GIRARD — The Crawford County Commission canvassed votes from the City of Pittsburg special sales tax election before its regular meeting Monday.

County Clerk Don Pyle presented a total of 10 provisional ballots, nine of which were accepted and scanned. The nine ballots did not change the outcome of the election, with residents voting nearly 3-1 in favor of the sales tax for street maintenance.

In other business, Live Well Crawford County Director Brad Stroud presented an update on the high tunnel.

“Last week, about 400 cucumbers were pulled out and taken to Wesley House and the Lord’s Diner,” Stroud said. “Squash and onions are also getting ready to be harvested.”

Stroud also announced Live Well has been selected as one of 18 communities to receive a Healthy Communities Initiative grant from the Kansas Health Foundation. The grant $75,000 per year for three years, and Live Well will use the money to research ways to improve access to healthy foods and health care in the county, based on socio-economic status and geographic location.

The grant stipulates that a community liaison must be hired to manage the grant. The liaison’s salary and benefits will be paid using funds from the grant, but Stroud requested the person be hired as a county employee — therefore under the county’s benefits, even though the costs would be paid through the grant.

“If we can’t hire them as a county employee, they have to be an independent contractor,” Stroud said. “Which we can do, but we lose the control to set working hours and other working requirements.”

Commissioner Carl Wood said he did not want to take on another person under the county’s benefits plan with the current issues they county has seen.

The commission agreed to house the employee in Stroud’s office — giving them access to a work space and internet — but would prefer they be hired as an independent contractor.

Commissioner Tom Moody thanked Stroud for aggressively seeking out and obtaining grants like the HCI grant. Wood agreed.

County Counselor Jim Emerson presented the commission with a contract agreement from IMA Consulting. The benefits consulting group, which is based in Wichita, has met with the county to discuss contracting for consulting services with the county.

“They offer more of a full-service operation, and the City of Pittsburg has been happy with the work they have done for them,” Emerson said. “With the way the insurance has been, it may be good to have a more involved group working with us.”

The commission authorized and signed the agreement with IMA Consulting, as well as authorizing Emerson to draft a termination letter to Gallagher Benefits Services, which had previously consulted for the county.

The commission moved its regular Friday meeting to Thursday, June 20. Friday will be the deadline for bids to be submitted for the construction of two road and bridge department buildings, and the commission will open the bids June 25.

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