Chingawassa committee proposes new stage in Marion park

Chingawassa Days Committee members asked the Marion City Commission Monday for its blessing on possible construction of a 40-by-50-foot stage on the embankment north of the Central Park spring.

David Crofoot said the metal stage building with a roof on a concrete pad is estimated to cost up to $50,000, probably coming from Chingawassa funds that now go to pay $5,000 to $7,000 annually to lease a stage.

Concrete contractor and Chingawassa Committeeman Davey Hett estimated preliminary figures of $20,000 for concrete and $19,000 for the building.

Crofoot said the stage would include a loading ramp on the side and two dressing rooms in the back. He suggested it would also improve the four or five other performances that come to the park annually besides being available for the schools.

City Administrator Dennis Nichols pointed out that the portion of ground under consideration actually belongs to USD 408, and would require the district’s permission.

Crofoot said the group would also want the city’s blessing considering the proximity to the park and the city’s cooperation in Chingawassa Days.

Mayor Eloise Mueller said she would “hate to see” the stage go in if it interfered with the appearance of the new spring development. She asked if more use couldn’t be made of the smaller stage already built above Luta Creek between the main park and the post office.

Crofoot thought the stage would be far enough back on the embankment that it wouldn’t interfere with the appearance of the spring.

Hett promised to put stake flags around the outline of the stage, so commissioners could view it at next week’s meeting.

Crofoot said the area in front of the smaller stage above the creek was meant to hold only 200 to 300 people, and that the larger park area is required to seat the crowds Chingawassa attractions bring in.

Committeeman Matt Newhouse said, “When that other stage was built, nobody dreamed that Marion would have 2,000 people here to be entertained.”

Mueller and commissioners Jim Crofoot and Bud Pierce all said that in general they are ready to do most things requested for Chingawassa Days because the event has proved its drawing power and popularity.

Development Director Susan Cooper, who also chairs the Chingawassa Committee, said the city of Marion has contributed through the work of its city crew, but hasn’t had to contribute any funds because the event has been self-sustaining.

Besides Crofoot, Hett, Newhouse and Cooper, committee members are Donna Bernhardt, Jeff Cady, Chris Costello, Sharon Kelsey, Mike Powers, Bruce Skiles, Gene Winkler and Margo Yates.

The commission voted 3-0 to reject an offer from the city of Hillsboro to share in the use of outside legal counsel to look into solid-waste issues. Commissioners agreed with Nichols’ assessment that the counsel’s use would be related to the solid-waste agreement that the county has negotiated with KC Development.

Nichols said Marion’s position on cost isn’t going to change much under the agreement. He felt the city could save money on legal fees, and still feel comfortable relying for counsel on City Attorney Dan Baldwin.

Pearson said he didn’t like the part of the county’s contract that would have residents of subsidized apartments paying individually for trash disposal instead of together as a commercial unit when many of them find it difficult to live as they are now.

The commissioners asked Street Superintendent Marty Fredrickson about how much trash such residents at one unit dispose of now, and he said it amounted to four or five bags in each of four trash cans, much smaller than the average commercial account.

Fredrickson showed commissioners a videotape shot of the interior of sewer lines recently cleaned in the downtown area to remove grease accumulated in the years before restaurants were required to have grease traps that had reduced lines to 50 percent capacity.

The commissioners rejected a request from Kenneth Newell to assist him with the cost of taking the Emergency Medical Service class because the city has overspent its budget for EMS, much of it being drained away by high natural gas costs for EMS facility heating.

Nichols said the city has donated $500 for an EMS gurney, and pays for all insurance, utilities and the facility to house EMS equipment in Marion.

The commissioners said EMS staff is important to the city, and they directed a letter be sent to the county commission encouraging it to reimburse EMS training funds.

Nichols said preliminary plans with engineers have been reviewed for excavation at the new industrial park, and bids may be taken in December.

He said plans also will be completed for park water and sewer in the next 30 days or so, and bidding for them probably will be in late winter.

A road of either asphalt or gravel, depending on funds, will be the final bid item, he said.

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