County gives Huffman a bump in title and pay

Marion County commissioner appointed Teresa Huffman as economic development director for Marion County Monday.

Huffman had been serving as economic development secretary. Along with the position change, her salary was increased from $25,000 annually to $29,000.

In making the announcement, Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said she would be re-evaluated in six months with the possibility of another salary increase in the 2008 budget.

Huffman said, among her recent activities, that area residents should watch for programming on KWCH-TV Channel 12 about Burns, Florence, Goessel, Marion and Chingawassa Days. Programming is coming in May for Hillsboro and Peabody.

Huffman said she toured the county recently with Bob Fetters, south-central regional project manager for business development of the Kansas Department of Commerce, to get his input on what can be done.

She has been asked by Sherdeill Breathett Sr., Sedgwick County Economic Development in Wichita, to assist in the 2008 Business Retention & Expansion International Conference that meets in Saskatchewan in June.

She is working on getting a boat and RV dealer here, and on getting a new sign for Burns on U.S. Highway 77. Two county micro-loan applications have been received, she said, with one rejected and one pending.

Linda Ogden said efforts to help youth in Marion County have resulted in such things as lower alcohol binge drinking, but she is concerned about other issues such as rising poverty.

Ogden said that increases in free or reduced-rate lunches at the schools are good indicators that more county children are living in poverty. At Peabody alone, she said, 54 percent of the children in school get either reduced-rate or free meals.

County Clerk Carol Maggard announced sales tax received as of the end of April from collections in February at $46,132.90, the highest since prior to 2000.

The commissioners received a letter of support from the City of Marion for county effort in seeking a recycling grant.

The commissioners were told by Road and Bridge Director Jim Herzet and consultants that the county needs time to accumulate money, especially in the face of rising costs connected with the price of oil. For instance, bridge building needs to be carefully scheduled.

Herzet said from 250,000 to 300,000 gallons of road oil for patching may be needed this year at a current price of $1.47 a gallon.

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