Marion woman asks for compensation for tree removal

The Marion City Commission Monday approved a bid to purchase a fire truck for $176,000 from Hays Fire Equipment, but not before receiving a reprimand from a citizen not pleased with city removal of her fruit trees.

Alana Taylor said a fruit tree in front of her home at 1004 E. Lawrence St. was removed by city workers involved in a street project without prior notice or acknowledgement to her “as a landowner.”

She said she should at least have been notified to see if she would like to have the wood.

Taylor further charged that another highly productive apple tree on another part of her property had been “pulled out” by the city in April.

Asked by Mayor Martin Tice why she didn’t complain about the tree in April, Taylor said she had decided to let the incident go by at that time. But when the second tree was taken, it was too much.

Mayfield said he thought there was only one tree, the one last week.

Public Works Director Harvey Sanders said that although he acknowledged his mistake in not being polite in notifying Taylor in a phone call from her, he had no knowledge of the April tree.

Street Superintendent Marty Fredrickson said he also only had knowledge of the more recent tree.

Taylor said if her child had done such a thing, there would be consequences to pay, and she thought the city should pay, too.

When Tice asked what that consequence should be, she suggested a $200 donation either to the ministerial alliance or the library.

City Administrator David Mayfield said he would get together with Taylor on Tuesday to see where the trees were pulled out.

City Attorney Dan Baldwin said he had researched attorney general opinions that would affect Marion changing from a three-person, city-commission form of government to a mayor-and-council form of government as requested by citizens in recent meetings.

Baldwin said he found that the city can be “tremendously flexible” in going about choosing whatever form of government it would want, from deciding how many wards or precincts council members would come from to deciding whether the mayor would vote. Although four council members have been called for, Baldwin said the city could have more.

Baldwin said the law leaves it open for the commissioners to decide whether to change government form, or whether citizens call it to a vote by petition.

The commissioners, led by Tice, said they would continue to study the idea.

Former Mayor Eloise Mueller called upon them to vote to put the question on the April ballot.

“I hate to see you keep dragging your feet on it,” she said.

Susan Pollman, wholesale representative for Westar, explained company efforts to repair and replace equipment beginning with the July 25 power failure to Marion caused by voltage regulation equipment failure. She said repair and replacement efforts lasted until upgrades were finished Aug. 9.

Mayfield said the service interruption had some customers investigating compensation from city insurance for equipment damage from voltage declines. Pollman said Westar has investigators who will look at damage claims.

Crofoot asked if the investigators would respond with checks for actual damage.

Pollman said they would respond, but not always with checks. She said if damage results from normally expected malfunctions of equipment rather than from any company negligence, the company does not compensation for damage.

Mayfield told Pollman that Marion would like to be in the running to locate a 200-employee Westar coal-fired electrical generation plant here that is planned for the near future. Pollman said Marion should fill out required paperwork for Westar on the plant.

Commissioners extended repair time for 60 days on a structure at 201 N. Freeborn because the owner has shown progress, but ordered the demolition process to move forward on a structure at 1018 Denver, where little has been done.

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