Holub encountered his share of difficult issues as commissioner

“An elected official should pay attention to what people are saying. Someone doesn’t have to look for problems; they will come to them. And don’t let the job wear you down.”For 12 years, Dan Holub of rural Marion served as the Marion County commissioner in the 2nd District, but in the Nov. 8 election he was defeated by challenger Dianne No­vak.

Holub talked with the Free Press about some of his experiences over those 12 years.

Holub said he was involved in many controversial issues during his tenure, including the new jail, a ca­sino, zoning changes, resurrecting a Sub-Title D landfill, roads and more.

A new jail

The first meeting to discuss a new jail was in late September 2008.

“(The county) originally looked at a 72-bed, $12 million facility,” he said. “We also considered renting jail cells. When we talked about the price tag, (constituents) looked like baby owls—all you saw was the whites of their eyeballs.”

Because of that look, the commissioners decided to form a committee to study the issue.

“The committee scaled down the jail project from a $12 million facility to a $3.5 million, 32-bed building,” he said.

A lot of people opposed the use of sales tax to pay for the jail, Holub said, because a tax increase would draw business away from the county.

“Other people didn’t believe the 1 cent sales-tax proposal with the jail would drop off, but it has to because it’s state law.”

Holub said in two or three more years the jail will be paid off, or money will be in escrow to make the payment.

“The state requires that by 2023 the sales tax needs to drop off,” he said. “And (the county) is looking at 2018 or early 2019 to have the money in the bank to make the final payment.”

The alternative to building a new jail would have been to haul prisoners to one of five different places, he said.

Marion County Sheriff Rob Craft would have had inmates in Newton, Pratt, Dodge City or wherever room was available.

“We would have spent a fortune hauling all those prisoners (back to Marion) for court, a doctor’s appointment or other reasons,” he said.

Roads

When it comes to roads, Holub said Marion County is almost a “perfect” grid.

“When the county was laid out, probably in the early 1900s, there was an east-­west road and north-south road every mile,” Holub said.

Marion County doesn’t have meandering roads like other counties, he said, referring to Butler, McPherson and Harvey counties.

Holub said when he and Randy Dallke first got on the commission board it was all about paving roads, because there were too many potholes.

“I can’t remember the last time I heard someone complain about potholes on paved roads, except for that problem with Roxbury Road,” he said. “That’s one thing I am glad I don’t have to deal with anymore.”

The county knows what it will take to fix it, he said, but the cost is estimated at $6.5 million to $8 million for eight miles of road. For residents in Ramona, Tampa and Lost Springs, that section of the Roxbury Road is the main access to McPherson and Salina.

“People have said how nice the McPherson side is, and that part is OK,” Holub said. “But McPherson County just spent the last three to five years working on it and it’s already starting to do to them what (our side) did to us.”

The problem

Holub said the problem with the Roxbury Road, which is the eight-mile stretch west of Tampa to Kansas Highway 15, is the water table started two years ago.

The county’s road and bridge department put two inches of asphalt on the road west of Tampa, and one-half inch on the other side, he said.

“We knew two inches of asphalt was questionable, but the road lasted two or three years, but when the rains started again, the water table rose, and the road started falling apart.”

When that water table gets too high, he said, it creates major potholes and other problems.

“There are a lot of springs out there and it’s always been a problem because of the water table.”

He said motorists driving on Roxbury Road will notice water seepage on a hot summer day when the limestone is white on the edges and darker in the middle.

Holub said, according to road personnel and other officials, the only way to fix it is to dig down several feet, redo the whole base, put in drainage pipes and matting to help support it.

“(County officials) know the road needs the base widened and the ditches deepened,” he said.

Landfill issues

Even though the transfer station/Sub-Title D landfill was initiated before his time, Holub said, he and Commissioner Randy Dallke, also then newly elected, did talk about it.

“We could have brought the (Sub-Title D) landfill discussions back, and there were people interested in a location south of Marion.”

But the landfill discussion ceased almost as quickly as it started after efforts to get it done once before had failed.

“It was like refighting a battle already lost,” he said.

It failed to gain public approval because constituents didn’t want trash brought in from Wichita, he said.

Looking back, Holub said if the county had done the regulated EPA landfill, the old landfill wouldn’t have been an issue.

“The transfer station is an $800,000 project and the county is still monitoring the landfill for another 20 years,” he said. “It’s an expense we have that we didn’t have to.”

This and that

Holub said he has dealt with a lot of issues in his 12 years bring a casino to the county.

He maintains it could have helped the county in economic development efforts with jobs, new businesses and more, but now the county will never know, he said.

Another high-profile issue was the Keystone Pipeline. Holub said it cost Marion County millions in tax dollars when it became tax exempt.

Showing his sense of self-deprecating humor, Holub reflected on the so-called “Holub Memorial Highway” near Tampa.

“It was during a time when everyone was beating (the county) up about asphalt roads,” he said.

Holub said he has heard his share of complaints, but it goes with the territory.

“It’s the nature of the game,” he said. “In 12 years I didn’t make a single decision that didn’t make someone mad.”

At one point, Holub joked with Dallke that if the county gave all its citizens a check for $1 million, 15-20 percent of the population would still be mad about it.

“If public officials are worried about not making anybody mad, they are in the wrong business,” he said.

After serving 12 years on the board of commissioners, Holub offered some advice for anyone entering into public service.

“An elected official should pay attention to what people are saying,” he said. “Someone doesn’t have to look for problems, they will come to them. And don’t let the job wear you down.”

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