Marion will allow lawsuit to be litigated

Attempts to negotiate a settlement between the city of Marion and a group called “Groening and others,” suing to prevent annexation of the Martin Marietta Quarry, ended Monday with an announcement by the city commission that it would let the case go to litigation.

The commission announced through City Attorney Dan Baldwin that it is hiring Wichita Attorney Jeff Kennedy as co-counsel in the case, and that it will accept an offer from Waste Connections, the company that negotiated with the city for possible establishment of a regional landfill at the quarry, to subsidize legal fees.

Baldwin said accepting help from Waste Connections doesn’t mean the city is tied to the company in any way, and that the company has tried to act in good faith because it realizes the city wouldn’t be in the litigation if it hadn’t attempted to negotiate with company representatives.

Commissioner Larry Reiswig said, “We are not obligated to Waste Connections in any way.”

Commissioner Jim Crofoot said commissioners hadn’t been able to accept additions from the other side in negotiations.

Baldwin said the commission had decided to let a judge decide what the city had done right or wrong in the annexation, and make recommendations to correct any flaw in the annexation, rather than “make a compromise it wasn’t comfortable with.”

The commissioners also received a request from Emmanuel Baptist Church pastor Bill Sherfy and trustees chairman Darrell Weigart for the city to consider abandoning the alley running east-west from Walnut to the railroad to allow possible church construction of a carport and handicap access.

Utilities Superintendent Harvey Sanders and Street Superintendent Mary Fredrickson said abandoning the alley isn’t a good idea because truck access for repair of electrical, water and sewer lines there would be greatly inhibited.

Sanders added upgrading electric lines from 110 volts to 2,400 volts would also add to the danger if a power line were to fall on a carport built under it.

The commissioners decided to delay any decision until after viewing the alley following the meeting.

The commissioners approved a request from Stone City Cafe to have an American flag painted in high quality outdoor latex on the north end of the west wall of their building, a request made because of the money the city spent rennovating the wall following demolition of a condemned building next door.

Mayor Eloise Mueller read a letter from Ed Koch, German sponsor of the annual Berlin to Marion tour of German students, expressing sympathy and solidarity with Americans in light of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Development Director Susan Cooper requested, and the commissioners approved, a letter of endorsement from the city to establish a mico-loan program in Marion County through a $100,000 South-Central Kansas Economic Development grant.

Cooper said $10,000 of the grant would go to the administrator of the program with the remaining $90,000 used for low-interest loans up to $15,000 each for businesses employing low to moderate income people.

Upon request by Police Chief David Mayfield, the commission approved application for a grant that would cover $4,564.80 of the cost and the city covering $507.20 for purchase of court management software and a laptop computer.

The grant would come through the Federal Law Enforcement Block Grant Fund administered by the Kansas Attorney General.

Mayfield said the wireless system would allow court clerk reports to go directly in his department’s computer without duplication of effort by officers or also allow officers to enter reports from squad cars while maintaining public visibility.

City Administrator Dennis Nichols proposed that commissioners consider Stutzman Refuse Disposal to replace city refuse pick-up to save on city equipment replacement, trash truck personnel retention problems and possible future recycling programs.

Nichols said city crews have applied asphalt millings to the Central Park street and parking area which included handwork to ensure a snug fit against the new spring development.

Nichols said construction of the north turn lane from U.S. Highway 56 to the retail business park and the park’s new street will be completed as scheduled by Oct. 1.

He also reported that the company of Hogan’s Painting and Sandblasting began painting the interior and exterior of the city’s 70,000-gallon water tower Sept. 1 under a $42,271 contract paid from electric and water bond funds.

Robert Hartley, owner of the car and truck wash under construction at the business park, was at the meeting to continue discussing the purchase of lots for a semi-truck turnaround.

He was not heard from because he wasn’t on the meeting agenda even though he said he had called to be on the agenda.

City workers could find no record of his call, and said they regretted anybody being left out because of any failure to notify Nichols who is acting as city clerk for agenda scheduling.

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