Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 26 December 2006 18:00Discussion and sometimes dissent were common themes in county government in 2006, with issues including the construction of a new corrections center, zoning regulations for rural residential properties, disagreements about water-quality strategies and changes in personnel-old and new.
Meanwhile, most communities across the county made strides toward progress during the year.
Marion County Emergency Medical Services director Darryl Thiesen reported that four of the five school districts in the county now have automatic external defibrilators that "just about anyone" can use to restore a normal heartbeat and even save a life. The only school without one, Centre, was expected to get one soon.
In response to extremely dry conditions and dormant grasses, county commissioners decided Marion County should join several other counties in banning outdoor burning until further notice.
USD 408 superintendent Lee Leiker told the Marion City Commission that to qualify for 32 percent state aid for the $1.3 million gymnasium/swimming pool complex, the district can only build the indoor swimming pool instead of having an outdoor pool with it, as was originally planned.
During the annual bald-eagle count at Marion Reservoir, park ranger Neil Whitaker made an unusual sighting of two swans at the lake. The birds have normal ranges in regions north of here.
County commissioners, in a letter to the county's Planning Commission, decided it will favor allowing three-acre residential plots anywhere in the county. The Planning Commission had favored a minimum size of five acres.
Members of the Marion County Fair Association board told county commissioners they questioned adding new bleachers and future development at the fairgrounds in Hillsboro without clear indications from the city that its interests include keeping the fair.
The Marion City Commission was told the Chingawassa Days celebration in June will feature The Guess Who as its marquee band.
Peabody-Burns seventh-grader Andrew Sheffler correctly spelled "antebellum" and "primal" to end a lengthy battle with Goessel sixth-grader D'Ambra Kruger and win the annual Marion County Spelling Bee.
County commissioners signed a letter faxed to State Rep. Don Dahl in the hope that the legislator could get Marion County included in a bill that might enable financing bonds for building a new corrections center.
County commissioners heard concerns from four City of Peabody representatives about the potential expansion of a feedlot two miles from the city. Commissioners said they felt they couldn't take action on the issue because it could conflict with their role regarding applications for zoning changes.
More than 60 people filled the courtroom in the county courthouse for a discussion about the proposed correction center. Participants seemed to agree that something needed to be done about the aging county jail, but several people, including car dealers from Hillsboro, voiced opposition to the idea of funding a new center with a county-wide sales tax increase.
Marion County received word it has been eliminated as a potential site for a new Westar Energy plant. Reportedly, the Florence area had been on the list of potential locations.
About 75 people attended a candidates forum for prospective members of the newly created Marion City Council. Participating in the forum were Gene Winkler, Darvin Markley, Jerry Kline, Bill Holdeman, Max Hayen, Jim Davis, Jim Crofoot and Stacey Collett.
Bud Meisel, instructor of instrumental music in the Goessel schools, was named the 2006 Kansas Outstanding Musical Educator of the Year by the Kansas Music Educators Association.
Local and state officials met in Marion to discuss water-quality issues at Marion Reservoir. Participants talked about how the group should proceed in its quest to secure a grant for a water-quality study at the lake.
About 65 people attended a "town hall meeting" in Marion to discuss underage drinking. The meeting was sponsored by the Communities In Schools program.
A tornado that passed through northwest Marion County struck two homes near Durham. One of the homes was rented by George and Sondra Gore; the other was an unhabited house owned by Mary Helen Becker.
Marion County Commission Chairman Dan Holub said he was fired earlier in the day from his job at a Marion implement dealership because customers opposed to his position on allowing smaller acreages for rural housing threatened to take their business elsewhere.
Gene Winkler, Stacey Collett, Bill Holdeman and Jerry Kline were sworn in as the first members elected to the newly established Marion City Council.
The American All-Star Circus made a one-day stop in Marion. The circus included horse and dog acts as well as elephants and acrobatics.
Another spell of dry weather prompted county commission to reinstate a burn ban.
David Brazil announced he would be resigning from his multiple roles as planning and zoning director, environmental health officer and transfer station director effective May 8. He had accepted a similar position in Cowley County.
Thirty or so city officials and promoters of economic development who attended a public hearing agreed that Marion County needs economic and population growth as soon as possible. There was less agreement that the county needs a county economic development director to accomplish that. The public meeting was called by the county commissioners.
Three years after losing their post office, residents of Tampa are trying to bring one back to the small community in northern Marion County. Residents expressed frustration that their efforts have so far gone rewarded.
Rollin Schmidt was named interim director of the county's transfer station following the departure of David Brazil. Schmidt will add those duties to his existing job as director of the noxious weed department.
Members of the Peabody community were challenged to contribute toward the purchase of a thermal-imagining camera at a June 10 fund-raiser. The target goal was $10,000 to $12,000.
The Goessel school board voted to begin all-day kindergarten this fall.
Four puppies from the Tampa farm of Jonas and Kim Frantz were "hired" as actors for a movie titled "More Than Puppy Love 2: Shadows of Attica." The filming took place near Westin, Mo.
In response to federal mandates, five traditional polling sites in low-population areas of Marion County were eliminated as the Aug. 1 primary nears. The consolidation would affect 923 registered voters.
Remote-control vehicle enthusiasts combined their talent and resources to create the Rock Shop Ruins RC Raceway near the Rock Shop business located at the intersection of 120th and Nighthawk.
