‘Trash talking’ sparks county conflicts in 2001 – Year in Review: County

Conflict about solid-waste issues wasn’t the only thing happening in Marion County during 2001, but at times it seemed like it.

The year did bring a number of conflicts into focus, but it also brought opportunities and challenges on a lot of other fronts, too.

Following are some of the highlights of the year by chronology.


— Marion County commissioners, by a 2-1 margin, voted to make a coalition of three county paid-subscription newspapers their official outlet for legal publications at a greater cost to county taxpayers. Joel Klaassen, publisher of the Hillsboro Free Press, had proposed to publish the legals in smaller type in the paid-circulation Free Press Digest, with a limited circulation, and then republish them for no charge in the Free Press, which is mailed to every home with a Marion County address at no charge. The counter proposal was made by Bill Meyer of Hoch Publishing, which owned two of the three paid-circulation papers, in agreement with the owners of the Peabody Gazette-Bulletin.

— Dennis Nichols, Marion city administrator, reported to the city commission that the city’s Greeley Gas Co. natural gas bill for the month had risen 160 percent from a year ago because of higher rates and cold temperatures.

— The team appointed by the Marion City Commission to negotiate terms with Waste Connections, Inc., voted unanimously to recommend rejection of Waste Connection’s final proposal for establishing a landfill at the Martin Marietta Quarry. The commission took no action.

— Joyful Noise Child Care Center opened its doors in Goessel. The project was initiated by area churches and parents to help meet a need for daycare services.

— Representative from Hillsboro Community Medical Center and St. Luke Hospital in Marion said plans for collaboration between the two hospitals are “going nowhere right now.”

— Two adults and two juveniles were arrested in connection with the theft of mail from the Marion Post Office in mid-January. The four were also suspected in a series of burglaries around the city.

— The Kansas Department of Health and Environment approved a revolving fund loan to build a new water tower for Goessel.

— The Ramona Store and Cafe opened its doors to the public Jan. 23.


— The Marion City Commission rescinded a vote taken the previous week to hold a non-binding public election on whether to host a regional landfill. Waste Connections sent a letter to the commission stating that it was going to explore an alternative site in Harper County.

— Marion County commissioners were told Feb. 6 that the waterline from Hillsboro to Peabody was incorrectly laid. The builder denied the charge.

— Big Brothers Big Sisters of Marion began receiving installment payments on a $50,000 grant from the United Health Ministries Fund.

— Ten people were feted at the annual meeting of the Marion County Conservation District with the following awards: Goodyear, Marvin Larsen, Peabody; Continuation Conservation, Rufus Lohrenz, Hillsboro; Bankers, Dwight J. Flaming, Goessel, Rod Peters, Hillsboro, and Monty Stuchlik, Lost Springs; Teacher of the Year, Bill Darrow, Marion Elementary; Young Conservation Farmer, Glen Ensz, Hillsboro; Grassland, Fred Berns, Peabody; Wildlife, Ray Penner, Valley Center; Windbreak, Elmer D. Voth, Newton.


— County and state law-enforcement officers and animal-health specialists joined forces March 12 to rescue more than 230 mistreated animals at a farm home west of Marion. About 144 Australian Shepherd dogs, 80 horses and 10 head of cattle were removed. Kena Lindgren, Karole Lindgren, Ryan Lindgren and Ray Lindgren were charged with cruelty to animals; Rockford Lindgren was charged with obstruction of legal process.

— Marion County was one of only 48 counties in Kansas to show a population increase since 1990, according Census 2000. The latest count put the county’s population at 13,361, a 3.7 percent gain from the 12,888 people counted in the previous decennial census.

— Goessel Superintendent Chet Roberts told the school board that the district’s charter school application has been approved but the state, but the amount of funding had not been specified.

— The Goessel City Council approved an ordinance between the city and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment stipulating the terms of a revolving fund loan of up to $325,000 for a new water tower.


— Marion County commissioners were told that the county’s bill for caring for livestock removed from the Lindgren farm west of Marion is rising at a rate of $200 a day.

— The county commissioners voted not to renew the contract of County Appraiser Clint Anderson for next year.

— More than 500 people attended the annual Marion County Health Fair at Marion Elementary School.

