Gratitude for help regarding recent fire

Hillsboro Community Medical Center is extremely fortunate to have come through this recent fire with only minor structural damage and with no injury to residents or staff. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to our well-trained staff, who executed their fire-alarm procedures perfectly.

No less important were the efforts made by our Hillsboro Fire Department, the Marion Fire Department, the Hillsboro Police Department, the Hillsboro ambulance crew, the mayor and city administrator, the Marion County Emergency Management director, Parkside Homes and all of the volunteers who helped in so many ways in response to this emergency.

We are all so very fortunate to live in a community that cares. On behalf of our residents, patients and staff, thank you.

Michael J. Ryan

HCMC administrator & CEO

Lobby for lake funds through elected officals

In the Dec. 28 Free Press, an article about the Hillsboro City Council meeting mentioned that Mayor Delores Dalke had attended the National League of Cities meeting.

The mayor spoke of a session about obtaining line-item funding by a Washington, D.C., lobbying group called Russ Reid Co.

I suggest that anyone interested in knowing more about this type of activity read the article, “The Great American Pork Barrel” by Ken Silverstein in the July 2005 issue of Harper’s Magazine. On page 34 of the magazine is a quote by Mark McIntyre, an appropriations lobbyist at the Russ Reid Co.

I believe the practice of “folding in” line-item appropriations by legislators at the behest of paid lobbyists is a corrupting practice that results in the “the best government that money can buy.”

The project of cleaning up Marion Reservoir that Mayor Dalke referred to in her report is a very important issue for all of Marion County. A lot of work and planning has been done by the Marion County Soil Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, utilizing federal money to identify the causes of the blue-green algae and developing strategies to mitigate the problem.

Most, if not all, of the money for these efforts is U.S. Department of Agriculture funds that come through appropriations in the most current farm bill.

In the past 10 years more than $76 million has been spent in Marion County on USDA commodity, conservation and nutrition programs. Congress will be writing a new farm bill for 2007 and one can probably assume that the same, if not more, money will be available for Marion County in the next 10 years.

I suggest that we, the citizens and elected officials of Marion County, do some lobbying the old-fashioned way and ask the members of our congressional delegation to write a farm bill that will address our water-quality problems with adequate funding of USDA conservation programs.

We’ll have an excellent opportunity to start this effort within the next few weeks when Rep. Jerry Moran will be in Marion County on his annual listening tour. The date of this meeting can found on Moran’s Web site and will published in the local papers.

Harry E. Bennett


Ethanol plant idea has gaps to be addressed

I am responding to Dale Nuss’s letter in the Dec. 28 issue.

First, I would like Mr. Nuss to explain why identifying an economic development possibility (a destination casino/resort), having a presentation made and then putting the issue before Marion County voters to decide, since it was recognized as being sensitive, is a “fiasco” in his opinion.

At the same time, he could also explain his group’s opposition to the very idea of voters deciding the issue. He was adamantly against the commission deciding the issue-I agree on this issue-but felt it was permissible for his group to kill the issue by lobbying against having a vote in volving the entire county.

Now that the issue has been decided, we will get on with our lives. Based on his use of “fiasco” concerning the vote, I can’t help but wonder if the vote had turned out differently whether Mr. Nuss would have accepted the will of the voters or would have continued his opposition.

His ideas about an ethanol plant have a few gaps. I discussed this with him over dinner and pointed out a few problems he neglected to mention.

For a plant to be located here, the owners would need a guarantee of sorts that there would be enough grain to keep the plant functioning. A rough estimate, based on numbers supplied by Colwich, indicates if all of Marion County’s grain were used, additional sources would be needed to meet the need. So, identifying and getting some sort of guarantee would be required to even be considered for a plant.

Next, a multi-million-dollar plant will require a considerable number of investors-local or wherever they can be found.

Finally, Mr. Nuss’s idea of how market prices are set is a bit simplistic. The major advantage relative to market prices with an ethanol plant in Marion County is the cost savings due to reduced shipping charges.

Although the problems I identified are difficult, it does not make getting an ethanol plant impossible-just like locating a casino/ resort in Marion County in competition with Harvey County was not impossible, just difficult.

Maybe the Citizens for a Prosperous Marion County would care to tackle locating an ethanol plant in Marion County.

Speaking for myself, I’m sure the county commissioners would support their efforts.

Commissioner Daniel Holub


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