County agrees to help Burns with revitalization program

Marion County Commissioners voted Monday to enter into an interlocal agreement with the City of Burns and Unified School District 398 to establish a neighborhood revitalization program.

Present to represent Burns was Mayor Brent Miles and Steve Waite, Community National Bank president.

Commission chair Leroy Wetta thanked Waite for his part in supporting Burns and the city’s future.

Waite said he felt it was part of a local bank’s responsibility to work within the city, and was pleased they could be there to work with Burns.

Commissioners continued their discussion with Scot Loyd of Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk & Loyd, in the 2002 budget finalization process.

One topic was the request from the sheriff’s office for an additional dispatcher.       

At the Aug. 1 meeting, Marion Communications Director Shelley Abbott-Becker had requested a consideration for shift differential for dispatchers working second and third shift and an additional dispatcher for high volume call times.

In later discussion, Loyd recommended a centralized monitor be established to keep better track of county machines and vehicles. This came following a discussion regarding the number of sheriff’s vehicles on the road, their trade-in value, and at what mileage they are considered ready for trade-in.

The centralized monitor would not, however, just track sheriff vehicles, but also cars, trucks, and equipment from all county departments.

Commissioners also discussed briefly the proposed 50-cent increase requested by Emergency Services Director JoAnn Knak for ambulance on-call volunteers.

Commissioner Bob Hein said volunteers were important, and there is currently a shortage.

Commissioners Howard Collett and Wetta agreed, but Wetta said, “We have to have the money to give.”

Commissioners asked Loyd to figure in a 25-cent raise as a compromise to the original request.

Ann Page of the Santa Fe Ranch, a non-educational charity/not-for-profit facility, came to the commission meeting to share information about the ranch that serves families and children.

Page has a doctorate in educational leadership and is a certified school administrator. She said she has had a life-long dream to develop such a facility for children and families in trouble.

Some activities available at the Ranch are fishing, camping, canoeing and horseback riding.

Page reported last year serving about 250 people, and this year has already had 100 come for help.

Page is communicating with the Scouting program in the hopes the ranch and Scouts can work together in the merit programs.

She said she hopes in the future to become an accredited school and offer prairie history to students in the form of a pioneer village.

“I am not here to ask for money, but would like you to know we are here and what we do, if you would like to help,” she said.

Aug. 1 payday meeting

Payday figure for July was considered a “more normal” figure by Carol Maggard, county clerk.

The total figure was $575,854. May sales tax was $32,539.91, which Maggard reported as being $17,916.33 above the same time last year.

Al Reiss of Reiss & Goodness Engineering and Dan Crumrine of the Marion County Lake Improvement District appeared before the board to discuss improvement grant proposals.

Chairman Leroy Wetta asked Reiss if the Hillsboro water tank would be ready to send water to Peabody by Aug. 6. Reiss said it would.

“The problem with the tank goes back to when the tank was first built long ago,” he said. He said he felt adequate repair work and testing had been done to assure successful water flow.

Reiss then said he had met with the Improvement District Board from the county lake around the first of July. At that meeting several problems were addressed, including the need for up-to-date survey work.

“There are no lots or blocks,” he said. “Surveying is necessary to determine what is private or public roads. It needs to be replatted.”

The estimated cost of the survey would be about $12,000, double the cost quoted several years ago when such a project was first considered. In addition to the actual survey, Reiss said the commission should be prepared for some legal work.

“Some of the stakes set earlier will not match the new ones,” Reiss said. “Some may be short a bit.”

Wetta voiced concern about the right-of-ways, and possible discrepancies and disagreements.

Reiss agreed, saying property value makes a difference on how people view such changes.

“Easements are now worth money, especially since property value has increased,” he said. “These things are just going to have to be worked out.”

Reiss then told the commission of funding options for the proposed project, which included a possible Community Improvement Block Grant, other rural improvement grants, or private funding.

Some of the grants available would require a public survey of incomes to determine percentages of low and median incomes.

“But these grants want to see a solution to a problem,” Reiss said.

Wetta then asked, if once platted, would the public streets become a responsibility of the county?

“I am not prepared to buy these roads as a county commission,” Wetta said.

Reiss told commissioners a step-by-step plan needed to be developed, and if it was the wishes of the planner to have surveyors plat, then stop, that could be done.

“Platting does not mean the county is responsible,” Reiss said.

Commissioner Bob Hein said he felt a survey was necessary as the first step of any plan.

Wetta said if Improvement District No. 2 were to become a city, “it would change the light of things.”

Reiss said he had worked with Improvement Districts in which residents wanted to become a city, such as Park City and Bel Aire.

“It is basically starting to act like a city,” Wetta said.

Crumrine, representing the Improvement Board, said the board knew they had to start somewhere, and were just trying to figure out where to get the money from.

In other commission business, Marion County Sheriff Lee Becker reported to commissioners the cost to set up load-limit enforcement.

Using McPherson County as an example, Becker said it would cost about $75,000 to set up a similar program with a deputy and mobile scales. The scales would cost about $12,000.

Becker suggested it may be less expensive to purchase the scales and use part-time law enforcement officers instead of hiring a full-time officer especially for this type of patrol.

Wetta asked Becker to check with McPherson County to see if it would be possible to contract with them to use their officer and scales.

Becker said it was also possible for an officer to examine weight tickets when a truck was stopped.

“We don’t always know they are correct,” Becker said, “but that is a start.”

Becker also addressed the cost of meals to taxpayers for prisoners. He said the average number of prisoners is 7.8, and each meal currently is $5.25.

After checking several sources, Becker found a facility which would offer meals meeting the necessary calorie count and nutritional requirements for $2.75 per meal.

Wetta questioned the quality of the meals with such a price difference.

The sheriff said his interest is in providing nutritious meals meeting nutritional requirements, and the $2.75 meal could meet those requirements.

Currently, no contract exists between the sheriff’s office and any facility for meal provisions.

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