Hosting ‘Symphony’ will be major task, county hear

The City of Florence will need the county?s help, and perhaps that of the other cities of the county, to be the gateway community hosting a probable 30,000 people for the June 2009 rendition of the Symphony in the Flinthills, according to Teresa Huffman, Marion County economic director.

Huffman told the Marion County Commission at its regular Monday meeting that the music and nature event will be ?vibrant? not only in its actual content but in its economic spinoff for the entire county and neighboring counties.

She asked the commissioners for $6,000 toward the event, and they responded by giving $2,500 in 2008, with the probable balance to be given in 2009, depending on how they see the first money was used.

Huffman will control the money and keep a spreadsheet on it. She said event organizers provide another $17,000, regardless of what the county does.

Organizers at Council Grove and Eskridge, towns where the event was held previously, told her, she said, that the event engenders many future visits back to the communities by the people who attend.

She said Council Grove, with a downtown district much larger than that at Florence, decided in advance to only have its own restaurants act in food vending. They told her that proved to be a mistake because there wasn?t enough.

Huffman, who promoted Marion County at the Kansas State Fair earlier this month, said she went early each day to visit food vendors and those in charge of food vendors at the fair to encourage them to come to Florence next year. Many have responded positively, she said.

Both Eskridge and Council Grove reported to her that the crowd coming in mostly seems to want to shop for merchandise, eat and be entertained by various musicians. Very little interest was shown toward historical tours that were promoted, they said.

They said approximately 7,000 persons actually attended the symphony with the majority of the crowd coming in early for the events surrounding it.

Huffman predicted that all Marion County motels and beds and breakfasts will fill plus large spillovers into neighboring counties.

?It?s like another arts and crafts fair,? she said. ?Florence will need help. It doesn?t have a large enough downtown area to support this by itself.?

County Clerk Carol Maggard agreed with Commission Chairman Bob Hein that the easiest place for the county to collect funds for Florence was sales tax.

County Commissioner Dan Holub said the Kansas Water Office of the State Board of Agriculture has shifted funds around for emergency log jam cleanup at John Redmond Reservoir but as far as funds requested by Marion County to help forestall sedimentary filling at Marion Reservoir, ?we?re out of it.?

Holub said he fears that water shortages predicted to occur as early as 2012 for water users in the Neosho River basin will bring lawsuits from other states, for example Oklahoma, for water shares from reservoirs such as Marion?just as Kansas sued Colorado to force water release on the Arkansas.

He asked that the Commission be in communication with its incumbent and new legislator to get money for the reservoir.

All Marion County can do by itself without such help, Hein said, is perhaps join other agencies in building sedimentation ponds with cover vegetation. He joined Holub in saying the county needs to keep working on it.

Commissioner Randy Dallke suggested sending out a letter to other communities in the Neosho River Basin asking for support.

Rollin Schmidt, transfer station director, is continuing to investigate household solid waste dumping fees closer to Marion County to see if the county can save money over transporting garbage to Perry east of Topeka.

He said his counterpart in Butler County will talk to his county commission next week on giving a quote to Marion County for the tipping fee in Butler County. Schmidt said this likely will be $30 a ton, which is identical to the quote from Saline County.

But Schmidt confirmed for commissioners that 20 miles of fuel and travel would be saved on each of three or four loads weekly at Butler, compared to going to Saline. He said the Saline landfill is approximately 65 miles from Marion while the Butler landfill is approximately 45 miles.

The commissioners received notice from the Kansas Division of Water Resources that it no longer will be required to build up the spillway at Marion County Lake as part of hazard mitigation because the program is being dropped by the state. The letter said that Marion County will be responsible for inspecting and insuring the safety of its own dam.

The commissioners received a letter from Doug Kjellin, economic development from Marion, questioning whether the county?s tax abatement program on new or remodeling business construction for main street development would really be worth pursuing when compared to tax costs to Marion residents.

The commissioners met with Architect Tony Rangel of Law/Kingdon in the afternoon to finalize public presentations to explain the need to build a new law enforcement facility under the sales tax bond question on the November ballot.

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