The Marion County Commission voted 3-0 at its Monday meeting to ask the city of Marion for a variance on tower height regulations to allow construction of a 92-foot communications tower at the new jail located on Fourth Street.
Emergency Management Director Dan D’Albini said Darvin Markley had agreed to hold the county harmless in an unlikely event that any part of the tower should ever be damaged to fall on his property to the east of the jail.
The other two commissioners appeared to agree with Commissioner Roger Fleming when he said that protests by some Marion residents about the esthetics of the tower are un-warranted when the esthetics of water towers, electric poles and even the courthouse tower itself as sky clutter are considered.
Commissioner Randy Dallke explained that the half-foot fiber-optics cord bundle necessary for the tower discussed during last week’s meeting isn’t a single cord, but actually a bundle of probably 15 to 20 fiber-optic cords providing services for various entities that might provide services for companies and government.
Commissioner Dan Holub said the county is “running out of time” to get the tower in place by the end of July for an anticipated move to the new jail by then.
D’Albini said he would contact the possible contracting company to see if they could install the tower that quickly.
He and the commissioners agreed they might face a possibility of the company not being able to get the tower in that soon because of other business planned ahead of it—perhaps causing a delay even as late as the end of September.
Options that might be considered, they said, could include operating from a mobile emergency center for “a couple of weeks,” or trying to set up to operate from the current center in the old jail, perhaps requiring cable connections.
In regard to a large increase in cost and alleged shortcomings in service from the existing emergency cable provider, noted by Holub, D’Albini and Communications Director Linda Klenda, the commissioners voted to switch service to TBS Inc. at a cost of $12,960 annually.
Aging Department Coordinator Gayla Ratzlaff said she has only eight of 40 state-funded vouchers left for senior citizen purchases of fresh fruit and vegetables at farmers’ markets.
Participating markets, she said, where vendors may collect from the state on-line or by mail include Florence, Peabody, Marion and Hillsboro.
Ratzlaff said the senior citizen center in Goessel has been sold, but from six to eight residents receive regular “meals on wheels” delivered by church volunteers.
John Barker of Abilene, candidate for the 70th District Kansas House of Representatives to succeed Bob Brookens of Marion, said in regard to the 10-year Kansas tax exemption for the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, “We got the short end of that deal.”
Holub told Barker that Marion County would have received $3 million annually from Keystone with $1.3 million to the county and the remainder to other county taxing units such as school districts.
Barker said Dickinson County sustained similar lost revenue. He promised future action if he is elected to make sure such a revenue loss doesn’t happen again.
The commissioners renewed the county solid waste assessment fee with no change.
Linda Ogden, who is retiring as director of Families and Communities Together, introduced her successor, Ashlee Gann of Hillsboro, formerly of Garden City.
County Clerk Carol Maggard said the county’s tax valuation has increased $246,580 from November 2011.
County Attorney Susan Robson announced the appointment of Dan Baldwin as second assistant county attorney after Brian Bina was announced last week as first assistant county attorney.
The commissioners voiced support to Dale Ehlers for continued youth and handicapped hunting of deer at the old landfill southwest of Marion, and for opening to all upland bird permits for applicants with up to two guests.
Ehlers said the program could bring new revenue into the county with meals and motel stays.
Flint Hills Building Supply at Marion was awarded a bid of $720.14 for building materials for use at the Marion County fairgrounds over competitive bids of $820.05 from The Lumber Yard at Hillsboro and $956.35 from Peabody Lumber.