County development board opts to shift focus

The Marion County Economic Development Council voted unanimously at its Dec. 15 meeting to change its focus in the new year to marketing and tourism only.

In addition, the council will decrease the number of board members from 25 to nine, selecting members from the three county commission districts.

?It?s already defined,? said MCEDC member Shane Marler of Peabody.

The council also decided to change the name of the group at a later date.

After two months of not meeting for lack of a quorum, a majority of members were ready for a change.

In addition to 13 members present, Marion County Commissioners Randy Dallke and Dan Holub said they came to listen to concerns, hardships and other thoughts from the group.

?We have lost direction,? said Anita Goertzen of Goessel, chairing the group. ?We have no cohesion.

?A lot of businesses in Marion County are outside the city limits,? she said, ?and they are paying taxes too.?

Mayor Peggy Jay of Goessel spoke about Teresa Huffman, Marion County Economic Development director, and her involvement.

Jay said when the group decided to change the by-laws and appoint a chairperson, removing Huffman from that position, nothing was getting done.

?(Huffman) needs to be part of the group,? Jay said. ?We need to be working with her.?

Unlike some of the larger towns that have economic development, Goertzen said, the smaller towns only have tourism.

Trayce Warner, who hasn?t been a member of MCEDC that long said all she has ever known on the board is ?strife.?

A majority of the members present agreed they didn?t want to see the council disband, but added that something needed to change.

?This vehicle is malfunctioning,? one member said.

Another concern raised involved using public money and how that can become a problem.

?What if the county commissioners continued to budget $8,000, but in order to expend it, the group would need to make a request?? Marler asked.

Goertzen said she thought that would slow the process down.

Someone else suggested Huffman hold the money in her economic development account.

?Because of the friction in the past,? she said she wouldn?t want to be involved in approving expenditures.

The decision on who to appoint for the nine-member board will be determined by the commissioners in January.

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