— Eloise Mueller won a closely watched race for mayor in Marion, defeating Martin Tice, 391-288. Other mayoral winners were: Brent Miles, Burns; Glennon Crowther, Durham; Jeanie Mierowsky, Florence; Peggy Jay, Goessel; Richard Hauschel, Lehigh; Victor Burns, Lincolnville; Greg Wyatt, Lost Springs; Kevin Ensminger, Peabody; Connie Smith, Ramona; James Clemmer, Tampa.

— Florence held its second annual Spring Fling April 22.

— Deputy Jeff Soyez introduced county commissioners to the new drug-detecting dog employed in the sheriff’s department in mid-April. “Jag” is a 14-month-old Belgian Malinois.


— A $3 million budget cut by the Division of Budget has forced the state’s judicial brand, including the Eighth Judicial Court in Marion, to continue a hiring freeze.

— Steve Tonn completed his 18-year tenure as agricultural extension agent for Marion County. He accepted a position with the Nebraska Extension Service in Omaha.

— Six barns were included in the first Barn Tour sponsored by the Mennonite Heritage Museum of Goessel.


— Nearly 1,500 people were in Pilsen for the unveiling of a statue erected to honor the work of Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun during World War II and the Korean War. The statue is located on the grounds of St. John Nepomucene Church.

— This year’s Chingawassa Days in Marion was deemed a financial success by its organizers. The Three Dog Night drew an audience of an estimated 1,600 people.

— The Marion City Commission authorized the sale of $1.274 million in general obligation sales tax bonds to be repaid at 0.75 percent for roads, drainage, water and sewer at the city’s two industrial parks.

— The Marion City Commission approved the creation of a new city recreation commission administered in partnership with USD 408.

— For most farmers, an early start and better-than-expected yields characterized this year’s wheat harvest. Yields ranged between 40 and 60 bushels per acre with reports common of 60-pound test weights.

— Sherry Soyez was appointed director of Marion County Big Brothers Big Sisters.


— Fifteen Goessel High School youth performed the musical “Godspell” at Nashville 2001, the national convention of the Mennonite Church USA, July 3-5.

— Millions of tourism dollars would be added to the Marion County economy by a planned expansion and modernization of Cottonwood Point at Marion Reservoir, lake officials said. The facility is keeping up with only 40 percent of the demand for its use. The project was estimated to cost around $4 million.

— The Marion City Commission gave a citizens’ group permission to install a skateboard course for a 60-day trial period on the basketball court at East Park in Marion.

— County commissioners signed an option agreement for first rights to purchase the transfer station from K.C. Development, along with an addendum verifying confidentiality regarding any business information revealed in the process.

— Greeley Gas Co. and Kansas Gas Service, the two natural gas companies serving Marion County, responded to an order from the Kansas Corporation Commission by announcing credit programs that could help limited-income families pay their natural gas bills.


— County commissioners heard that the cost of caring for the horses taken from the Lindgren farm stood at $42,564.33 through July. “We are at the point where the cost of care has exceeded the value of the animals,” Sheriff Lee Becker said.

— County commissioners voted to enter into an interlocal agreement with the City of Burns and USD 398 to establish a Neighborhood Revitalization Plan in Burns. The program provides tax incentives for building improvements.

— Marion city commissioners accepted a bid of $181,121 from Hett Construction to build the turning lane along U.S. Highway 56 at the Marion industrial parks.

— Rickey Roberts, an Oklahoma native, began work as the new agricultural extension agent for Marion County.


— The project to raze the school building at Lehigh was completed. The city contributed $7,384 to a grant of $66,454 from the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing to pay for the project. The buildings had become a health hazard in recent years. The city plans to develop a park on the grounds.

— Organizers of the county’s first Labor Day weekend fireworks display at Marion County Lake called the event “an awesome success.” Dale Snelling, lake manager, estimated some 2,000 vehicles filled the parking areas at the lake and figured at least two people were in each car. The event was sponsored by the Marion County Economic Development Council and county commissioners.

— The county commission accepted its role as the final payment agency for trash transfer station costs for all solid waste collected in the county to meet the Oct. 1 expiration of city contract extensions with KC Development.

— Marion City Commissioner Larry Reiswig resigned because he and his family were moving to Salina.

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

— The elementary school in Burns was condemned by the state fire marshal Sept. 13. Classes resumed Sept. 17 in the local Methodist church and kindergarten classes were moved to the lunchroom building in Burns. The USD 398 Board of Education voted Sept. 27 to relocate grades one through four to Peabody Elementary School.

