Agri-tourism businesses bring more residents to the county

Rural entrepreneurs may require more public funding for roads and signs.

The agri-tourism business is attracting more Marion County residents, Economic Develop?ment Director Teresa Huffman reported to the Marion County Commission Nov. 13.

She said two more businesses may be locating close to an existing agri-tourism business, Wee Little Acres, at 300th and Falcon.

That business needs more gravel on the road for the traffic it is bringing in, she said.

Huffman said the state is changing from a policy of allowing signs only for properties zoned commercial or industrial to letting agri-tourism businesses post signs for property zoned agricultural. She had to get special permission for Wee Little Acres to have a sign.

Huffman said the Marion County Economic Development Council has found a bus for tourism that it would pay for, but the county would own, with its expenses paid for by advertising on it.

Jim and Debra Whitfill spoke to the commissioners about their proposals to operate a business at Marion County Lake including cabins and small boat craft, and possibly even a breakfast cafe in one end of the lake building.

The Whitfills said the building has restrooms and kitchen facilities on both ends. They said they could use one end while the other end was retained for public use. The commissioners said they would need to research legalities of the proposal and use commitments of the lake building.

The proposed boat business would include kayaks, canoes, paddle boats and two-man fishing boats that could operate from a sand beach area.

The Whitfills said their cabins would range from primitive to models with bathrooms and kitchenettes to bunkhouses for groups.

They will make a formal proposal at a later time.

The commissioners approved construction of a six-section lake dock for $13,349 to be paid from the park capital outlay fund.

Steve Hudson, park superintendent, said he plans to release additional catfish for fishing enthusiasts a little at a time at a total cost of $2,500.

Bobbi Strait, director of planning and zoning and environmental health, said a conditional use permit has been granted to Alltel for construction of a cellular tower on property owned by Floyd and JoAnn Nickel on the Southwest quarter of section 8-21-1.

She said that Neil Hett has also applied for a building permit for a 24-by-32-foot office building to be located at his stone business between Marion and Peabody to replace a mobile home he was allowed to have temporarily.

The county treasurer?s office reported county cash on hand as of Oct. 31 at $7,478,034 with $2,253,151 in the county general fund and $993,618.18 in road and bridge. Special auto fund expenses for October totaled $3,095.

Cardie Oil of Tampa was awarded a road and bridge transport fuel bid for 8,000 gallons of diesel at $25,248.50 over a competitive bid of $25,257.50 from Cooperative Grain & Supply at Hillsboro.

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