Commissioners call for public meeting about roads

Marion County commissioners agreed at their July 14 meeting to call a public meeting for 7 p.m. Monday, July 20, at the Marion County Lake Hall to hear about county roads.

The commission took the action following weeks of meetings in which farm operators and homeowners have asked for more action in repairing roads washed out by unusually heavy spring and summer rains.

Jim Bob Watkins from the southeast corner of the county said the roads are so bad ?people are giving up.?

?They?re not complaining anymore,? Watkins said. ?They?ve lost any source for solutions.?

The commissioners discussed the magnitude of the problem with Commission Chairman Dan Holub saying, ?There?s 1,600 miles of roads in the county, but only one Randy Crawford (road and bridge director).?

Holub said some roads are nearly unfixable with deep washouts between the shoulders.

Commissioner Lori Lalouette said she wondered if people would support a half-cent sales tax to add to the road and bridge department effort.

Marion County has a centralized road and bridge department, but Watkins wondered about turning more road responsibilities over to townships, such as in Butler County, where he also owns ground.

Commissioner Randy Dallke suggested the public meeting to explore options.

Lalouette said, ?We need to know what it would take.?

Holub said with greater machinery expense and a lower population, Marion County has had to broaden responsibilities?for instance, going from 80 miles average per grader section driver 30 years ago to 132 miles today.

Watkins and Mike Beneke both offered to contribute gravel and road work in their areas with their own machinery, and said other farm operators would be willing to do the same.

Holub said that shouldn?t be expected of individuals. He added that outside contractors might leave the county with piles of lower-grade rock and liabilities for their work.

Later in the meeting, Crawford said it seems with all the heavy rains that every time his department ?takes one step forward, we have to take three or four steps back.?

Meanwhile, the commissioners awarded a road and bridge transport fuel bid of $16,208 for 5,000 gallons of diesel and 3,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline from Cooperative Grain and Supply of Hillsboro over a competitive bid of $16,465 from Cardie Oil Inc. of Tampa.

The commissioners approved the purchase of a commercial mower for Marion County Lake from Hale?s Sales and Service for $10,291 over alternative mower bids for both residential and commercial mowers from Ag Service of Hillsboro. The residential machine from Hale was priced at $9,120. The residential from Ag Service was priced at $9,804 and the commercial at $11,064.

The commissioners received budget presentations from Marion County Conservation District and Prairie View Inc.

The conservation district listed $715,000 paid out for 35 contracts in place for constructing improvements such as terraces, waterways and pipelines.

Prairie View said it is working with 50 to 60 percent of its mental health clientele homeless and two thirds of its clientele at a high level of need with a low ability to pay for it.

The commissioners met in 35 minutes of executive session for personnel with County Attorney Susan Robson and Emergency Management Director Brandy McCarty.

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