County road and bridge restructuring after director's resignation

The road and bridge department is being restructured with a goal of making the county department more efficient, according to the Jackson County Commissioners.

The restructuring was announced after Dan Barnett resigned from his position as director of the department after a 10-minute executive session with the commissioners Monday morning.

Barnett did not list a reason for his resignation in his letter, but back in open session, he told the commissioners – Keith Kelly, Dan Brenner and Ed Kathrens – that he was “very disappointed.”

“Thank you for the opportunity,” Barnett said. “We made some steps, but there are a lot more steps to go.”

Barnett began serving as the department director in April 2017, and his annual salary was $56,800. He previously worked for the Kansas Department of Transportation for more than 10 years.

In the fall of 2013, Eric Fritz and Earl Bahret were promoted to road and bridge co-supervisors and served in that role until Barnett was hired in 2017. 

On Monday afternoon, the commissioners announced that the department would be restructured with Scott Kieffaber, the county’s noxious weed and environmental services director, now serving as the “public works director.”

Last Thursday, Feb. 25, the commissioners and deputy clerk Tara Peek spent five hours traveling roads in the county together with Mike Perkins, a field liaison with the Kansas Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP).

Supported by the Federal Highway Administration and the Kansas Department of Transportation, LTAP provides free consultation to counties to help them better address road issues.

The commissioners and Perkins traveled over county roads in all three commission districts.

“He evaluated the conditions of the roads and provided insight on the best management practices to be successful,” Commissioner Kelly said. 

The commissioners said they want the county to be “more aggressive” on addressing road issues.

“We want to have a proactive approach as opposed to being reactive,” Commissioner Brenner said. “That’s the direction that we, as commissioners, want to pursue.”

The commissioners met with Kieffaber and road and bridge employees Fritz, Bryson Bain, Wade Cormier and Terry Mick on Monday afternoon to discuss the restructuring.

As public works director, Kieffaber will oversee equipment purchases and other additional duties.

(For more on this story, please log in to your account and click on the March 10, 2021 E-edition.)

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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