Marion council hears of project damage

Minor damage to Marion?s city auditorium, along with an update on the Free Flight of America event, were some issues discussed at the Nov. 15 Marion City Council meeting.

Todd Heitschmidt, representing Marion Advancement Campaign, the non-profit group spearheading the auditorium project, said things are moving along.

?I think we are a little ahead of schedule,? he said. ?The carpet has started being installed, but we did have our first snafu (last weekend).?

According to Heitschmidt, the city hall basement was rented Saturday night and one or more persons went into the nearly restored auditorium, an area that is currently off limits to the public.

?The basement was rented out, but at this point we cannot lock off the auditorium,? he said. ?The problem is the basement entrances have no gates or doors, but we will be looking at that.?

Heit?schmidt said he hadn?t talked with Gene Winkler, project supervisor, but that the damage included broken furnace grills and footprints on the stage floor, even though a sign clearly stated to stay off the surface.

?Luckily, the paint was dry,? he said.

A major concern, according to Heitschmidt, was that even though the city did not rent the auditorium space, some individuals chose to go there anyway.

He said a lot of money and time has been invested into revitalizing the auditorium and what happened was ?disappointing.?

As for the people who caused damage, Heitschmidt said they will be billed accordingly for their actions.

?This will be put into our agreement,? he said, ?and we will address this again.?

Heitschmidt also wanted to let council members know MAC is planning an open house.

?We will be back with the council to address operating procedures (for the auditorium), and hopefully in about two to four weeks, have a Christmas-type open house.?

Free Flight of America

Jeanice Thomas, Free Flight of America supporter and event volunteer in Marion, asked the council to approve Oct. 1 and 2 for the 2011 competition.

Thomas said she and Mike Basta, Free Flight organizer, both believe keeping the same dates as this year and same airport location would work well on the group?s schedule.

?The reason for this request,? she said, ?is so that (Free Flight participants) can look through all the events and competitions and make travel arrangements.?

Basta told Thomas that Free Flight members will sit down after the first of the year and decide which locations they will attend.

?Members will look at newsletters, Internet sites and magazines and we would appreciate it if (the council) could pass a resolution,? Thomas said.

Thomas said she, Basta, Doug Kjellin, economic development director, and Dick McLinden, Marion Municipal Airport board member, would be meeting again after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Mayor Mary Olson said if the dates are agreeable with everyone at that meeting, they should bring the issue back to the council for a final vote.

Garden tour

Thomas also gave an update on next year?s garden tour and the idea of coordinating it with the 150th celebration of the city.

?(Tour organizers) started planning for the 2011 event two days after the last one,? she said.

Other business

In other business, the council:

? heard from Greg Carlson, who is overseeing the downtown flag acquisition project. He told the council he and wife Linda went door-to-door asking for contributions. He also wanted to thank city crews for taking care of the pole holders.

? reappointed Leonard Klassen and Ralph Kreutziger to another four-year term on the city?s housing authority board based on Olson?s recommendation.

? proclaimed Nov. 14-20 as American Education Week and urged citizens to support education and local schools. The council also approved a proclamation for National Family Week, Nov. 21-27.

? authorized changes on signature cards at Central National Bank to include Marty Grill, the new city clerk.

? was given a report by Marty Fredrickson, who is overseeing sewer-pond sludge cleanup. He said he had taken soil samples in a targeted field. Once results are back, the city will have a better idea of the rate and bids for the project.

? heard from Kjellin about an all-day conference he attended on the topic of bringing rural products directly to retail markets.

? went into executive session for 15 minutes to talk about personnel. No action was taken.

The next council meeting will be at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 29 in council chambers at 230 Santa Fe, Marion.

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