Marion assesses charge for burning project

New monetary charges for firefighters and fire equipment called to monitor approved burnings were approved by the City of Marion Monday as the result of a request brought before the city commission a week ago.

At that time, a group represented by Roger Hannaford and Kevin Fruechting asked for exemption from city outdoor-burning prohibitions in order to burn grass in open spaces in Country Club Heights.

Dennis Nichols, city administrator, said the group had agreed upon approval of the request to sign a waiver of liability absolving the city for responsibility for their actions. But a fire crew also was to be called to be on the scene in case the fire got out of hand.

Nichols said as a result, it was felt the city needed to have a standard monetary charge in case such a thing occurred again.

During discussion, Nichols and commissioners Larry Reiswig (presiding in Mayor Max Hayen’s absence) and Jim Crofoot noted they didn’t want to encourage any more people to seek permission for burning.

Reiswig moved for a charge of $75 an hour-the amount also charged for a burning fine-for equipment, plus $10 an hour for each firefighter, and Crofoot agreed.

Dan Baldwin, city attorney, asked for a 20-minute executive session to discuss movements in the lawsuit against the city that seeks to halt annexation of the Martin Marietta quarry and an area that would give access to it.

The annexations were part of steps that might have led to establishment of a regional landfill. No actions were announced.

Since the annexations are in litigation, and Margaret Harris, an adjacent land owner, came to last week’s meeting to question city maintenance of Timber Road north of U.S. Highway 56 leading to the quarry, Nichols said city work on the road has ceased.

He explained that Harris’s concerns about possible removal of an earth berm along the road that kept water-carried pollutants from flowing onto farmland had led to a request for the Marion County Road Department to evaluate the city work.

Nichols said a county representative concluded the city hadn’t damaged drainage protection. Nichols recommended that if the city ever resumes maintenance once the annexations case is resolved, a legal survey of the road be done.

He and Marty Fredrickson, street superintendent, thought the road looked properly aligned as it was.

Nichols asked Baldwin to write to the parties concerned telling them what has happened.

Susan Cooper, development director, said excavation began this week for the new Seacat hardware store at the Marion Light Industrial Park on the north side of U.S. 56. The store is planned to be a regional hardware and lumber outlet. Concrete work on the store should begin next week if the weather allows, she said.

Cooper and Nichols said they were talking to Prairie View this week about possible locations for the mental health center to build a new facility in Marion. Prairie View currently adjoins St. Luke Hospital on Roosevelt Street. Nichols said 13 different sites were considered.

Cooper asked the commission to approve a proclamation naming April “Fair Housing Month” in Marion in recognition of the progress and aspirations since the U.S. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The proclamation passed 2-0.

Don Jolley, recreation commissioner, reported results of a survey filled out by city officials and others which will be used as the basis of all recreation rules and planning.

The survey defined the top four recreation objectives, in order of preference, as providing safe and enjoyable recreation, developing a positive self-image, developing self-responsibility and developing leadership skills.

The remaining objectives, in order, were learning to compete and cooperate, learning sportsmanship, developing physical skills, developing a motive to achieve, opportunity for family involvement, learning sports skills, promoting physical fitness, encouraging lifetime participation, learning that losing is a natural consequence of competition, keeping kids off the streets, teaching the sports of our culture, winning games, providing a feeder for other programs, entertaining parents and family, and giving adults coaching opportunities.

Before next week’s commission meeting, at 4 p.m. Monday, a reception will be held for Hayen as outgoing mayor. The business meeting will begin about 4:30, or when the reception concludes.

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