Council completes funding for thermal-imaging camera

Shirley Groening (left) and Shawn Geis, representing the Marion Girl Scouts program, hand a check for $500 to Marion Fire Chief Mike Regnier. The money was raised through the sale of aluminum cans and was designated for the purchase of a thermal-imaging camera for the Marion Fire Department. Because of the generosity of local organizations and business, the Marion City Council decided Monday night to allocate the remaining money needed to purchase a higher quality camera for $11,600. The camera that was originally targeted for purchase was priced at $9,200. The community donated about $9,980 within a month, Regnier said. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press

“A tremendous response” from community organizations made it possible Monday for the Marion City Council to up the ante for getting the city fire department the top-of-the-line thermal-imaging camera.

City Administrator David Mayfield told the council the community had raised $9,980 for the camera-which was enough to get one. But he recommended the council provide the balance to get the best camera at $11,600.

He said the money was available from a reserve equipment fund where the city had saved $25,000 by buying a fire truck early.

Fire Chief Mike Regnier and others noted that the city’s help would mean further fund-raising efforts in the community would enable the fire department to acquire even more life- and property-saving equipment.

Regnier said the higher priced camera, which enables firefighters to see into a fire, would have a wider screen for better viewing, “more digital readouts, more bells and whistles.”

He noted that potentially thousands of dollars were saved recently when the Hillsboro Fire Department was able to “look into a fire” at a business building, and see that the blaze was confined to the roof. They were able to put the fire out without further damage of knocking down walls to ensure they got it all, he said.

Regnier said major clubs and businesses such as Cooperative Grain & Supply, the Kiwanis Club, the Girl Scouts, the Lutheran Church and others had made major donations.

With council members joining in to say “the community has spoken,” they voted for the extra financing 5-0.

The council voted 3-2, with Stacey Collett and Jerry Kline dissenting, to follow a suggestion by Mayor Martin Tice to solve a truck turnaround space issue for Superior Wine and Liquor and other businesses under the same ownership at the retail industrial park selling them Lot 4 and 20 feet of Lot 6 for $3,000.

Rodney Richmond, reporting for the Marion Recreation Commission, said Margo Yates has been able to put together a league of 31 teams for this year’s basketball program with the possibility of at least two more teams to be added.

Richmond said the teams, besides those from Marion, include those from nearby communities such as Hillsboro and Centre, but also Newton, Salina and Abilene.

Each team likely will play at least seven weekends in Marion, so they make an economic contribution to the community, he said.

The council approved the REC moving one cement slab and installing another along with moving an awning from the swimming pool, before its demolition, using REC money and city equipment and personnel.

Richmond said the council had asked him at an earlier meeting to explain an apparent surplus in REC funds. He noted that $17,000 is prepaid to the school district for wages for Yates to enable her to participate in the KPERS retirement system.

He said the REC also experiences $4,000 to $5,000 swings in income each year, so it must keep an excess of $6,000 on hand to ensure that expenses are covered.

On the subject of resuming their discussion on street repair, the council agreed to let Mayfield secure bids for spring to make a final decision.

Following Kline’s observation that “Eisenhower is a disgrace” for visitors to see, there was some consensus the effort might focus on that street.

Tice and Mayfield said any effort will be expensive, and that bids might be needed to issue bonds for next spring. Councilor Bill Holdeman said, “Something has to be done for the streets. We’ve neglected them too long.”

The council agreed to reappoint Leonard Klassen and Ralph Kreutziger to the housing authority.

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