Funding for county eco-devo work sparks debate

Marion County Community Economic Development Corp. board member Mike Beneke spoke to the commission in a special meeting Jan. 31 about allowing the group to have its total allocation of $165,000, minus $41,250 already paid in January.

After some debate, the commission voted 2-1 in favor of providing three-quarters of the $165,000 at the end of February with the final quarter paid in the fall.

Beneke said he requested the entire amount so that the group had start-up money for expenses, which would include hiring a new director.

At first Commissioner Randy Dallke agreed the group should have the entire amount, to which Commissioner Kent Becker agreed. But after further discussion, Dallke changed his mind and agreed to pay out 75 percent Feb. 28.

Commission Chair Dianne Novak expressed concerned that the group doesn’t have a plan or budget, and thus far no presentation has been made to the commission.

Beneke said: “We will have a monthly statement prepared for all stakeholders concerned, and we again discussed an administrative assistant. We narrowed down the prospects (Tuesday, Jan. 30) from six people down to two.”

In addition, Beneke said the group is still down one member from both Hillsboro and Marion to complete the nine-member board, and they aren’t wanting to consider the two at-large members until they have a full board.

“It’s been quite an eye-opening experience (being on this board) and private business is sure a lot different than government employment,” Beneke said,

“(Our priority) is first to assist our current businesses, then recruiting new businesses as our second priority. We also need to have a job fair and start talking to our high school, college students and those in internship programs,” he said.

Transfer station

Talk about a new transfer station was also discussed with Dallke wanting the other commissioners to consider another option entirely.

Dallke said he is uncomfortable with a $4.6 million price tag for building a new transfer station north of the current one.

“I am wanting to suggest the south site location be studied further as a possible place for the transfer station,” he said.

Dallke said he was referring to was near the county-owned property close to the road and bridge department.

The commission decided to have BG Consultants look at the area Thursday in a special meeting. At that time, Bruce Boettcher of BG Consultants talked with the commissioners about the pros and cons of building a facility south of Marion.

Doug Lind, who owns land near that site, said he was concerned about the Washington Street locations because of property he has adjacent to it.

Lind said he concerned about drainage, access to his property and the condition of a wooden bridge in that area.

Following the discussion back in commission chambers, Boettcher was directed to compare costs for the proposed facility at reach location with less pavement and the lower cost option with a 100-by-80 foot and 100-by-100 foot facility

Other business

In other business, the commission:

◼ approved a change order on the 330th project for a decrease of $11,154 from Bergkamp Construction.

◼ heard from Bud Druse, director of the transfer station, about recycling reports.

◼ received financial reports from Jeannine Bateman, county treasurer, on financial reports for the fourth quarter of 2017. Bateman said her office has collected 60 percent of the taxes and distribution was higher going out.

◼ reviewed area fuel bids presented by Jesse Hamm, road and bridge director. Agri Trails Cooperative was awarded the bid of $3,332 and $4,680, with Cooperative Grain awarded the area two bid of $4,641. Cooperative Grain was also awarded the transport fuel bid of $18,944. Hamm also asked if he could talk with some of the larger manufacturers regarding equipment purchases.

◼ heard from Hamm about the rock he received from Woodbine and how the first two loads that went on Pawnee Road were fine, but the next load of rock was “really, really dirty.” Woodbine officials were planning to check it out and were willing to resolve the problem to the county’s satisfaction.