At their meeting Monday, the Finney County Commission approved the county's purchase of 1.85 acres of land at the corner of Mary and Eighth Street for $125,000.

The purchase, not yet final, is being coordinated between the county and realtor Jamie Biera on behalf of Chad Elliott, said county administrator Randy Partington in an email. County staff is discussing using the vacant lot to house the Finney County Health Department, Finney County EMS or both departments at a new facility. In February, the commission agreed to research a potential joint facility for the two departments, both of which are facing space and maintenance issues with their current buildings.


A new coroner

In other business, the commission appointed St. Catherine Hospital physician Bruce Melin as district coroner for the 25th Judicial District for the remainder of 2019, following the resignation of the district's veteran coroner, Bryan Stucky. Stucky, a Plaza Medical Center physician who served as district coroner for more than 10 years, said in his resignation letter that Plaza Medical has "undergone significant changes" since being acquired last year by Centura Health, the company that owns St. Catherine Hospital.

"This is leading (to) the closure of Plaza Medical Center as an independent business entity and it is felt by the providers remaining at Plaza Medical that now is a good time to transition out of Coroner duties to focus on other areas of patient care," Stucky said in the letter.

Melin will begin after Stucky's final day on Sept. 30. He will then begin a full four-year term, spanning 2020 to 2024.


Sewer district billing

The commission also discussed billing practices for Sewer District No. 3, in response to landowners' confusion over a change of practices this year.

In 2001, the commission passed a resolution stating that the district must be billed based on lots owned. However, starting in 2002, based on a one-year consent decision by the commission, the county has instead billed residents based on parcels of land. When county engineer John Ellermann told county clerk Dori Munyan about the discrepancy, the county began billing residents again by lot. Residents whose bills were affected by the change, including Garden City police Chief Michael Utz and County Commissioner Lon Pishny, who stepped down from the board during the discussion, discussed their issues with the new practice with the commission on Monday.

The commission decided to reinstate the parcel billing practice for the rest of the year and revisit the topic in the coming months to determine how to move forward.