ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
The Marion City Commission Monday approved lawn sprinkling systems for parks and the library. It also approved a bid for water and sewer-line replacement and gas line trenching.
City Administrator Dennis Nichols suggested a few weeks ago to commissioners that the city install a sprinkler system, plant grass, and work with the Chamber of Commerce to organize a farmers’ market on the vacant lot created by demolition of a building at 201/203 E. Main.
He expanded the idea to also ask for bids for installation of sprinkler systems in Central Park and at the depot/library.
Nichols said, including Central Park is made more feasible because it would free time a city employee spends dragging hoses from place to place to give the employee more time for activities such as mowing, thus replacing contract labor.
Nichols said the system should also help Central Park by improving the lawn and saving more trees in drought.
He received sprinkler installation bids of $1,950 for the vacant lot, $2,150 for the depot/library, and $10,000 for Central Park from Earl Peters in Marion. The commissioners approved the bids 3-0.
The commissioners voted 3-0 to accept a bid from Mies Construction for $150,450 for water-line replacement, $56,750 for sewer-line replacement and $2,125 for gas-line trenching. The comparative bids from Middle Creek Mining were $173,930, $103,960 and $2,975.
Middle Creek also did an alternate bid of $68,850 for doing the sewer-line replacement by pipe bursting rather than trenching, which Nichols said can be useful by doing less damage to streets and area.
Because $250,000 was available from a bond issue for water- and sewer-lines replacement, and the total bid for those was $207,200, Nichols and Marty Fredrickson, street superintendent, recommended using the remaining $42,800 to do up to three more blocks of sewer lines.
Most replacement will be in the North Hill area, Nichols said, with the gas-line trenching at Batt Industrial Park.
Jeff Cady reported that Sean Spoonts has been hired as director of the Marion Recreation Commission.
Cady said goals of the commission include making the baseball field complex more like a college stadium setting-including putting down more dirt and grading fields.
He said Spoonts would be looking to begin a basketball program to keep youngsters like the 52 who now go to Newton to play.
Police Chief David Mayfield said Dean Keyes, former county deputy, has been hired on the police force to succeed Bill Bradford, who resigned. He said Keyes is especially well trained in drug-law enforcement.
Ruth Lange presented $1,300, raised by soup suppers and matching funds, to Police Chief Thad Meierhoff as a donation from the Aid Association of Lutherans.
Lange, president of the AAL local chapter, said, “We appreciate all the services the fire department provides for the town and the county.”
Meierhoff said the money will be used to purchase protective clothing.
Linda Holub, city clerk, said Blue Cross and Blue Shield has increased city employee health insurance rates by 31.5 percent, 11 points for usage, 3.5 points for increasing age, and 17 points for pool size of less than 50 employees.
Holub said part of the rate increase could be saved by moving from the Blue Cross program called Blue Select to the Blue Choice program designed for pools under 50 persons for instance increasing from $164.90 to $210.06 for employee only under Blue Choice compared to $217.45 under Blue Select.
She explained that employees would pay more deductible and cost share under Blue Cross, but would also have more freedom in going to a specialist without referral.