— Banner Health Systems announced Sept. 18 that it planned to divest itself of St. Luke Hospital in Marion, as well as many other health-care facilities. Banner and its predecessor, Lutheran Health Systems, have leased St. Luke Hospital from the local district for many years.

— The 90th annual Old Settlers’ Day parade in Marion Sept. 29 commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 1951 flooded that devastated the community.


— The Peabody Historical Society recreated the State Fair of 1885, which the community had hosted. The Oct. 13 event recreated several events, exhibits and demonstrations from the old fair.

— Bud Pierce was appointed to the Marion City Commission to fill the void created by the resignation of Larry Reiswig.

— The Pilsen State Bank in Lincolnville was robbed at gunpoint by two suspects who entered the bank at 12:10 p.m., Oct. 12. The suspects escaped with an undisclosed amount of money.

— About 50 Marion residents gathered outside the Stone City Cafe Oct. 15 to formally dedicate the flag mural Barbara Chavez of Hillsboro painted on the outside west wall of the building. The huge mural, which features the words, “In God We Trust,” was commissioned by Stone City co-owners Debbie Cook and Donna Boone. Chavez later painted an even larger flag mural on the outside wall of a building owned by Rick Turner in Florence.


— The Marion City Commission voted 2-1 to reopen negotiations with Waste Connections to locate a regional landfill at the Martin Marietta Quarry.

— The 2001 Marion County Toy Run drew a record number of participants Nov. 3. More than 100 motorcycles and 17 classic cars participated in the ride from Marion to Hillsboro, with riders each contributing a new toy for area children. A barbecue afterward raised $5,300 toward the cause.

— Karole Lindgren was found guilt of two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals by a six-member jury in district court in Marion. Because of potentially conflicting defenses, she was tried separately from the other three family members charged in the case.

— Kansas Attorney General Carla Stovall returned to her hometown of Marion Nov. 12 to formally announce her intentions to run for governor. About 125 people attended the reception at the city’s senior center.

— A district court judge ruled that Marion County will be held responsible for cleaning up and closing the old landfill site southwest of Marion. The cost of closure is estimated to be in excess of $650,000.

— Raquel Thiesen was sworn in as a new Goessel City Council member to fill the unexpired term of Lyle Christ.

— Marion residents gathered Nov. 19 for ground-breaking ceremony for the construction project that will transform the city’s old Santa Fe Railroad Depot into a new city library and railroad buffs’ tourist attraction. The cost of the project is estimated at $758,192. A federal grant through KDOT will provide $606,553 and the city is required to raise the rest.

— Marion County Landfill, Inc., and MSW, Inc., past and present owners of the old county landfill near Aulne, filed a civil suit in district court seeking $35.375 million in damages against the county commission and three past and present members of that board. The suit alleges the board committed a breach of contract by failing to act on permit applications to legally operate a Subtitle D landfill there.

— Representatives of the cities in Marion County met with the county commissioners Nov. 20 to discuss their differences concerning how solid-waste collection should be administered in the county. The cities offered a counter-proposal to the one approved by the commission that would create an interlocal agency to administer the process.


— Negotiations for a solid-waste disposal interlocal agreement appeared to hit a dead end at the county commissioner’s first meeting in December. Representatives from KC Development were on hand to discuss the proposal promoted by the cities late last month.

— Marion city commissioners approved a $262,000 bond issue for sewer improvements.

— The cities of Peabody and Florence had holiday home tours the second weekend of December.

— Prolonged dry weather prompted the county commission to initiate a burn ban Dec. 10. At year’s end, no significant moisture had been recorded and the ban was still in effect.

— Goessel students earned the Standard of Excellence in seven out of 12 areas testes last spring during state assessment tests. Superintendent Chet Roberts said the achievement placed the district among the “top 7 to 8 percent” in the state.

— Karole Lindgren will serve five days in Marion County Jail, pay restitution, and not be allowed to own or care for animals for five years as part of the sentence she received Dec. 4 following her conviction on two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

— A new anti-landfill citizens’ group called SLAM-“Stop Landfills Around Marion”-distributed more than 100 yard signs as part of its campaign and has ordered 100 more.

— A citizens’ group in Burns, called S.O.S.- “Save Our School” -is planning an awareness campaign to keep an elementary school in their community. The group claims the move is more economical for the Peabody-Burns district and maintains that a “gentleman’s agreement” established some 35 years ago promised to keep an elementary school operating in Burns.

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