Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Changes In The Sheriff's Office

New Look For Deputy Staff After Firing

On July 6, the Kimball County Commissioners met to conduct the regular business of the county.

Staffing changes have occurred at the sheriff’s office, with part-timer Brandon Loy assuming the duties of chief deputy. Other deputies are Marla Knigge and newly deputized candidate Cole Saunders, who was sworn in on June 8.

Saunders is expected to attend the Police Academy in Grand Island in January 2022. The county is responsible for room/board, supplies, ammo, uniforms, officer’s salary, and transportation to the academy. Saunders signed the training contract at the commissioner’s meeting.

A vacancy also exists in the sheriff’s department.

After meeting with the commissioners, Sheriff Harry Gillway confirmed to the Observer that Deputy Dave Hottell, having served three years with the Kimball County Sheriff’s Office, was terminated on June 29. No reason was given. Hottell began his employment with Kimball County on May 1, 2018.

Meanwhile, County Road Superintendent Randy Bymer has returned from vacation and talked with the foremen about the previous weeks, and he was updated about happenings on the roads.

Bymer reported that the Road 14 project has been completed and is being graveled. Bymer also said two graders are scheduled for repairs.

While Bymer was gone, Commissioner Larry Engstrom said he received two phone calls about washboardy roads and said at the meeting that the roads are “beating up pickups and cars.”

Now that the Road 14 project is done, Bymer said they should get caught up on grading roads.

The administrator from Kimball County Manor, Shannon Monheiser, asked the commissioners to approve the appointment of Dianne Pruett to the manor board. Pruett would be replacing Joelle Walker, who was hired as social services director for the manor. Pruett was approved by the commissioners to complete Walker’s term on the board.

Monheiser briefly summarized manor happenings. The staff is still being tested for COVID on a weekly basis. The manor is offering two Saturday visits for their residents’ families in addition to the weekday visits. Manor officials are trying to accommodate as many families as possible.

The manor will be open for appointments on July 10 and 24. Families may call and make appointments, but they must follow all the rules and protocols for COVID.

Monheiser also has asked to be a member of the COVID money committee in the hopes that the manor would be able to access some of the funds provided to the county by the federal government. They currently are unable to use two patient rooms due to the massive amounts of PPE they need to store. The manor is hoping to obtain funding for a storage building on the premises.

A lengthy discussion occurred among the commissioners about the COVID money that the country will receive. Few rules or information has been released from the federal government about how, when and where to spend the over $700,000 that the county is expected to receive.

Amber Sweetland, director of the city’’s Kimball Public Library, met with the commissioners to report on the previous year and to request $15,000 for next year to help supplement the library budget as the commissioners begin to enter into the budget process.

Next in line for a few minutes of the commissioners’ time was Jessica Rocha from the Visitors Center. She presented the commissioners with a bid for a security system. In addition to a security system, the center would need to upgrade its internet provider for the security feed to be sent directly to the sheriff’s office. The manor item was tabled until more information could be presented.

Region 21 Emergency Manager Ron Leal also provided an update on the Red Cross Emergency Shelter located in the Kimball County Transit building. Cots and blankets have been received by the facility.

County Transit Service Director Christy Warner discussed marketing and a website redesign for the transit system. It was approved by the commissioners. In an effort to promote transit usage, the state and federal government have made marketing 100% reimbursable. So the county will experience no loss of funds as a result of the redesign.

Homeland Security is providing a security checks for agencies to help combat the recent cyber hackers. Kimball County is scheduled to participate in this security check, according to Warner.

The next meeting of the Kimball County Commissioners is Tuesday, July 20 at 9 a.m.

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