Education Cooperative moves to Marion

Marion County Special Education Cooperative in Florence, which serves handicapped children in the county?s five school districts, could soon have a new home following action Monday by the Marion City Council.

The council tentatively approved selling the former Golden Living Center-Marion at 1500 E. Lawrence to the cooperative for $100,000 pending appropriate changes to the memorandum of understanding and other relevant documents.

?I don?t think we want to put this off any longer (the sale of the center) than we have to,? said councilor Stacey Collett.

Initially, the city was asking $110,000 for the former nursing home, which it bought from Golden Living officials for $100,000, following council approval at the Nov. 17 meeting.

The facility was originally bought by the city in hopes of attracting businesses to the area, and Doug Kjellin, economic development director, said the cooperative is a viable business and would fill an empty building.

Part of the agreement, should the cooperative accept the council?s offer, would be a $20,000 down payment and a six-month lease/purchase arrangement to pay the remaining $80,000 (and about $1,600 in interest) by July.

Councilor Gene Winkler asked David Mayfield, city administrator, if July would be too long to wait for the $80,000 balance.

Mayfield said he would take a close look at the capital improvement budget.

Collett also voiced concern about the utility costs since the city took ownership.

Angela Lange, city clerk, said the center had not generated its first bill yet, but Mayfield said he didn?t believe the cost would exceed $5,000.

Mayor Mary Olson said the city did inherit a generator after buying the facility.

?I am thrilled we are not looking at an empty building,? Kjellin said.

Although the number of jobs won?t increase, the cooperative employs about the same amount as Golden Living Center did.

Kjellin said he he thought Golden Living had 28 full-time and 20 part-time employees.

With council?s approval to sell the building and proper transfer of ownership, the cooperative could take possession of the building before the end of January 2009.