cut Hayman’s pay and decided instead that she would not get the four-percent raise the other county employees are scheduled to receive in 2019 because she already got her raise a year early.

 

 

Wed
02
Jan
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CHANGING WITH THE TIMES

Brad Nelson tore pages from books during shredding day at Twin Valley Developmental Services in Greenleaf. About half of the consumers tear pages from books while the other half shreds the pages with small shredders. Nelson and his fellow consumers do a lot of shredding to keep busy, although they sometimes do work for an area Greenhouse or for Valley Vet.

Twin Valley consumers in Greenleaf spend many of their work days shredding paper. Justin Slater, above, feeds sheets of paper through the shredder one at a time while Phyllis Smerchek, left, tears sheets from books to add to the shredding pile. Twin Valley Development Services used to contract work with a variety of businesses in the area, but most of that work disappeared about seven years ago during the recession. Twin Valley lost three main sources of work in one week, Ed Henry said, and it has never gotten those sources back.

Twin Valley Developmental Services will likely see some changes in the next 10 years because about 70 percent of the clients are over age 65, according to director Ed Henry. The organization employs about 70 people between Beattie and Greenleaf and provides employment and housing for people with developmental disabilities. Twin Valley Development Services has about 70 consumers today, down from 80 at its peak.

Henry said that while Twin Valley would like to take on additional consumers – they have two housing vacancies now – there is an 8-to-10-year waiting list state-wide for people who want to get into a place like Twin Valley. Henry said Twin Valley can’t get any funding for those consumers on the waiting list until their names come to the top of the state-wide list.

Wed
26
Dec
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County fair to move back a week

The Washington County Fair will be a week later next year. The fair has been scheduled for Tuesday, July 23, through Saturday, July 27. Pre-fair judging will be July 16. According to fair board president Ethan Schuette the date was changed to get the fair off of the same week as the state Pee Wee baseball championship as well as the same week as the Clay County Fair. The past few years Washington’s Pee Wee team has spent much of fair week traveling to the state tournament.

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