Written by Hillsboro Free Press Tuesday, 27 December 2011 15:33
In a year full with celebrations and festivals, Marion County moved forward with plans to build a new jail—first by voters in the April 6 local election, then by the work of commissioners to get the project well under way by year’s end.
Marion County commissioners got some of their questions about tax-increment financing districts in Hillsboro and Peabody answered via a teleconference with state officials Bill Waters, TIF attorney for the Department of Property Valuation, Kansas State Department of Revenue, and an associate.
Bob Hein, 73, said he enjoyed his 14 years of service as a county commissioner, but “I‘m really going to enjoy my retirement.” Hein lost to Roger Fleming in the 2010 election; the transition became official Jan. 1.
The 19-year-old brother of a 15-year-old Goessel girl who died Jan. 6 of a gunshot wound was charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter. Jodi Campbell died Jan. 6 after she was wounded in the lower neck. Ethan Campbell was booked Jan. 9.
As the 2011 legislative session opened in Topeka, Rep. Bob Brookens said he was confident the House of Representatives would not repeal the 10-year tax abatement the state granted for the TransCanada Keystone pipeline in 2006. County officials have said the exemption has cost Marion County more than $3 per year in property-tax revenue.
The Marion City Council unanimously approved terminating Marty Grill as city clerk, at his request, and accepted the reinstatement of Angela Lange in that position. She had resigned seven months earlier.
By a 2-1 vote, the county commissioners voted to move forward with a compromise regarding the tax increment financing district in Hillsboro. The city would be allowed to correct an error in the plat and to recoup all but a small part of the increase in property taxes resulting from the area developed for a new auto dealership. Meanwhile, the city would be required to come to commissioners for permission to do additional improvements within the Hillsboro Business Park.
County commissioners reiterated their opposition to creating a joint district with Dickinson County for Kansas State Research and Extension. Commissioner Dan Holub and Randy Dallke said their biggest concern was creating another tax entity over which Marion County had no control.
A proposal to build the first wind farm in Marion County was approved by commissioners Jan. 18. The plan was proposed by Windborne Energy Inc., based in Florence.
A near-record 20 inches of snow fell on Marion County during the first full week of February. Even Tabor College canceled classes Feb. 8—a rare occurrence for the residential campus.
The Marion Chingawassa Days Committee announced that Diamond Rio would be the headline act at this year’s festival in June.
After more than a year of preparation, the Peabody City Council voted unanimously to lead the effort to redevelop six historic downtown buildings. The $2 million project, which will create 13 second-floor apartments, will be funded through historic and housing tax credits.
Prompted by oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, county commissioners asked representatives of the TransCanada Keystone pipeline to update them on the company’s emergency plans related to that project.
County commissioners agreed to seek public input on what direction to take in starting a county tourism program to replace the defunct economic development council.
Commissioners agreed Feb. 17 to put a half-cent sales tax funding proposal on the April 5 ballot to raise up to $3.51 million for the construction of a new jail.
Commissioners began closing land contracts Feb. 22 on the east side of Fourth Street in Marion across from the county courthouse campus. Commissioners said the land could be used for a new jail, if it is approved by voters, or for future courthouse expansion.
Recent census reports indicate Marion County has lost fewer residents than expected over the past 10 years, but not enough to qualify for Gov. Sam Brownback’s “rural opportunity zone” plan designed to help attract people to rural areas.
A Marion committee was busy planning events to mark the city’s 150th birthday this year. Dick Varenhorst was chair of the committee. Also serving were mayor Mary Olson, Donna Hanschu, Janet Marler, Cynthia Blount, Greg Carlson, Margo Yates and Susan Berg.
Even though technically it didn’t meet the requirements, Marion County was among 50 counties included in the governor’s “rural opportunity zone” plan, thanks to bills approved by the state House and Senate.
The newly formed Goessel Community Foundation signed an affiliation agreement with the Central Kansas Community Foundation.
Public meetings to explain the county’s proposal for a new jail generated mixed responses from participants. Meetings were planned for Florence, Hillsboro, Marion, Goessel. Lincolnville, Peabody and Tampa.
Goessel’s Anita Goertzen received the Kansas Rural Water Association’s “City Clerk of the Year” award March 30.
