Commissioner asks for advance information prior to meetings

In the opening minutes of the Marion County Commission payday meeting of Feb. 28, Chairman Leroy Wetta expressed his desire to receive more information about issues before they are brought before the commission.

Wetta said he would like to know more about items listed on the agenda than “just a written time slot.”

“My initial reaction is that if I’m not sure of something, I’ll say ‘no,'” he said.

County Clerk Carol Maggard said she would speak to her staff and would ask more questions of department heads about the issues they wish to present to the commission and to try to acquire documents ahead of time.

The payday total for the month of February was $608,674.88. Maggard said the amount was larger because it included a $114,500 payment for road-project materials.

Sales tax figures from December were $41,782.43. Maggard reported the amount from the same time last year was $46,140.00.

“Christmas was weaker economically all over the country this year,” said Commissioner Howard Collett.

Maggard presented the commission with a letter from Southwestern Bell about the pay phone in the county courthouse and one at the Marion County Lake office.

Ameritec, a subsidiary company of SWB which manages pay phones, reported the two phones do not “bring in enough quarters” due to increased use of credit cards, phone cards and cellular phones.To keep the phones active, the county would be billed $50 per phone.

Maggard said most people using the courthouse phone are salesmen, and people involved with the district court, many of whom, she thought, might not have access to credit cards.

Maggard said Dale Snelling, lake superintendent, told her children from the swimming area and campers use the phone by the lake office.

Snelling felt the could work the $600 fee per year into the budget to have continued use of the phone.

Commissioner Bob Hein, “Boy, if there is an emergency and we don’t have a phone available, that’s not a very good thing.”

Wetta wondered if other servers were available. Or perhaps the the county should purchase phones and place them in both areas.

“We could buy equipment for $1,200 and set this up ourselves,” he said.

It was then suggested a long-distance block be used unless the caller charged the call to the other party or used a credit or calling card.

Collett agreed both phones were needed, but did not like the idea of spending the additional money.

Maggard said she would look into the options and bring information to the commission for review.

Following a brief executive session, the commission announced it will increase the contract for the Planning and Zoning secretarial position to $10 per hour.

Mike Wederski and Loretta Klose presented reports from Juvenile Justice Authority.

Wederski reported the first audit since October 1996 was done by state officials on the adult corrections side.

He said the audit went well. Since legislative changes have lessened case loads from 35 to 40 down to 25 per case worker, things were going much better.

“I don’t see staff anymore because they are out doing what they are supposed to do instead of sitting there putting things into the computer.”

Loretta Klose, Attendant Care program director, reported having several housing options for the new juvenile program. The commission heard the options, then voted to accept one of them. Klose said she could have the program running soon.

Because the living quarters will be a safehouse for juveniles, the location will not be announced.

Mary Alice Jollie, a county lake resident, said several things at the lake needed attention. Jollie said a number of road signs were hard to read, the trash cans painted by Girl Scouts needed retouching, and several outhouses, docks and buildings needed work.

Dogs running loose continues to be a problem for residents and visitors to the county lake.

Jollie said a loose dog attacked another dog which was on a leash and walking with the owner. She said the attacked dog had injuries which required a visit to the veterinarian.

Jollie asked the commissioners to drive around the lake and take a look for themselves.

Lehigh Mayor Richard Hauschel asked for help with a road project for Lehigh’s Main Street.

“We just don’t have the money nor the manpower to do it by ourselves,” Hanschel said.

The city of Lehigh is working on a grant for road overlay, but is seeking immediate help to patch damage caused by large-truck traffic to and from the local cooperative.

Wetta said: “If we do this, every other little town will have a special project. Can we really come charging in on a white horse to meet every problem? What will this do to the whole system’s budget if we start doing this?”

Hanschel and Gerald Kelsey, county road and bridge supervisor, told the commission Lehigh had the materials for the repair and needed help with labor and equipment.

The commission decided, since the road is a connecting road and the county does not have to provide the materials, to offer assistance.

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