County attorney search begins

James accepts state job regulating amusement parks

By Deb Hadachek Telescope editor

The search is on for a new Republic County Attorney.

Marlea James, who has served as county attorney nine years, submitted her official resignation Monday to Republic County Commissioners. November 12 is her last day at work.

James has been hired by the Kansas Department of Labor to head up a new department that will oversee amusement parks, carnivals and other recreational venues in Kansas.

Republic County Republican Central Committee Chairman Carolyn Simms said a convention has been called for Friday, November 7 at 7 p.m. in the Republic County District Courtroom to consider candidates for the position. A little more than three years is left in James’ term.

A county attorney must be licensed to practice law in Kansas but does not have to be a resident of Republic County, of Kansas–or a Republican, Simms said.

“The only stipulation is that they are licensed in Kansas,” she said.

“A (county attorney) candidate does not have to be party-specific.”

The county attorney serves as a local prosecutor of criminal cases, and also county counselor for the Republic County Commission and other county government agencies. Republican precinct committee men and women from each township will choose the new county attorney at the convention. The convention is open to the public, Simms said, but only committeemen and women can vote.

“I worked diligently to make sure there were committee men and women in each precinct in the last election just for this reason,” Simms said.

Any attorneys interested in the position can call Simms at 785-527-0292 for information on the process.

New position

James said the new position will allow her to utilize not only her law degree, but her undergrad degree in engineering.

“After the tragedy at the Schlitterbahn in Kansas City, the state wants to enact new legislation regulating amusement ride in Kansas,” James said. The 10-year-old son of a state legislator was killed at the Kansas City water park in 2016 on a ride called the Verruckt, which was billed as the world’s largest water slide. The Verruckt has been permanently closed.

James said she expects the new department to regulate and audit everything from amusement parks to summer fairs and carnivals to zipline courses.

“Hopefully, at the end of the day, both (my old and new job) help keep people safe,” she said. James will continue to live in Belleville and said she would be available to help with the transition for a new county attorney.

She asked commissioners to appoint Jennifer O’Hare, Lincoln County Attorney, to continue a specific Child in Need of Care case, and Kay Prather, an attorney in Jewell County, to work on the appeal of a case that involves alleged violations by Darrick Klima of the Kansas Registered Offender Act.

She also told commissioners that former county attorney secretary Candace Fielder delivered documents Friday to fi e suit for a delinquent property tax sale.