All three commissioners voted to proceed with obtaining $40,000 in grant money, which must be matched with $10,000 from the county, to set up a revolving fund of 4 percent loan money for small businesses in rural areas.
Marion County Economic Development Secretary Teresa Huffman put together the grant to get the money from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.
Randy Snider from Rural Development told commissioners the loans will be for individuals or companies with less than $1 million sales and fewer than 50 employees.
He said the loan requests must range from $600 to $15,000. As businesses pay the money back, it will revolve through the fund to finance another business. Snider said the county will keep the funds permanently as long as the program is continued, but will return the same 80 percent share back to Rural Development if it is discontinued.
Snider said of the 31 Kansas counties he serves, seven have applied for the revolving fund grant. He said $300,000 to $400,000 is available for the state.
Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said he would like to see money of such economic benefit spread around rather than only a few counties get it.
Dan Hall, consultant with BG Consultants of Manhattan, told commissioners they could be looking at a $300,000-plus renovation to totally bring the county health department buildings in downtown Marion up to specifications.
His inspection showed the need for such reconstruction as adding support for floor joists that span too much long for the weight above them.
“It will be difficult to justify such an investment there,” Hall said.
Hall also received news back from the commissioners that after spending $23,375 of $50,000 allocated for planning a community corrections center with him, they will have Law Kingdom Inc. of Wichita on the agenda at 1 p.m. next Monday for an alternative plan.
The commissioners said they are looking for plans that give them the same resource at a lower and more acceptable price to county voters.
Sheriff Lee Becker told commissioners that the old jail may become increasingly difficult to maintain if requirements from the recent state fire marshal inspection come back too stringent.
Dallke said it is going “to be tough” for the county to finance the resurfacing of Sunflower Road into Third Street, ending in Main in Marion, as was the intended use of the route as a detour during U.S. Highway 77 reconstruction.
The commissioners voted to accept a $60,000 contract with Engineers Kirkham and Michael, with $15,000 toward planning and $45,000 to work on the two-inch, 10.5 miles-long overlay.
Under questioning from Commissioner Bob Hein, Herzet said money reimbursed to Marion County from the Kansas Department of Transportation stands at $432,000.
Hein asked what could be drawn from capital improvements fund on the project, and County Clerk Carol Maggard told him $277,882 in capital outlay is left.
Commissioner Dan Holub asked about reducing the overlay to 1.5 inches, but Herzet said the reduced overlay wouldn’t hold up long enough under traffic to justify any money saved.
Hein said the commissioners would be well advised to use every means to finish the project as soon as possible with prices of oil and other materials likely to continue increasing in price.
Dallke noted that the county will need to discuss the project with the City of Marion. He asked whether the city’s desire for an upgrade of Timber Road should be brought into that discussion for better price control on all projects.
The commissioners approved purchase of two computers at $1,358 each for the clerk’s office and of two computers at $1,408 each for the treasurer’s office.
Maggard said those two offices require faster equipment all of the time.
The clerk’s old computers will be used by the courthouse janitors and by the transfer station.
The commissioners turned down a request to treasure hunt on the courthouse lawn with a metal detector to avoid digging up grass.