Maintaining rural roads a key issue for county

Work on the roundabout east of Marion prompted a detour that brought more than 2,500 vehicles through Marion?s Main Street as a project detour?between 500 to 600 of those being trucks.
Work on the roundabout east of Marion prompted a detour that brought more than 2,500 vehicles through Marion?s Main Street as a project detour?between 500 to 600 of those being trucks.
The road through 2015 became difficult for county-government leaders when significant rain in late spring exposed gravel inadequacies on many rural roads in the face of limited county budgets.

Near the end of the year, the county lost its road and bridge director and commissioners found themselves facing a challenge within the county?s Emergency Medical Services structure.

January

PowerUps is a new group is taking shape in Marion County with the intent of bringing young adults together socially and professionally. Terry Jones, economic development director for Marion, said the concept was first introduced by Marci Penner of the Kansas Sampler Foundation.

Lori Lalouette, a Hills?boro attorney, was sworn in as the 1st District commissioner for Marion County by 8th District Court Judge Michael Powers.

Diedre Serene, county health department administrator, confirmed that the potential for a red measles outbreak here is high.

February

County commissioners were formally introduced to Renae Riedy, the family and consumer science agent assigned to the county by K-State Research and Exten?sion in October. Pre?viously, she worked in the Dickinson County Health Department and with USD 487-Herington.

Through a partnership with Eagle Communica?tions, the Marion City Coun?cil unanimously approved bringing Wi-Fi free public access to the downtown business district and Central Park.

A bald eagle was shot and killed Feb. 4 at Marion Reservoir; state and federal officials are investigating the incident. The bald eagle is protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

Subject to approval by 911 Emergency Medical Ser?vices, residents living in the Wilden Subdivision at Marion County Lake will have their addresses changed to Lois Lane rather than Lakeshore Drive.

A house in Marion was destroyed by fire Feb. 13 even though more than 30 firefighters from Marion, Florence and Hillsboro spent 18 hours fighting the blaze. The two-story home, owned by Gina Schaefer was unoccupied.

County commis?sioners notified Jesse Brun??ner, Emergency Medi?cal Services ambulance crew chief at Tampa, to resign his position. They also notified the Tampa ambulance crew to come up with a new crew chief within 72 hours.

March

The wife and husband team of Carol Duerksen and Maynard Knepp Hillsboro celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first installment of their self-published series of novels about the Amish people with the debut of a one-man show titled, ?Jonas, the Life and Times of an Amishman,? March 8 at the Goessel High School Audit?orium.

County residents had the opportunity to become better aware of local and area health and wellness services at the Marion County Health Fair March 21. The event, organized by the Marion County Health Department and the two local hospitals, St. Luke in Marion and Hills?boro Com?munity, was in the Hills?boro Elemen?tary School gym with more than 30 vendors.

Rollin Schmidt, who wore multiple hats with Marion County, notified commissioners he would resign, effective March 27. Schmidt was in charge of noxious weeds, household hazardous waste, the transfer station and county recycling.

April

This year?s local city and school election saw some surprises with voters casting their ballots for change. Tina Spen?cer, county election officer, said some write-in candidates prevailed over filed candidates. A total of 1,113 people voted in the election for a 14 percent turnout, she added.

The Casey Donahew Band agreed to headline the Saturday evening concert June 6 at Marion?s Chinga?wassa Days.

Bud Druse, former road and bridge foreman, was named by commissioners April 20 to succeed Rollin Schmidt as transfer station, recycling, noxious weed and household hazardous waste director.

About 47 people participated in the 11th annual Cleanup Day at Marion Reservoir April 25. A day earlier, a busload of 27 students and sponsors from Peabody-Burns High School planted 750 small cedar trees as a future windbreak for the newly developed campground addition at Cotton?wood Point.

May

With three positive cases of rabies reported in the county since March, the health department issued an alert May 2. The cases included a skunk and two calves, according to Diedre Serene, administrator.

The county food bank moved out of Valley United Methodist Church after occupying space for almost 30 years. The new name for food bank is Marion County Food Bank and Resource Center. It is located at 1220 Main St., Marion.

Two new racquetball courts, playground equipment and other improvements could be in East Park?s future with the Marion City Council?s decision to apply for grant funding.

June

The county-wide Families and Communities Together Inc. suffered a budget blow when the state announced FACT?s Early Child?hood Block Grant was cut in half. Ashlee Gann, executive director, said last year?s grant, administered by the Kansas Children?s Cabinet and Trust Fund, was $179,511, but in 2015 the award was $89,756.

County commissioners declared the county a flood disaster area, cooperating with 15 other counties that are joining to seek federal aid.

Organizers were pleased with the attendance at this year?s 19th annual Chinga?wassa Days in Marion. One committee member said nearly 2,000 spectators attended the Casey Donahew Band concert on Saturday.

The county road and bridge department admitted it was stretched to the limit. Director Randy Crawford said, ?You have to understand that we have 1,600 miles of roads to take care of. There are people who have to get to fields for wheat harvest starting in about two weeks.?

The Goessel community hosted and fed some 900 bicyclists with Biking Across Kansas June 10. BAK is an annual event occurring the first full week of June.

