County considers Building a storm shelter for lake visitors

Storm events of the last two weeks led the Marion County Commission Monday to begin plans for a storm shelter for Marion County Lake modeled after one on the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

Emergency Management and Communications Director Michele Abbott-Becker said there were 50 people at the lake ?wanting to get into our little shelter? during Memorial Day weekend tornado warnings.

She also said she thought about the Iowa Boy Scout camp disaster while seeing the Girl Scout encampment at the lake last week. Abbott-Becker said she had asked herself what would happen if such a disaster occurred here?

After researching the issue, she decided Marion County has a good chance of obtaining something similar to the 5,200 square-foot building capable of sheltering 400 persons on a 75 percent federal, 25 percent local cost-sharing that could possibly even go to 100 percent federal.

But, before she pursued such a grant, Abbott-Becker wanted the commissioners to start thinking about it because they may have to pay for architectural plans to apply for a grant with no guarantee of a plan.

She said the Corps of Engineers could seek the same type of a facility at Marion Reservoir.

The Iowa building also houses showers and restrooms.

Commissioner Dan Holub said to consider the possibility of a ?scaled down version? in case financing the Iowa model is too expensive.

Abbott-Becker and the commissioners discussed different spots in the jail building where a possible third communications desk might be located using funds that include the $7,000 balance left from encumbered funds already in the department.

County Clerk Carol Maggard said that County Treasurer Jeannine Bateman has voluntarily turned over $79,752.84 in motor vehicle funds to the county general fund, although she is entitled by state law to keep the funds in her department.

Maggard said Bateman has repeatedly done this, and it is always a welcome addition to county funds, although it is not budgeted for.

Bateman retained $61,947.06 for continued vehicle office operations.

Maggard said the county cash on hand at the end of May was $13.7 million with $3.2 million in the county general fund and $1.7 million in road and bridge. The county cash balance does not necessarily indicate money available to the county because it can include taxes collected for other government entities such as schools and cities.

Roger Hannaford, candidate for 70th District state representative, told the commissioners that if he is elected he will ?work closely with you guys and be a listener.?

Linda Ogden, director of Communities in Schools, said the highly beneficial program for at-risk children and youths may come to rely on more local funding as grant support declines.

CIS helped found such programs as Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Parents as Teachers in Marion County, she said. It also helped reduce underage alcohol and cigarette use, which normally precurses harder drug use that may develop, she said.

Ogden said another successful program, represented by the Learning Center in Hillsboro, needs to be repeated with facilities in other towns in the county as it becomes more and more difficult for teenagers to get fuel money to go to Hillsboro.

She said that especially the northern part of the county needs support in developing new youth hang-outs like The Hub in Peabody, which is helping to blend foster children into the community and lower underage alcohol abuse.

CIS receives $6,000 annually from the county through the health department, she said.

Sheriff Lee Becker said training of the department?s recently acquired police dog has gone well. So far, the dog was used once on a search warrant, and once to apprehend a suspect hiding in a field.

Becker said his officers may be required to assist in rounding up roving goats that have been eating crops in the southwest part of the county.

John Summerville, acting road and bridge director, said he has been compiling fuel figures for this year and last year, plus projecting costs, and he believes the department will be OK for this year.

The commissioners approved 3-0 Summerville?s request to spend $170,000 of department money for 14 box bridges from McPherson Concrete before rapidly rising prices make the purchase more prohibitive.

Summerville said the concrete bridges recently went up $200 a running foot, ?and they?re continuing to go up so fast, I can?t keep up with the quotes.?

In response to a question from Commissioner Randy Dallke, Summerville said road and bridge will install four of the boxes this summer if work proceeds as planned, but he knows all of the boxes will be needed.

Commission Chairman Bob Hein said, ?The way things are going up, I think we better move on this and get this price locked in.?

The commissioners met three times in executive session with Bobbi Strait, planning, zoning and environmental director?twice with only Strait and once with Health Department Administrator Diedre Serene.

Afterward Holub moved to allow Strait to hire an administrative assistant because of growing inspection and groundwater responsibilities at a rate of $1,713 a month.

The motion died for lack of a second.

After a short discussion, Dallke moved to allow the hire at the same rate, but contingent on quarterly reviews to see if the work load of the job justifies the employee.

This passed 3-0.

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