Marion council offers land for corrections center if voters approve

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
The Marion City Council voted 5-0 Monday to provide 5 to 5.5 acres of land in the southeast corner of Batt Industrial Park for a Marion County community corrections center if approved in April by county voters.

The land would be given in exchange for such considerations as office space for the city police department there.

Councilman Stacey Collett said a request for such a vote to show support for a county plan before a public hearing Tuesday night was made to him by County Commissioner Dan Holub.

The councilmen all noted that their “yes” votes came with the understanding that all land involved would stay with the City of Marion if the corrections center isn’t approved.

The center potentially could house county prisoners, prisoners from other counties and branches of government which would pay Marion County to keep them, the county court facilities, sheriff’s office and county attorney’s office.

A “spec” metal building to attract other industry to the park along Highway 56 would be located in the opposite corner of the park. The councilmen approved the first payment for that building of $13,000 to Flaming Metal Systems by a vote of 4-1, Councilman Bill Holderman dissenting.

Holderman pointed out that the building’s construction hasn’t begun yet, and he thought it ought to wait anyway to be built to specifications for a business making a commitment to locate there. Collett said things such as final doorways could be left off to satisfy a business, and that in the meantime a building would be there for recruitment purposes.

The councilmen unanimously voted to rescind appointment of Jami Williams as economic development director to instead award her a contract as economic development director. In making the motion for the change, Collett noted that Williams would only be elgible for six weeks’ severance pay under a contract as opposed to a year’s pay as an appointee. He said that it would formalize her not needing health insurance through the city to a contract where she gets no city benefits, thus saving the city money.

Marty Fredrickson, street superintendent, and Harvey Sanders, public works director, brought in bids from Straub Equipment and Deere Trail Equipment for more than $30,000 from each on a new tractor that could power a 15-foot mower. The price would include trade-in of two Ford Jubilee tractors that Sanders said are in disrepair.

Fredrickson said the new tractor would replace an older John Deere in mowing dikes as required under contract with the Corps of Engineers, mowing at the industrial parks, and mowing larger open areas the city is responsible for in town.

Councilman Jerry Kline questioned the wisdom of including the Jubilees because he said that model is a high-demand antique.

Holderman suggested taking another look at possibly repairing the current tractor the average two times a year Sanders said it is taking. Collett said it seemed a high investment for only four months’ use a year.

Councilman Gene Winkler said it seemed the city could make do with a used tractor instead, and the other councilmen joined him in directing Fredrickson and Sanders to look for a used tractor.

Businessman Darvin Markley, speaking from among observers, said, “For $10,000 you can get you a pretty good used tractor that can run a long time.”

Sanders said it seemed to him that a new tractor would have been a better investment.

Toward the end of the meeting in public forum time, Markley again spoke up saying the Ford Jubilees are such collectors’ items that the city might get around $35,000 each for them.

Mayor Martin Tice asked if anyone else had anything for forum, and Markley spoke up again saying, “Yes, I do.”

Markley asked for another explanation of William’s change to a contract basis. Collett reiterated the new agreement.

Markley asked if she got six weeks severance if she were fired. Williams herself replied, “Not if I get fired for just cause.”

Tice again asked if anyone else had comments.

Markley asked why Marion streets hadn’t been cleared of snow and ice early in the day Sunday. Frerickson replied that the city crew had been ready to clean streets at 6 p.m.

Holderman said he agreed that street snow removal should have been done by 4 p.m. to have Marion streets ready for visitors Sunday. Holderman said the city should have contingency funds for snow removal at all times.

The councilmen asked Fredrickson to prepare an inventory of other city equipment not being used that could be sold by sealed bids or auction.

Sanders said construction of a new water line along Santa Fe is complete, and ready for customers to hook into it.

Holderman told Sanders he is receiving complaints from older citizens about lack of street lighting along the rear parking area of St. Luke Hospital.

Sanders said the underground wiring to low level lights is that way so that lights don’t interfere with emergency helicopter landings. He said it would be the reponsibility of the hospital to develop any more lighting.

The councilmen approved payment to Walters Morgan Construction Company for $187,488.82 for construction at the water plant.

Tim Oglesby of Blue Cross/Blue Shield described various deductible and co-pay plans for city employees under a 10 percent health insurance increase that he said would carry more benefit for employees. He said the city could save money by going with a $1,500 deductible while allowing employees to buy up to a $500 deductible thus transferring more cost from employer to workers.

The councilmen opted to study the plan for one more week before making a decision.

Phyllis Kreutziger and Dale Johnson were reappointed for three-year terms, and Royal Smith for a two-year term on the cemetary board.

Williams said a non-profit organization such as one of the community’s churches is needed to step forward to use grant money for funding of pre-school space. She said there is high demand from among district teachers for placement of their own children.

Clerk Angela Lange said the city received $195 from a trucking company for clean-up of a spill on Main Street.

The councilmen approved paying $336,248.88 in warrants which included the Walters Morgan and Flaming payments plus electric bill to Westar for $71,151.44. They approved a payroll of $24,384.08.

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