The jail proposal was credited with a higher-than-normal voter turnout for the April 5 local elections. The initiative for a half-cent sales tax to fund a $3.51 million bond to build a new jail passed with 64 percent affirmation.
In April 5 contested mayoral races, Peabody incumbent Larry Larson defeated challenger Frank Doerrler, 162-36, and Hillsboro incumbent Delores Dalke defeated Teresa Marie Wright, 535-37.
Marion County’s annual Walk Kansas fitness program drew 17 teams from around the county.
The Marion City Council approved changing its trash service from twice a week to once a week, and replacing all residential and commercial electric and water meters with state of the art technology.
Architects told county commissioners the new county jail should be completed by December 2012.
After more than 16 years as city attorney for Marion, Dan Baldwin was not reappointed for another year by the city council on a 3-2 vote. The council instead approved Keith Collett. Both men are local attorneys.
Carl C. Elder, 70, a retired pastor from Hutchinson, drowned April 29 after strong winds disabled the boat in which he and two other men were riding.
By a 6-3 vote, the Marion County Planning Commission, meeting at the county lake hall, denied the establishment of a recreational cabin-rental facility at the lake.
The Marion County Relay for Life raised around $30,000 at its weekend event at Marion Warrior Stadium. About 14 teams participated and about 1,700 luminaries were set up around the track.
After several days of searching, the body of Timothy Kliewer, a retired pastor from Hillsboro, was recovered from Marion Reservoir after his catamaran capsized May 12.
By a 2-0 vote, county commissioners overrode the Marion County Planning Commission’s decision to allow the construction of cabins for rentals by the Holub family at Marion County Lake.
Volunteers in Florence did much of the work to renovate the former school gymnasium into a skating rink in time for a May 20 opening. The project was initiated by the Florence Focus Group, Vision Impact Team and Florence Recreation.
About 870 students from Marion and Hillsboro elementary schools participated in the Marion-Florence FFA chapter’s annual FFA Ag Awareness Day May 12.
More than 75 people attended the dedication of the new Baxter Flight Center May 24 at the Marion airport. The building was built with a $75,000 gift from the Pearl Baxter Estate.
Between 1,800 and 1,900 people attended the 15th annual Chingawassa Days in Marion despite some weather interruptions.
County commissioners approved the leasing of Dumpsters to help the county’s smaller towns with recycling efforts. Ten communities could participate in the program, with fees going to the service provider, Waste Connections.
Former county commissioner Leroy Wetta of Peabody expressed his opposition to the construction of privately owned rental cabins at Marion County Lake.
More than 800 Bike Across Kansas participants pedaled through Hillsboro and Marion on the annual trek to cross the state from west to east.
Marion hosted its first “Art & Music Stroll” Sunday, June 12.
After 17 hours of deliberation, a district court jury in Marion found three Peabody residents guilty on two counts of rape, aggravated criminal sodomy and aggravated kidnapping involving a 14-year-old girl. Terry Bowen, 63, Lora J. Gay, 38, and Kenneth Frederick, 22, would be sentenced later.
Jim Herzet resigned as Marion County’s superintendent of roads and bridges after 15 years in that role.
A public meeting was called July 6 for residents of Lehigh, one of 13 Kansas towns in jeopardy of losing its U.S. Post Office.
According to the National Weather Service office in Wichita, Marion County and the surrounding area experienced 29 days of triple-digit temperatures in June and July—with July still a few days from ending.
Triple-digit temperatures were blamed for smaller crowds at the 81st Marion County Fair July 27-30 in Hillsboro. The attendance was estimated by fair manager Stephanie Richmond to be around 2,000 people. Even so, Wagoner’s Carnival said they were pleased with receipts during the first year at the fair.
Marion County Lake opened June 1 for water skiing, jet skiing and tubing, but the swimming beach remained closed because of toxic blue-green algae in shallow water. The beach had been closed for about a month.
Meanwhile, the blue-green algae advisory for Marion Reservoir was lifted for now. All activities were open to the public.
Local actors presented the melodrama “The Ratcatcher’s Daughter...or Death Valley Daze” Aug. 12 and 13 at the Marion Community Center as part of the city’s 150th birthday celebration.