Bobbi Strait began work as the new director of planning, zoning and environmental health for Marion County. She had been filling a similar role in Seward County.
The Marion County Special Education Cooperative hired a consultant from an architectural firm to explore options for relocating its program from the former Florence school facilities.
The following week, the Marion-Florence board of education announced it would resist efforts to relocate the MCSEC program from Florence. If the MCSEC board decided to move the program, Marion would withdraw from the county-wide consortium.
County commissioners said they would be aiming for April 7, 2007, as the date for a county-wide vote to fund a new corrections center. In the meantime, they would continue to look for additional funding sources.
Some 237 walkers and 20 teams enabled Relay for Life of Marion County to surpass its record fund-raising goal of $34,000 during this year's event in Marion.
Peggy Blackman, coordinator of the watershed restoration project at Marion Reservoir, made a plea that cities in the county contribute to the matching funds needed to conduct a study about water quality at the lake.
The Envirothon team from Peabody-Burns High School qualified to represent Kansas at the international competition in Winnipeg, Man. The team placed 24th there.
U.S. Rep Jerry Moran, R-Kan., presented the community of Burns with his "Building Better Communities" award Aug. 15. The award recognized local efforts such as turning the former post office into a public library in 2006, as well as the construction of a new community center in 2003.
Triple-digit temperatures didn't keep throngs of people from attending the annual Threshing Days celebration in Goessel.
The community of Lincolnville marked the opening of new its 100-foot-by-50-foot community center Aug. 13. The facility was built with a KANSTEP grant of $181,000 and a community contribution of $121,000 in materials and "sweat equity."
County commissioners said they would need a tax increase of 3.348 mills to balance the 2007 budget, thanks in part to increases in oil prices.
Steamy temperatures lowered attendance at this year's Marion County Fair, but planners considered it a success. Chris Hamm won this year's demolition derby.
Thirteen-year-old Landon Leiker of Marion received area media attention for his efforts to research and preserve the historical features of Marion County Lake.
The Marion City Council approved an investment of $10,000 to help St. Luke Hospital recruit a third physician.
County commissioners agreed to pick up the entire $75,200 tab for the local share of a matching grant to finance a water-quality study at Marion Reservoir. The decision was made after the Hillsboro City Council voted not to contribute to the effort.
Northview Developmental Services, which serves people with developmental disabilities in Marion County, was notified by the state that its license was pulled and it must close its facilities by Sept. 30.
Marion native Molly Holub, a specialist assigned to the Army's Fourth Armored Division in Iraq, was injured when an improvised explosive device blew up nearby while she was on assignment with a military police company.
Marion's Art in the Park, featuring its festival-like atmosphere, enjoyed another successful year, according to organizers.
The county commissioners placed Emergency Medical Services director Darryl Thiesen on six-months probation following a half hour of executive sessions for personnel. The probation reportedly was related to administrative issues.
The Marion City Council approved a $1.487 million bond for a major upgrade of its water-treatment facility.
The 100-year anniversary of the construction of the Marion County Courthouse was the central theme at this year's Old Settlers Day activities in Marion.
Traci Robb, park ranger at Marion Reservoir, said water levels have reached the lowest point in several years because of prolonged drought conditions.
County Clerk Carol Maggard told commissioners the county valuation used to calculate the tax levy increased by $966,933 since July to a new high of $99,619,045.
The Marion City Council announced it will build a 10,000-square-foot speculation building in Batt Industrial Park as a way to entice a new company to Marion.
Teresa Huffman began working Nov. 1 as the newly appointed secretary for economic development in Marion County. She has a background in banking and development.
A relatively small donation from the Marion City Council completed a fund drive to purchase a thermal-imaging camera for the local fire department. Because of "a tremendous response" from the private sector, the council's donation would enable the department to purchase a higher-grade camera.
Marion County voters countered statewide trends in two key races. The county gave a majority of its vote in the gubernatorial race to Republican candidate and its own state senator Jim Barnett; incumbent Kathleen Sebelius won reelection by about 20 percentage points. A majority of voters also supported incumbent Phill Klein, who lost to challenger Paul Morrison in the race for attorney general.
Bill Meyer, longtime publisher and editor of the Marion County Record, died Nov. 14 at age 81.
The Marion City Council accepted a construction bid from Flaming Metal Systems of $128,780 to build a 10,000 square-foot spec building in Batt Industrial Park.
Peabody Main Street Association revived the concept of having a community Christmas celebration with an event called "Western Wonderland" on Dec. 2.
Sponsors of the 2006 Marion County Toy run distributed checks totaling a record $11,400 to representatives from community charities in Hillsboro, Marion, Peabody and Goessel. The money, plus a contribution of 49 bicycles, will be used to give worthy children in those communities a merrier Christmas.
Peabody-Burns officials announced their schools had reached the state's "Standard of Excellence" on state assessments in nine areas.
The Peabody-Burns school district will be redrawing boundary lines within the district to comply with a new state law that mandates near-equal populations within each representative district.
Two grants will enable The Hub, a hang-out center for youth in Peabody, to hire a full-time director starting Jan. 1 as well as add six computers and high-speed Internet service to its resources.
Darryl Thiesen was dismissed as director of Marion County Emergency Medical Services Dec. 18. No reason was given for the dismissal. Thiesen had been placed on six-month probation in September.