County officials sworn in during Monday ceremony

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
Newly elected county commissioners Dan Holub and Randy Dallke were sworn in Monday along with five incumbent elected county officials by Judge Michael Powers before the regular meeting of the commission.

The other officials were County Clerk Carol Maggard, County Treasurer Jeannine Bateman, Register of Deeds Faye Makovec, County Attorney Susan Robson, and Sheriff Lee Becker.

Holub succeeded Howard Collett as commissioner for the Marion-based district as commissioner and Dallke succeeded Leroy Wetta for the Peabody-based district.

Reorganization itself at the beginning of the meeting, Bob Hein was chosen as chairman of the commission and Holub as vice-chairman.

Dallke said he wanted to thank the outgoing commissioners “for the fine job they have done.”

He listed the previous commission’s top accomplishments as financing and arranging the closure of the old landfill southwest of Marion, buying and streamlining operation of the transfer station, and adding to the budget as well as “elevating the issue” for county economic development.

Dallke reminded county residents that he and the other commissioners are only a phone call away for voicing their concerns. He said he looked forward to working with county employees to “grease the wheels” of county government for greater efficiency.

Dallke noted that the county commission has received an increasing number of complaints about poor roads. He said he wants the new commission to revamp what he said former commissioners saw as a failing five-year plan for upgrading and maintaining hard-surface roads.

Dallke called for commissioners to work on promoting Marion County both “inside and outside” the county.

Right now, he said, “I see no clear direction we’re heading.” He called for vision and planning for “what and where we’re going to.”

Other business

Joel Klaassen, publisher of the Hillsboro Free Press and the Hillsboro Free Press Extra, asked commissioners to designate the Extra as the official county. Notices would be reprinted in the Free Press without charge under his proposal.

Klaassen said such publication would give the county nearly total coverage of all households and businesses in the county while the current system of publication in the Marion County Record, with duplication in the Hillsboro Star-Journal and Peabody Gazzette, leaves out most of the western half of the county.

Klaassen said he could save the county money by running legals in smaller type because it uses less space. The price per amount of space used would remain much the same as it is now, he said.

Klaassen offered the county a 10 percent discount on legals e-mailed to the newspaper office because it would eliminate keyboarding.

Donna Bernhardt, managing director for the Record, said her publication has been efficient and reliable in publishing county legals.

She added, “You get what you pay for.”

Klaassen said designating the Extra would keep commissioners within the letter of the law while republishing in the Free Press would meet the spirit of the law by expanding the number of people who would have ready access to reading legals.

Klaassen said the Extra/Free Press combination already is used for legal publications by Hillsboro, Lehigh, Canton and Unified School District 410.

The commissioners tabled a decision on the matter for one week to give time for consideration.

The commissioners voted to leave county banking as it has been.

David Brazil, director of planning and zoning, environmental health and the transfer station, presented each commissioner with a new copy of the county comprehensive plan and zoning regulations.

Duplicate copies will be available for public use on the courthouse table in the hallway and at the county health office in downtown Marion.

Maggard notified Brazil of a new policy presented by the commissioners that information from all persons on the Monday agenda be submitted by noon Friday to give commissioners time to study it.

Dallke told all department heads during the meeting that the advance information is wanted to increase efficiency.

The commissioners met with Brazil in executive session for personnel for 20 minutes with no announcements after reconvening in public session.

The commissioners voted 3-0 to authorize an annual premium of $131,435 for total county insurance coverage from agents Richard Nickel and Casey Case after dropping $3,152 for specific perils.

Nickel said the top payout the county could receive in a disaster for its property would be $7,280,000. The premium represented a 10 percent increase in cost, which the agents said mostly was due to increased materials and labor costs in the event of property damage.

Hein told acting Road and Bridge Director Jim Herzet that his crew deserves thanks for the job it has done during last week’s ice storm. He said he had received complimentary calls from the public.

Dallke said he also had received thanks from electrical crews who received help from road and bridge in making it to repair spots. Dallke said he wanted to promote more such interaction between the county crew and other entities such as the smaller cities in the county.

Dale Snelling, park superintendent at Marion County Lake, received approval from commissioners to get bids for tree trimming at the lake in the wake of the ice storm. He said Chinese elms were the worst-hit trees for limb breakage, but that many trees also had branches weakened.

Snelling reported permit receipts at the lake totalled $103,007 for 2004, under the projected $105,000. He said he paid out $128,737 in expenses for the year, and that $30,000 in cash remained.

Hein commended Communications and Emergency Director Michele Abbott-Becker for her coordination work during ice storm electric outages last week.

Holub said he is concerned that not all senior centers, rest home facilities and assisted living facilities are equipped for generator hookups to keep power going for the elderly during electric outages.

Abbott-Becker said some such facilities have shut-off systems, to isolate generators from main lines to prevent back-shock to workers, and hook-ups for generators, but the equipment is scarce during wide area outages.

There has been reciprocal help between communities and aid from neighbors during the outages, she said.

Hein said Hillsboro fed and housed both rural residents and others who didn’t have electricity.

Abbott-Becker said the Coleman Co. of Wichita donated 25 sleeping bags and cots to the Burns Community Center to help during the outage.

She said Federal Emergency Management Aid will be providing financial aid to public entities. The rural electric companies in Marion County alone are estimating $750,000 in expenses, she said, without the figure being complete yet.

A generator for the emergency communications center kept things going for her department, Abbott-Becker said, but there will be computer damage as a result because of the lower quality electricity provided. The generator was only able to provide some auxiliary lighting for the sheriff’s office, she said.

Dallke proposed that Abbott-Becker get bids on what it would take to provide a generator for the courthouse that would enable it to be used as an emergency services command center on one floor and public shelter on two floors.

Holub said he could go along with the motion as long as it was only authorizing to get bids, and not to actually spend money. With that, the measure passed 3-0.

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