Four members of the Marion Reservoir staff were recognized with a “Life Saving Award” from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their part in saving the lives of people involved in two boating accidents this summer. Honored were Traci Robb and Kyle Manwaring of the Corps, Marvin Peterson of the state’s Wildlife and Parks Department, and Jacob Riley, a summer agent.
Straight-line winds estimated to be as high as 94 mph tore down tree limbs and even uprooted whole trees during a June 17 midnight storm in Marion. The city was without electricity for about an hour and a half.
Beaches were closed at Marion Reservoir and Marion County Lake in mid-June because of toxic blue-green algae.
Army veteran Sergeant Ryan Newell, 26, of Marion, entered a guilty plea June 23 in Sedgwick County District Court to two misdemeanor counts of impersonating an officer. The plea stems from Newell’s arrest Nov. 30 for allegedly stalking members of the Westboro Baptist Church.
Loyd Builders of Ottawa was awarded the low bid of $3.055 million to construct the new county jail. The bid included a completion deadline of 365 days.
Marion’s Art in the Park drew 135 vendors to the annual show in Central Park Sept. 17.
More than 1,600 people attended the Sept. 17 debut of the Barn Chicks Trade Day at Wildcat Creek Ranch near Peabody. Owner Klee Watchous said he and wife Jennifer were pleased with the inaugural turnout.
A large crowd gathered in perfect weather to celebrate the 150th birthday of Marion at the 100th edition of the town’s Old Settlers Day Sept. 24. Included in the annual parade were class floats from every fifth year of graduates, from 1946 to 2006.
The chances of making arrests are low, but Marion County sheriff’s officers worked in partnership with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation in regard to the Sept. 24 discovery and destruction of a marijuana growing operation near Peabody valued at close to $2 million.
The sheriff’s office launched a registered sex-offenders’ website with the goal of protecting local children.
The senior center in Goessel appeared to be back on track after working through several staff transitions, according to board secretary Glendene Schmidt.
The Marion County Department on Aging recognized nine residents who contribute to the county workforce after age 65. The honorees were Avis Bergman, Mae Deane Blankley, Shirley Carlson, Sue Gutsch, May Hebrank, Bill Holdeman, Verla Regier, Beverly Seger and Joyce Weinbrenner.
County commissioners approved a conditional-use permit for Windborne Energy Inc. to seek locations in the county for wind turbines from potential electrical power customers.
The sheriff’s office investigated an attempted child abduction in Ramona Oct. 23. It involved a 12-year-old being asked to get into a car driven by a dark-complected man.
Seven of Marion’s notable historic figures came to life Oct. 22 during a cemetery tour planned as part of the city’s 150th anniversary.
County commissioners approved an estimated $1.8 million plan to hard-surface four miles of road from Tampa to Kansas Highway 15. The project should be done next summer.
Ramona residents gathered Oct. 20 to express their displeasure with the potential closing of their post office.
Participation was down slightly, but 69 motorcycle riders and 16 classic cars participated in the 18th Marion County Toy Run Nov. 5.
Marion’s Textile Trunk Show debuted the first weekend of November in the basement of the Marion Community Center. It featured vintage textiles and clothing.
John Moore of Gallup, N.M., completed his 630-mile walking pilgrimage to the St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church in Pilsen in time to participate in Veteran’s Day Mass. Moore carried a 25-pound hand-carved crucifix, which he donated to the church as a memorial to native son Father Emil Kapaun.
Marion County Toy Run sponsors distributed checks totaling $11,034 to charitable organizations from four communities Dec. 3. The organizations—Goessel Ministerial Alliance, Hillsboro Area Ministerial Alliance, Marion Community Churches and Peabody Association of Churches, will distribute the money to families facing economic challenges.
Terry Bowen, 64, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his role in the kidnapping and sexual assault of a 14-year-old Peabody girl. Lora Gay, 38, was sentenced to 25 years in prison, and Kenneth Frederick, 22, to more than 20 years.
Marion’s PRIDE, which was formed about six months ago, identified the direction the community wanted it to take and has developed a plan to pursue it.
The U.S. Postal Service and Congress announced Dec. 13 a moratorium on closing more post offices until May 15, 2012. The announcement gave hope to residents with targeted post offices in Lehigh, Durham, Lost Springs and Ramona.