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Morning Sun
  • County hears noxious weed report

  • Ed Fields, Crawford County noxious weeds director, provided Crawford County Commissioners Friday with the annual report of his battles to eradicate bull thistle, field bindweed, Johnson grass, musk thistle and other noxious weeds.

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  • Ed Fields, Crawford County noxious weeds director, provided Crawford County Commissioners Friday with the annual report of his battles to eradicate bull thistle, field bindweed, Johnson grass, musk thistle and other noxious weeds.
    “Because of the drought system we did as much work as we could, and I stayed in the budget,” Fields said. “I was asked last year are we almost caught up on killing all noxious weeds. That’s not going to happen.”
    Progress has been made in some areas.
    “We have made leaps and bounds on right-of-ways,” Fields said. “We’ve had to go to some more expensive chemicals.”
    “What you’ve done on the road side is nothing but a blessing,” said commissioner Bob Kmiec.
    He has also been doing custom spraying on areas up to five acres.
    “That has been a great use to a lot of people,” Fields said. “Farmers have been using us, but not in crop areas. My chemicals don’t work good in crops. We go out and spray their water ways and get rid of the Johnson grass. This does require a lot of labor and a lot of time, but it’s getting out to the taxpayers.”
    Kansas laws require that all land owners, both public and private, are required to control and eradicate weeds on lands they own or manage, and Fields noted that those laws do have teeth.
    “I don’t want to throw them in people’s faces,” he said. “I want to work with the public. I’m a leader in the state in noxious weed education. I am open to any organization that wants a program on noxious or invasive species, at no charge.”
    The Crawford County Weed Department has recently moved to a new facility at 121 1/2 N. Ozark, Girard, and a bullpen was added to the east side of the building to hold rental equipment.
    “We’ve been using a little ATV, and with it we were able to spray at Bone Creek,” Fields said.
    He had two requests for commissioners. First, he asked for a set-amount credit card to use in making purchases over the Internet. Commissioners approved the request, promising Fields a card with a $2,500 limit.
    Fields is in his fifth year of working with the Kansas Works program to provide on-the-job training.
    “This has been a great asset to the department and the youth, and I’d like to continue that program,” he said.
    “I think it’s a great idea,” said commission chairman Tom Moody.
    “I would like to see a gentleman brought in as a full-time or part-time employee and get him EPA-licensed, as I am,” Fields said. “I have to be within 30-minute contact with the part-time employees, and right now I can’t take time off, or if something happened to me, everybody would have to shut down. An EPA-licensed employee could take that over.”
    Page 2 of 2 - He estimated that the cost to the county would be a $12,000 salary.
    “I don’t know where we’re going to get all this money for all these people,” commissioner Carl Wood said.
    Kmiec suggested that possibly someone in the county road and bridge department might be interested in getting licensed by the EPA, and would do their regular road and bridge job when they weren’t needed in noxious weeds.
    The county also heard from Eldon Bedene, emergency manager, who is retiring, but might be interested in coming back on a part-time basis.
    “Let me get away for a couple of weeks and I’ll let you know,” Bedene said. “But whoever does get this is going to need office space and clerical support.”
    Commissioners also conducted a public hearing on vacating Orchard Street, a platted street in the First Addition to Alston, Crawford County.
    “A landowner also called me to let me know they approved it,” said county counselor Jim Emerson.
     Two property owners in the area were in the audience to speak in favor of  vacating the street, and commissioners approved the request.

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