County pledges $10,000 to match USDA funds

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
The Marion County Commission, on a motion from
Commissioner Bob Hein, pledged Monday to come up with $10,000 to match $40,000 in U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant funds to loan very small businesses.

Economic Development Development Secretary Teresa Huffman asked for the pledge to enable her to complete the grant application by the end of January.

Huffman said she sees the loans from the $50,000 in total funds as going to the very smallest of county businesses, those started by individuals with very little in resources who might be expected to benefit from a $500 to $1,500 loan.

“We don’t want to bankrupt them with a large loan,” she explained.

Randy Dallke, who assumed chairmanship of the Commission at the same meeting, asked Huffman if she forsaw herself as the person who would approve or disapprove loans.”

“Absolutely not,” Huffman replied, saying she is thinking of a committee of five from the County Economic Development Council to review loan requests under specific guidelines.

She answered another question from Dallke that she wouldn’t necessarily turn down somebody who wanted a $10,000 loan-“It would be up to the committee.”

The funds would be of a revolving-fund type-as those with the first loans paid them back, the money would be loaned again to other businesses.

Huffman acknowledged that the county already has a revolving loan fund of approximately $36,000 under the microloan program started through the Kansas Department of Commerce. She also answered commissoners that she was aware two businesses had defaulted under the microloan program, “but there’s always a potential for such things to happen.”

Under urging from County Clerk Carol Maggard, the commissioners discussed having an existing county official, perhaps County Treasurer Jeannine Bateman, keep track of the funding with the Council.

The commissioners asked Maggard’s help in determining which funds the $10,000 would come from, but other than that, they were committed to the program.

Dale Snelling, who has directed and done much of the work at Marion County Lake for 43 years as park and lake superintendent, told commissoners he will retire in late April. He said he actually began with the county 45 years ago in the road and bridge department.

In the matter of charging rent for mobile home space along with accompanying storage for the home residents, the commissioners voted 3-0 to charge $1,000 a year and $15 a month for boat storage.

A reception was held for Hein before the meeting honoring his being sworn in as commissioner after reelection in November.

The commissioners approved an agreement with the City of Lincolnville enabling the Marion County Sheriff’s Office to enforce city ordinances. The commissioners noted that any such agreements should always come through city governments to avoid the sheriff being “pestered” with public complaints.

Dallke noted that the county should decide soon on how to handle more than $450,000 in state funds pledged for reconstruction of Sunflower Road following its use as a detour route during Highway 77 rebuilding.

Road and Bridge Director Jim Herzet said the commissioners should expect to come up with another $600,000 before Sunflower can properly be done in a million-dollar effort.

Bobbi Strait, director of planning and zoning and environmental health, said another county auto salvage business that had violated county ordinance by leaving junk vehicles in county right-of-way has voluntarily cleared the roadway. The county had to remove vehicles in a similar situation in 2006.

The commissioners approved Strait buying four six-ply tires for $429 less $169 trade-in for her used four-ply tires from Mike’s Auto in Marion. Strait said she was getting flats on rough county roads.

The commissioners approved paying a total insurance program premium of $96,275, a $600 annual increase, for $8,868,000 in coverage from a coalition of local insurance providers.

Hein suggested more communication with consulting engineer Jack Chappelle before closing one of the new testing wells at the closed old landfill because of lack of water flow.

Commissioner Dan Holub said he didn’t like the idea because the well could become active again and of more value if weather patterns became wetter.

Larry Larsen, interim emergency medical services director, reported 76 ambulance runs for December, 16 from Peabody, three from Florence, three from Marion, 17 from Marion-BU, 32 from Hillsboro, and five from Tampa.

They included 16 transfers, 11 cardiac, 21 medical embergency, two standby, one motor vehicle accident, 11 falls, 10 no-transport, three 10-22, and one code black.

Burns had one first-response run, 7 from Goessel and one from Durham.

There was one rescue-truck run from Marion.

EMS reported 994 ambulance runs for 2006, 104 first responder runs and 17 rescue trucks.

Rollin Schmidt, transfer station director, reported 7,389.48 tons hauled through the station for the year.

County Appraiser Cindy Magill responded to commissioners’ requests with nearly six pages, 115 cases in all, of participants in master neighborhood revitalization who have received tax abatement schedules for building everything from homes to businesses to farm buildings.

Magill explained that the actions are listed according to property and appraisal classification so that sometimes a project was listed sometimes for the same property and individual more than once.

Holub said it would be interesting to see how much is added to the county’s valuation once all property included in the revitalization comes out of it.

The commissioners accepted bids for nine, 10, 11 and 12-foot traffic sign posts and the signs themselves from more than a half-dozen different companies in each category.

National Signs of Ottawa was awarded the bid for the posts for a total of $2,969.

Hall Signs of Bloominton, Ind. was awarded the bid for the signs at $3,867.24.

The commissioners approved paying KVK Inc. Building Systems of Woodbine $3,243.24 a year for heating and cooling maintenance, an increase of $294. 84 a year.

Publication of county legals was awarded to the Marion County Record.

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