County com???missioners looked at plans for what could become an estimated $7 million project for additions and upgrades to the courthouse. The plans could include eliminating the current county extension office and construction of a two-story addition that would resemble the stonework of the current courthouse.

Construction began June 24 to build a new roundabout at the intersection of U.S. Highway 56, U.S. High?way 77 and Kansas Highway 150, east of Marion. The $5.416 million project was awarded to Cornejo & Sons of Wichita. Traffic was detoured through downtown Marion for the first few months.

July

Goessel Community Foundation awarded four grants, totaling $2,170, to support four community endeavors. USD 411 accepted a check for $200 for the school/community gardening project; Kinderhaus Preschool, accepted a check for $475 for student scholarships; the After-School Program accepted a check for $475; and Bethesda Home received a check for $1,020.

County commissioners agreed to call a public meeting for July 20 at the Marion County Lake Hall to hear about county roads. The commission took the action following weeks of meetings during which farm operators and homeowners asked for more action in repairing roads washed out by unusually heavy spring and summer rains. Commissioners were surprised by the turnout of more than 400 people.

August

Roundabout construction near Marion is progressing, but more than 2,500 vehicles are being detoured through the city?s Main Street?between 500 to 600 of those being trucks. City Admini?strator Roger Holter said he and USD 408 Superintendent Lee Leiker would put together a plan to protect the safety of students before school begins.

September

The professor killed at Delta State University in Mississippi Sept. 14 was identified as Peabody native Ethan A. Schmidt. Accord?ing to an online report, Schmidt was in his campus office when he was shot by a gunman at about 10:30 a.m.

Straight-line winds exceeding 70 mph on Labor Day evening caused damage estimated at $100,000 in Marion County. Buildings, roofs and trees were damaged in and around the Marion Reser?voir. Marion City Admini?strator Roger Holter said power was out from 7:12 p.m. to 10:33 p.m.

October

Road and Bridge Director Randy Crawford submitted his resignation, effective Friday, Oct. 9. He said he had accepted another job offer.

Marion County will receive a $1 million state grant to replace missing road signs. Road and Bridge Director Randy Crawford said more substantial road signs will be installed that will make it more difficult for thieves to steal them.

County commissioners met Oct. 12 with a room full of what chairman Dan Holub described as ?very tense? road and bridge road-grader operators. The nearly two-hour session ended with operators largely united in ways to keep improving the county?s road system.

In its 30th year, the Marion County Relay for Life event raised $20,542 Oct. 10, but money is still flowing in, organizers said. One organizer said this year?s theme, ?Back to Fighting For the Future,? had an overall goal of $35,000.

The Marion City Council, discussed its search for people interested in serving on the newly formed Parks and Recreation board, which combines the recreation, parks and cemetery boards under one umbrella.

Marion County Park and Lake opened its new 18-hole disc golf course, which is free to the public. Superin?ten?dent Steve Hudson said the idea for the course was first discussed a couple of years ago. He said no county tax money was used on the project.

The county commissioners fired Larry Lar?sen Oct. 26 from his duties with Marion County EMS and as assistant county coroner. Larsen said why he was fired remains a mystery.

Commissioners approved a $6,000 raise for elected officials except county commissioners, with ?reconsid?er??a??tion? in two years.

November

Terry Jones, Marion?s economic development director, resigned his position Nov. 4 in a letter to Mayor Todd Heitschmidt and City Administrator Roger Holter. In the letter, Jones stated he had accepted a job as community development director in McPherson with his last day in Marion Nov. 13.

Marion County Emer?gency Medical Service Director Brandy McCarty resigned from her job after three executive sessions totaling 35 minutes with the county commissioners. Commission Chair Dan Holub said he felt ?very obligated? to point out that a lot of people have wanted to blame McCarty for difficulties even when she has done a good job.

The Marion City Council welcomed Margo Yates as the director of the newly created Parks and Recrea?tion department. Yates previously served part time as secretary of the Chamber of Commerce and as USD 408?s recreation director.

Terry L. David, Rice County Emergency Medical Service director and Region III EMS Council coordinator, was appointed by commis?sioners to develop options for a long-term EMS program with a consulting fee of no more than $2,500.

Weather forecasters who had predicted an icing event during the Thanksgiving weekend did not disappoint. Freezing rain began falling Friday, covering everything outdoors with a slowly growing layer of ice, including trees and electrical power lines. The icing increased into Saturday, resulting in significant tree damage and sometimes bringing down power lines with them as branches broke under the weight. The temperature inched above freezing Monday, signaling the end of the siege?even though residents of the Tampa-Lincoln?ville area to the north, as well Peabody to the south, were still without electricity.

December

Marion County Toy Run organizers distributed checks totaling $13,000 to six community-based organizations that serve underprivileged children. In addition, more than 200 toys and 30 bicycles and tricycles were collected for distribution.

County commissioners named Ed Debesis interim EMS director for at least two days a week until a permanent director is hired. Debesis works for EMS in Hoisington.

The roundabout near Marion opened Dec. 23. It?s the only roundabout of its kind in the United States; Department of Trans?por??ta?tion officials will be watching to see how well the trial ?shoofly? achieves the purpose of accommodating trucks hauling ?super-sized? loads.