Marion seeking volunteers to serve as reps on MCEDC

The city of Marion is looking for residents to fill all five vacant seats on the Marion County Economic Development Council.

For more than seven months, Marion has been without full voting representation on MCEDC. Mayor Mary Olson said she hopes residents will step up and fill these positions in the new year.

The seats were formerly filled by Margo Yates, Todd Heit?schmidt, Jackie Crofoot and Don Noller, who resigned in mid-June, followed by Doug Kjellin in late fall.

?We need people who are looking at what?s best for Marion County and the city of Marion,? Olson said.

In an attempt to begin filling those seats, Olson tried to convince city council members at the Dec. 28 council meeting to approve a woman who lived in Lincolnville, but works in Marion.

Councilor Steve Smith said he could not vote to put someone on the MCEDC board unless they lived in or around the city of Marion. Other council members agreed with Smith.

Although the councilors, by concensus, are eager to fill the open seats, they indicated they want representatives to be members of their own community or an outlying area, including the county lake east of town.

Currently, MCEDC bylaws allow for 26 voting members, based on city population size. Hillsboro is allowed six representatives, Marion five, Peabody three, Florence and Goessel two each, and Tampa, Lincolnville, Ramona, Burns, Durham, Lehigh and Lost Springs each with one vote.

The city of Marion isn?t the only community not fully represented on the board, according to Teresa Huffman, its executive director. Representatives are needed from Durham, Lehigh and Ramona.

?Being a representative on this council is a great way to serve your community and the county,? Huffman said.

She said there is no specific criteria to serve other than to be a resident of Marion County and to have a ?deep desire? to work with the other MCEDC members for the good of the entire county.

Representatives would also need to become involved in one of the MCEDC committees: marketing, tourism or business retention and expansion.

Olson said another important part of serving as a representative is helping other towns when necessary. ?Even though someone is representing Marion, they are on the (countywide) council,? she said.

Huffman said, ?Represent?atives should be willing to make it a priority to attend the meetings and serve on one of the committees. This is where the real work is done and decisions are made.?

MCEDC meets once a month during the lunch hour. Most committee meetings are held before or after lunch on that day. Meeting locations move around the county and are announced in advance via e-mail.

Recently, MCEDC added new members: Tish Keesling from Lost Springs and Kristin Ebaben from Lincolnville.

?In the past, these communities were not represented on the council and the new members have been faithful to attend and participate on a committee,? Huffman said.

?We also have a new representative from Tampa, Cheri Bentz, and she is very involved.?

Bentz succeeds the late Jim Clemmer, former mayor of Tampa, who served on the council for more than 20 years.

?He was very faithful and involved,? Huffman said.

Anyone interested in filling one of the five open seats in Marion or from one of the other towns needing a representative, should call Huffman at 620-382-8830 or stop by her office, 200 S. Third, Suite 4, Marion.

For Marion residents interested in becoming a member, Olson has regular office hours at the city building, 208 E. Santa Fe, Marion, from 10 a.m. to noon on Mondays and Tuesdays. She also can be reached to set up an appointment at 620-382-3703.

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