County hears ?trade secrets? about new businesses

New businesses may be coming to Marion County but all discussions regarding them Monday at the Marion County Board of Commissioners meeting were held in executive session for ?trade secrets.?

After a five-minute executive session with Teresa Huffman, the county?s economic development director, the commissioners voted 3-0 to approve signing an ?environmental review record? for a potential business without saying what the business was.

Then a delegation from Dickinson County, including Finance Director Janelle Dockendorf, Administrator Gina Bell and Economic Development Coordinator Cindy Roots, met with the commissioners and Huffman to discuss a ?potential economic development? they said could ?spill over into or involve? Marion County.

Dickinson County borders Marion County on the north.

New watershed district?

Commissioner Bob Hein said the county should support the creation of a new watershed district with the support of the Natural Resources and Conser?vation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Marion County in the southeast part of the county around 50th and Alfalfa Road.

Road and Bridge Director John Summerville said NRCS consultants have told him a stream there that drains 2,800 acres is naturally changing course to create problems washing out a new creek bed down the road. It has created a situation where landowners sometimes lose ?a block of fence? at a time, and actually have to build fence lines higher, losing some land next to the road.

A county road grader trying to take dirt from the ditches to crown the road actually created more problems on ?the soft muck surface? by making landowner entry gates more difficult to access, he said.

Summerville said NRCS consultants told him a watershed lake might help contain the problem.

But Commission Chairman Dan Holub noted that NRCS doesn?t have as much funding to work with such projects as it used to have.

Keystone pipeline

The commissioners said they received a letter from State Sen. Jim Barnett promising he will look into state exemptions from property taxes for the Trans?canada Keystone pipeline to be built through this area for transporting Canadian oil slurry.

They also received notice from Dickinson County inviting officials from counties affected to join in a meeting at 6:30 p.m. July 29 at the county health department in Abilene.

Holub said Dickinson County estimates its share of property taxes from Keystone would be $300,000 annually, but that includes a pump station.

Hein said, ?We?d still get a pretty good chunk, too.?

Appraiser Cindy Magill said Keystone doesn?t meet current criteria for exemption by Kansas statute, such as providing branch lines to Kansas refineries.

Holub said Keystone will want access to east and west county roads coming off Kansas Highway 15, with the potential for transporting such things as heavy equipment and 80-foot lengths of pipe. The effort could damage roads and bridges.

The commissioners also received a paper from Steve Schmidt of the Santa Fe Trail Association expressing concerns with the trail because of Keystone.

GIS project

Three department heads of seven departments affected by budget met with the commissioners to discuss how to handle budgeting of the county?s developing geographical information system.

Emergency Management Director Michele Abbott suggested the GIS project be made a budget line item under direct control of the commissioners, ?to make it cleaner and easier,? instead of being split into seven different departmental funds that then all pay costs as needed.

Magill said $52,500 had been budgeted this year for the project, and then split seven ways. Costs of the project as more needs are revealed in its development will rise to $9,400 per department, nearly $63,000, next year, she said.

Abbott said the development and complexity of the system has led some other counties to create separate GIS departments.

Planning and Zoning Director Bobbi Strait said departments in this county have to go to Magill?s department for basic information anyway, and GIS helps all their efforts with different ?layers? of information.

Magill said the appraiser?s office has to maintain descriptions and information on 1,297 parcels of rural and urban real estate in the county.

She said with the layers of information under GIS and its accompanying mapping and aerial photography of the county, entities like cities could come use the system to do functions like mapping all fire hydrant locations.

Or, she said, the system could track the locations of all day care centers in the county so that in an emergency situation, officials would know where children were, she said.

The system can provide a map of the locations of all cellars and basements in the county, or it can map an animal rabies outbreak for the health department to see where it is occurring, she said.

Hein said at several points he thought separate budget functioning for the system is a good idea.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said he has no problems with the system, but he wants to be cautious in proceeding to see what repeated funding for upgrades might be needed periodically in the future.

Magill estimated that some updates might be needed every four to five years, but could become more major ?if for instance you began changing the names of the roads.?

She said the system also would allow the county to access and utilize more data from the state.The commissioners said there might be a point in charging other political units for using the system, but probably no point in asking the cities to share in its cost.

?The cities are like us: ?Where are you going to get the money??? Dallke said.

Other business

Abbott showed commissioners a check she just received for $10,381.62 in state and local assistance grant funds for emergency management awarded to Marion County because it keeps its emergency department up to date.

She said Federal Emergency Management Act officials will be here this week to discuss reimbursing the county, its cities, and its school districts for costs associated with the March 26-29 snow and ice storm and the April 24-May 16 flood events.

She said governmental units will be able to recoup such costs as road repairs and clearing through FEMA. The commissioners told Summerville to go ahead with helping the city of Peabody replace a collapsed bridge with a boxed bridge?providing the city is willing to pay for materials and provide extra men to help.

A meeting scheduled with Marion County Lake residents to discuss roads has been postponed until August because of the death of Dan Crumrine, Marion County Lake Improve?ment District chairman.

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