Marion Council approves new phone options

The Marion city office will piggyback onto a new telephone system recently installed by the Marion County Emergency Management office.

?It?s a fantastic program,? City Administrator David Mayfield told the city council at its meeting Monday.

One way the system works, Mayfield said, is that if a tornado is on the ground, the city would have access from a remote computer to telephone everyone in the city about the emergency.

All businesses, home telephones and cell phones would be contacted within two minutes of the impending disaster.

Mayfield and Harvey Sanders, public works director, visited last week with Michele Abbott-Becker, Emergency Management coordinator, who explained the system to them, to Steven Smith, Emergency Medical Services director, and to others.

?If someone is delinquent on their city bill,? Smith said, ?the system could also send a notice directly to them.?

One councilor said Winfield is using such a system with about 80 percent results on getting bills paid.

For now, Mayfield said he signed up the city staff to test the equipment.

Another way the system could be utilized is with specific groups.

?Should the fire department want to meet, the telephone system could summon that group,? he said.

Or if the soccer team cancels a game, the system could also target that group.

If the pilot program is successful with limited use, Mayfield could recommend the council approve placing all of its citizens onto the system for a cost of about $1.50 per year, which would be paid for by the city.

Figuring a total of about 1,000 business, residential and cell phones, the cost would be about $1,500 to the city.

On another topic, Marty Fredrickson, streets and zoning director, and Mayfield visited with personnel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about a plan of attack regarding zebra mussels at Marion Reservoir and how to handle them from blocking water intakes at Hillsboro and Marion water-treatment plants. Zebra mussels are usually about the size of a fingernail, but can grow to a length of nearly 2 inches.

Even though the two cities have at least five years before the mussels grow to a critical level, Mayfield said, a response plan needs to be discussed.

?The Corps says we have to put a plan together, because they will not let us do whatever we want,? Mayfield said.

El Dorado has had water intake problems caused by these mussels at El Dorado Lake, and this is going to be an ongoing issue, he said.

Councilor Bill Holdeman asked if there a way boats could be inspected before allowing them in the Marion Reservoir, since boats are one way the mussels are introduced to water.

?The problem is already there,? Mayfield said.

Marion County Lake is doing inspections, according to Josh Whitwell, chief of police.

Mayfield said he and Hillsboro city administrator Larry Paine will be looking atoptions.

?We may need to hire some engineers and see what we can do that will also be approved by the Corps,? he said. ?This could be cost prohibitive.?

In other business, the council:

— discussed alleys and drainage issues in the aftermath of recent rain and snowfall. Mayor Mary Olson asked if Fredrick?son could look into some areas where the water is not draining properly. Some locations mentioned included 100 block of North Lincoln and 100 block of North Freeborn.

— heard that street and ditch work is continuing with the city approving additional engineering services with Kirkham Michael for $25,000 for Kellison Street to Sherman Street on Cedar Street. This would include ditch work, curb and guttering and asphalt from Kellison and Hudson to Sherman.

— tabled a discussion about the Marion City Recreation Commission baseball program with Brad and Anita Seacat.

— approved a ?Bucks for Building? application for E. Maloney at 528 N. Cedar.

— heard Mayfield report that the PurpleWave auction brought in $15,300 to the city coffers and everything sold. Auction items included cars, pickups and a few pieces of heavy-duty equipment.

— heard that U.S. Congress?man Jerry Moran would be visiting Marion Reservoir Tuesday afternoon to see the algae issues for himself. He met city and county officials at Cottonwood Point Beach.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 20, in council chambers.

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