Colleagues cool to Holub?s push for pipeline action

Commissioner Dan Holub said Monday at the Marion County Commission meeting that the commissioners need to stay informed about events concerning the TransCanada Keystone Canadian oil pipeline that runs through the county to help protect landowners.

Holub said landowners were threatened by Keystone with eminent domain legal action with less reimbursement when the company had no recourse to eminent domain.

He charged that landowners unwittingly signed away rights for installing additional pipelines, perhaps for natural gas or other substances, when they didn?t have to, and for which Keystone won?t have to pay additional compensation.

Holub said the county needs to stand up for its citizens in situations like this.

Holub has closely followed, and been involved with, efforts of Kansas counties to prevent granting Keystone a 10-year property tax exemption.

He said all Keystone actually had to start with was a presidential permit that would have allowed it to tie into Ameri?can pipelines on the U.S. side of the border.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said he hadn?t talked to anyone ?in my area of the county,? which is centered on Peabody, who felt they were pushed into an agreement with Keystone.

Dallke said, ?You?re adding a lot to it, Dan.?

Commission Chairman Roger Fleming said he felt like the matter is in state hands rather than being a county issue.

Dallke said the most reaction he sees from county landowners is when local companies such as Atmos Energy, for which Dallke works, wants to run pipelines. He said landowners want more money for the crossing because they got it from Keystone.

Other business

Concerning jail construction in Marion, Dallke said contractors expect the roof of the building to go up the first week of December.

Dennis Maggard, road and bridge signs manager, showed new, larger road signs to the commissioners to replace signs mostly gone because of vandalism and thefts.

He said it wouldn?t be practical to replace county road names to something less attractive to thieves, like simple alphabetical names and numbers, because the post office, emergency management, utilities and others have already adapted the current names at great expense.

The commissioners voted to replace current signage at major intersections with larger signs, but to replace signs on backroads with the same sizes of signs.

The commissioners authorized Teresa Huffman, the county?s economic development director to purchase nine more reusable, free-standing, all-weather signs. One such sign was used last week to advertise the textile show in Marion.

Huffman said the state?s rural opportunity zone program will try to work with her on more affordable housing to attract younger people to Marion.

The commissioners refused an opportunity presented by Huffman to accept ownership of a repossessed home in Marion offered by Wells Fargo Bank. The Marion City Council earlier rejected the proposal as well.

The commissioners authorized Steve Smith, Emergency Medical Services director, to check with the county?s ambulance provider about correcting faulty sealing of the Tampa ambulance that allows dust into the interior when transporting patients.

Smith reported 100 ambulance calls for October, including 14 from Peabody, seven from Florence, three back-up, 33 from Marion, 33 from Hillsboro and 10 from Tampa.

They included nine transfers, one cardiac, 36 medical emergency, 11 standby, 14 motor vehicle accidents, nine falls and 20 no-transports.

There were four first-response runs?one from Hillsboro, two from Goessel and one from Lincolnville.

The commissioners voted 2-1, with Dallke against, to authorized Park and Lake Superinten?dent Steve Hudson to change a part-time employee to full-time with the employee to be shared with the transfer station or road and bridge during the slow winter season at the lake.

The commissioners authorized Hudson to offer the same money-generating events next year at the lake as this year, including bluegrass performances, crappie fishing tournament and a chili cook-off.

They also authorized raising the heated dock shelter membership rate from $10 annually to $15 plus, an additional $5 charge for locker space.

The commissioners authorized Rollin Schmidt, transfer station director, to purchase a semitrailer for waste transportation for $53,780 from Steco Trailers at Enid, Okla.

The commissioners agreed the county will pay for the return of bodies sent to Topeka for autopsy as legally required in cases where the body was that of a juvenile or in unattended death cases.

The commissioners said they will invite the head of the state property tax division, David Harper, to the Nov. 21 meeting to answer questions on when the county appraiser can override state valuation decisions.

Holub said allegations in a newspaper advertisement by Mr. and Mrs. Carl Stovall were incorrect or misleading. He said a device used by a county employee was a laser measuring device, not a camera.

Holub said county employees were denied chances to talk about home uses leading to misunderstanding.

He said other buildings on the property were found to be of varied uses, not just farm use.

During a discussion with Tom Brown of Savant Services, contractor for developing the county strategic plan, Dallke said he was concerned with last week?s report in the Free Press that Marion County has one of the larger percentage populations of senior citizens among counties in Kansas.

He said the story increases concerns of providing services for senior citizens limited to Social Security income while also increasing job opportunities to attract younger people to the county.

Brown said it is imperative for Marion County to help ?create and maintain a healthy, competitive business environment that encourages investment and growth.?

He and the commissioners noted that the road and bridge department has adopted a new plan for orderly road improvement that should help the county in the future.

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