Before the terms of former Commissioners Florence Whitebread and Larry Hicks ended at noon, they authorized the hiring of Steve Opat as the County Counselor.
Opat served as the County Commission’s legal counsel during his tenure as County Attorney. In recent years, the job of legal counsel to the Commission was turned over to Lloyd Graham who also handled juvenile cases in the Prosecutor’s office.
Opat decided not to seek re-election as County Attorney in 2016 – Krista Blaisdell took the Oath of Office on Monday, January 9th officially beginning work as the new County Attorney.
After this was reported on air on 1420 KJCK, community members expressed concern about why the County Attorney would no legal serve as legal counsel to the Commission.
Geary County Commission Chair Ben Bennett has provided JC Post with information regarding the County’s decision to hire full time legal counsel.
“It’s not normal for the County Attorney to be the County Counselor, we were one of the only ones left in the State that were still operating that way…they are two distinct duties and two distinct disciplines…[we] can appoint the County Counselor from any licensed attorney in the State that has a Kansas license and it does not have to be the County Attorney, and it isn’t the County Attorney in most of the 105 counties,” said Bennett.
Bennett will be a guest on JC Now on 1420 KJCK – The Talk of JC Thursday, January 12th at 7:20 am.
If you have questions for the County Commission Chairman leave them in the comments and they will be considered to be addressed on air Thursday.