Commissioners ask Huffman to continue as MCEDC liaison

Marion County?s two participating commissioners agreed Monday that Teresa Huffman should continue to serve as the their liaison with the embattled Marion County Economic Development Council, and that the group should attempt to serve all communities in the county.

The interaction of commissioners Randy Dallke and Dan Holub with Huffman at their Monday meeting came on the heels of a rancorous MCEDC meeting the previous Wednesday in which Huffman resigned as its non-voting chair and sharp disagreements were voiced about the direction of the organization.

Huffman told the commissioners she was willing to continue serving as liaison because it?s part of her job description. But, she added, ?I feel there has been so much muddy water that I just need to not be there to keep it from churning. But I will for sure be there if you want me to.?

Holub and Dallke agreed that they?d like to ?fix? things with MCEDC so that it serves the needs of all the communities in the county.

The group has been characterized as being divided between the interests of the larger towns and the interests of the smaller towns. One specific issue has been bylaws about council representation?whether to base it on population size or have equal representation.

Holub said the infighting needs to end, and he would be willing to work on resolving the confusion. But he also added a stipulation for the interim.

?Until we get a system in place and give it some time, not a single check will be written without coming to us until we get this resolved,? he said.

MCEDC receives funding from the county.

Holub characterized the input of some council members toward Huffman as ?hateful? and ?brutal? at times, saying the group has been all but stymied for almost a year as it has debated proposed bylaw changes.

Dallke said commissioners have a limited ability to mandate changes on a volunteer council.

?I want to work with the volunteers, and I want to provide some help for them,? he said. ?We?ve tried different ways (to do that). We?ve been here when nobody could throw mud back at us, and now when people can throw mud back at us.

?I don?t want to dictate what this group does,? Dallke said. ?But it is Marion County that this group was put together for. If we can?t stay under that headline?Marion County?then I have to do some real thinking about where I want to go with it.?

Holub said the council has become ?political? with the primary objective of some members to have Huffman resign as economic development director.

?You can argue it all day long, but in my mind it is political,? Holub said. ?Maybe we just need to get the politics out of it and go back to volunteers?the people who want to be a part of it and want to help. And there?s a lot of them.?

Holub said he?s willing to try to work to restore purpose to the organization as it was intended, but he?s seen enough bickering.

?We have been anything but pushy,? he said. ?Right now I?m at the point of saying, ?This is the way the county?s going to do it. If you want to be part of it, fine. If you don?t, fine.?

?I?m not going to let bickering among communities destroy this (council),? he added. ?We?re hurting in these little towns. They need help, they want help, they?re working hard?and all we?ve done is bicker for a year.?

Holub said if efforts to unite the group don?t succeed, he would move for what he called ?the nuclear option??starting from scratch.

?We got to make this work, and if the way we?re going about it isn?t working, then we?ve got to do something different,? Holub said. ?Me, I?d like to start with all volunteers. We may have a small core at first, but we?ll go from there.?

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