March 9 – Ottawa Herald
By Marissa Ventrelli The Ottawa Herald
At the March 9 Franklin County Commission meeting, County Sheriff Jeff Richards announced several new developments within the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
According to Richards, Franklin County Undersheriff Kiel Lasswell has been accepted into the Department of Homeland Security’s Leadership Academy and will travel to Washington, DC, in late March. Richards himself will attend a newly created second level of the National Sheriff’s Institute, a weeklong course hosted by the National Institute of Corrections at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. Richards said he was attending the first level of the Institute for several years and learned valuable information about things like prison operations, court security and criminal investigations. “We are focused on training and making sure we stay ahead of what is happening with trends in our industry, and [programs like NSI] are a big part of it,” Richards said.
Richards also mentioned a new Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center initiative to create a state credentialing program for law enforcement officers, as Kansas is one of 14 states that currently have no no such program. Along with two other county sheriffs, three chiefs and a state police agency chief, Richards has been chosen to serve on a board that will decide the standards that must be met to receive accreditation for the KLETC program.
Commissioner Ianne Dickinson also asked Richards to summarize a resolution from the state legislature, which would change a section of the Kansas Constitution and require counties to elect a sheriff every four years. While most counties already elect their sheriffs, several have proposed getting rid of sheriff elections and appointing sheriffs instead, which upset many members of the public.
“We believe [the resolution] is the best way for people to maintain their voice and who they would choose to serve in this position,” Richards said.
The resolution passed the House and was heard by a Senate committee on Thursday. If it passes by a 2/3 majority, it will move on to the November ballot for voters to decide.
In other cases, Commissioners:
• Approved the 2022 noxious weed control plan and eradication report
• Discussed their upcoming retreat, which was on Thursday and Friday – Commissioner Derek Brown said the annual retreats “create a really effective forum, and we can get a lot of information out in a short time”
• Heard from Director of Public Works David Lee about what his department has been up to over the past week: repairing damaged rail in an accident on Thomas Road, completing tree removal and ditching at Thomas Road and Nebraska Terrace, burning piles of brush in the rights-of-way and preparing snowplows for Thursday’s storm.
Lee also mentioned that Public Works has purchased cargo containers to store refurbished bikes for the county’s Adopt-a-Bike program, and they will soon be ready for use.
• I heard Commissioner Dickinson speak about the funeral of former Director of Zoning and Planning, Larry Walrod, on March 5, which was attended by a large number of county employees. Dickinson also mentioned that the City of Ottawa voted to match Franklin County’s $2,000 donation to Hope House as part of an initiative with the Franklin County Development Council to reserve hotel rooms. to the homeless in case of bad weather.
The Franklin County Board of Commissioners meets at the Franklin County Annex in Ottawa on Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m.