Written by Patty Decker Thursday, 17 May 2012 09:50
The Marion City Council was approached Monday by members of the PRIDE committee about a downtown beautification project.
Sally Hannaford, representing Marion PRIDE, asked the city to consider budgeting money to upgrade street poles, curbs and overall landscape of the downtown area.
“We are working with Darin Neufeld (local engineer, who has worked on other projects) for a possible grant for beautification of downtown Marion,” she said.
Hannaford said Neufeld has done several grants and the organization needs letters of support.
“We plan to go door-to-door downtown next week,” she said.
In addition to the letters of support, Hannaford said PRIDE will dedicate its next two meetings for people to ask questions about the beautification project and offer ideas.
The next meeting is noon Monday, May 21, at Marion Library, 101 Library St.
The group also plans to send its community surveys—taken when PRIDE?first organized more than a year ago—along with its grant application.
“The more we send in, the better chance we will have to get the grant,” she said.
Hannaford she approached the council because it is budget time and the PRIDE?group wanted members to be thinking about the project when making spending decisions.
“Usually a 30 percent match from the city or private donations are needed,” Hannaford said. “(The state) won’t even look at us unless we have 25 to 30 percent.”
Neufeld said he thinks the beautification project would cost about $750,000. That would require a $225,000 match.
Neufeld is drawing up plans to give the community a better idea of what the project would look like, she added.
Although several people have expressed interest in donating toward aspects of the beautification project, Hannaford said the overall plan it going to require grant money.
Asked by Mayor Mary Olson if the group has investigated other cities with similar projects, Hannaford said Neufeld has given them information regarding a project he worked on in Dighton.
The PRIDE?organization plans to visit several towns and see what types of ideas for beautification they have incorporated.
The council approved the transfer of about three-quarters of an acre of land owned by the city to Cooperative Grain & Supply.
City Administrator Doug Kjellin said he was approached by CG&S regarding a quit-claim deed on the property near the Marion elevator so a grain silo can be built.
In order to build the silo, Lyman Adams, general manager, said CG&S needs to own the ground.
“The city of Marion still owns the original rail bed upon which the co-op facility is located,” he said.
Kjellin said it appears some promises were given in previous years that this land was deeded to CG&S, but from what he discovered the transfer never occurred.
“In support of the vital role the co-op provides to Marion and the surrounding agricultural producers, it is my recommendation the land identified be quit-claimed to CG&S,” he said.
Brome grass removal
Council members approved a levee brome grass removal contract with Bryce Woelk of Dusty Acres Ranch. The contract includes the levee system with slopes, flat and drainage areas, the city’s business park, industrial park and drainage area east of Straub International.
According to the agreement, Woelk will pay the city $50 per year.
The grass, according to the ag contract, will be baled after the brome grass grows to seed or no later than July 30.
Police officer resigns
Following the council meeting, Kjellin said Sarah Alam resigned her position with the Marion Police Department. Her resignation followed the investigation of an off-duty incident, he said.
“Alam was determined to have committed no crimes, but the incident was a lapse of judgment which, when inevitably magnified by rumor, would have adversely affected Ms. Alam’s effectiveness in our town for some time,” he said. “The department and the community wish her well.”
In other business, the council:
-- recognized May 20-26 as EMS week and heard from director Steven Smith about the need for volunteers. The council acknowledged the local response crew for its dedication and long hours.
-- heard a report from Pam Bowers with the Marion Park Board. The council discussed improvements and repairs, along with the possible addition of new features.
-- approved job descriptions for the head librarian and utility supervisor. City Clerk Angela Lange talked about reviewing at least two job descriptions each month with the hope of having all descriptions completed before the end of 2012.
-- unanimously approved buying one button for each full-time city employee to attend Chingawassa Days. For the first time, full-time city police officers were added to the list.
In past years, the council didn’t include its police when giving free buttons because the officers were already working at the event. Even though that is still the case this year, the council decided officer could give the buttons to Marion EMS personnel as a way to say thanks.
-- received a check for more than $6,700 from Case and Son Insurance based on minimal claims in the previous year.
-- conducted two executive sessions. The first one was to discuss attorney/client litigation. The second one involved personnel matters regarding an employee who may have suffered a heart attack.