Marion commissioners hear plea for more umpires for city rec program

A critical lack of baseball umpires and planning of Batt Industrial Park were among items considered by the Marion City Commission Tuesday in a meeting postponed because of Memorial Day.

Don Jolley, Marion recreation director, said only two of 12 umpires from last year have returned to officiate for a slate of 53 scheduled games. Recruiting and training umpires is a slow process, he said, and patrons are going to see inexperienced umpires trying to do a good job at games.

Umpires can make $17 an hour, but still, Jolley said: “It’s a thankless job. They can take a lot of abuse. So this isn’t really a report. It’s a plea to the public to treat them with understanding because we’re desperately low on people who will even try to officiate.

“You’re going to see rookie people as young as 13 to 16, and I don’t want to see them discouraged or run off because we’ll be in worse trouble. You’re going to see officials not fully uniformed or equipped. There will be games with only one umpire instead of two.

“In the last 20 to 30 days we’ve scoured the area for 60 to 70 miles from here to try to find officials.”

Commissioner Jim Crofoot said, “So I guess what you’re saying is that anyone with a desire to umpire should come see you.”

Crofoot and Mayor Eloise Mueller were at the meeting. Commissioner Larry Reiswig was absent.

Susan Cooper, development director, presented a final plat of Batt Industrial Park received from PEC, consulting engineers, and approved by the Marion Planning Commission. She said there had been concern over accessibility to lots facing Roosevelt Street, but “alleys are not feasible for industrial parks because of the uncertainty of how the lots will be developed. Accessibility would be from a park interior road.”

Cooper also has sent a letter to all Marion retailers reminding them that as of July 1 they will need to begin collecting the additional 0.75 percent sales tax approved by voters for industrial development. The increase brings Marion’s total sales tax to 6.65 percent.

The letter is signed by all three commissioners.

Cooper said the Planning Commission also has approved a conditional-use permit for Michael Loomis at 413 S. Fourth to store and package firewood on property zoned low-density residential. The wood would be cut elsewhere.

She said Loomis told the commission the wood is stored in the summer months, and sold wholesale beginning in October with one distributor coming in once a week with a tractor/trailer to remove wood under exclusive contract within a 300-mile radius of Marion.

She said Loomis had planned to fence the area with cable, but would be willing to install a privacy fence if needed.

Other variances granted were for construction in yard setback areas for Dale and Betty Ehlers at 211 E. Maple for a new garage and breezeway and for Brice Goebel for a new residence to replace a burned one at 706 E. Lawrence.

Dennis Nichols, city administrator, said it appears that Flaming Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, the contractor to install air conditioning in the City Auditorium, is ahead of schedule with brickwork of windows to have begun the week of May 28. He said duct work, insulation and roof supports have been installed with an 8,000-pound compressor located on the library roof.

Nichols said Angela Lange, an employee of the Marion County Health Department, will succeed Sherry Soyez as senior accountant for the city June 18.

He said Darrell Drake, a recent graduate of Sterling College with a bachelor of science degree in biology, will begin in about 30 days as Marion’s water plant foreman.

Drake has worked for seven years in water treatment in Hays and other places and has Class III water systems operator and a Class I wastewater systems operator qualifications.

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