GIRARD — The Crawford County Commission continued gathering information on health insurance options at its meeting Thursday.

The commission met with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas Representative Cristy Mitchell, who provided the commission with a comparison of the county’s health insurance costs, claims and premiums from 2016 to 2017. Mitchell also provided the cost differences between the county’s current self-insured plan and a fully-insured plan.

The price of premiums between the two different styles were similar — something Mitchell said she did not expect.

“I originally thought putting you on a fully-insured plan with the high claimants in your group would make the premium much higher,” she said. “But they are very close.”

A fully-insured plan would also take away the county’s ability to build reserves, as well as basing premiums for yearly renewal on only the past 12 months, not a three-year average — the way the current self-insured plan premiums are figured.

However, a fully-insured plan would make budgeting easier on the county’s end as monthly costs are easier to figure.

In other business, Southeast Kansas Humane Society Board President Mary Kay Caldwell provided the commission with an update on the SEK Humane Society shelter and asked for the county’s assistance with upcoming projects.

The humane society has flooding issues at the shelter, and Caldwell said County Floodplain Manager Ron Albertini had inspected the property.

“The ground slopes the water straight to the building,” Albertini said. “It could be a real challenge to fix it, there’s a large volume of water coming through there when it rains.”

Shelter Director Kelci Cooper said the water has been a hazard to animals and caused the shelter to close during regular business hours.

“We’ve had to close because water comes into the lobby,” she said. “It has been over people’s feet and gotten back into the area with the animals as well.”

Albertini told the county he would need to use a skid steer and mini excavator to adjust the lay of the land and hopefully divert water away from the building.

The commission authorized use of the equipment, and said it would look at helping mow large parts of the property, as well as spraying the shelter’s walking trail for weeds.

The commission met with Asphalt Foreman Randy Chiartano and the CFS inspector overseeing the bridge project on Centennial Avenue. The county approved a change order for the project, extending the deadline for the contractor 11 days.

The inspector reported the crew may request an additional deadline extension stemming from weather delays, but Commissioner Carl Wood said he does not want to provide anymore days unless the pace of the work increases.

“He’s working with a small crew,” Chiartano said. “They are working and know what they’re doing, but it’s time to step up and get some more guys out there to pick up the pace.”

If the project extends over the allotted amount of days, the contractor will pay $500 per day in damages back to the county.

Commissioner Jeff Murphy reported the City of Walnut had requested the county’s help installing a 12-inch culvert at an intersection inside the city. The culvert would help access to Beachner Grain, which is planning to expand.

“I don’t want to set the precedent of putting in culverts for everybody,” Murphy said. “But I’d like to do this one because it’s economic development that benefits the community.”

The City of Walnut will pay for the materials, but requested installation help from the county’s road crew. The county approved workers to install the culvert.

Emergency Manager Jason VanBecelaere announced the Emergency Management Office will host a retirement party for Eldon Bedene — who has worked for Crawford County Emergency Management for over 40 years — Monday.

The celebration will be from 9 a.m. to noon at 131 E. Prairie Street in Girard.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.