Pipeline project surfaces frequently on county agenda

It was a year for myriad events and issues for communities across Marion County, and for county government in particular.

A major oil pipeline project through the county accounted for many of the headlines involving county commissioners, but along the way tight budgets, a jail proposal and road maintenance surfaced from time to time.

January

A new youth center in Marion is expected to open in spring, thanks to the efforts of volunteers. A former auto repair shop at 1220 E. Main is being remodeled via the Marion Advancement Campaign.

County Attorney Susan Robson told commissioners she?d have a provisional contact prepared for them to approve, allowing TransCanada Keystone to build its oil-sand slurry pipeline through the county.

The city of Marion is looking to fill all five vacant seats on the Marion County Economic Development Council. The city has been without full representation for seven months.

The Marion County Fair Board said that without a generous outside benefactor, people shouldn?t expect to see a carnival at this year?s fair?or perhaps ever again. Liability insurance and high fuel prices have prompted carnivals to demand a local guarantee of $15,000, which is beyond the fair?s ability to fund.

Fire destroyed a house at 211 N. Prospect in Lehigh Jan. 22. The owners, Rick and Gina Mounts, expressed gratitude for having escaped with their lives.

February

Citing a desire to avoid staff layoffs, county commissioners indicated that two more of its departments will share support staff in the near future. The departments cited were the Department on Aging and the noxious weed office.

County commissioners raised multiple roadblocks to the formation of a new extension district with Dickinson County that would share agriculture and family agents via Kansas State Extension.

County commissioners approved the pipeline contract with TransCanada Keystone. It includes a $2 million performance bond to guarantee repair of damage to roads during construction.

A Feb. 12 fire destroyed the iconic house in Burns known to locals as the ?Barker House? and the ?Antebellum House.? The house is currently owned by Les and Rhonda Loucks, who safely escaped the blaze along with their children.

Fire destroyed a two-story home at 201 S. Prospect in Lehigh early Tuesday morning, Feb. 23. But the owners, Vance and Chelsea Hill, their three children and family pets all escaped unharmed.

Road and Bridge Supervisor Jim Herzet reported to county commissioners that Trans?Canada Keystone Pipeline had seven to nine rail cars to be unloaded at Florence. Herzet said the company had begun the process of transporting the pipe to its pipeyard at 290th and Quail Creek Road.

March

County commissioners met with department heads to develop regulations for a resolution that would allow residents to tear down old buildings and dispose of them through the county transfer center for as little as a $50 inspection fee.

Almost 50 fathers and grandfathers, along with their child?ren, attended a ?Daddy Olympics? Saturday at the Marion Sports Complex and Aquatic Center. The event was a coordinated effort between Marion Head Start and Parents as Teachers, using grant money from the Kansas Health Founda?tion.

A special meeting of the Marion City Council was called to initiate an investigation into allegations of criminal misconduct by Marion Mayor Mary Olson. The allegation concerns K.S.A. 21-4005, which addresses ?maliciously circulating false rumors? about a local business ?with intent to injure? its ?financial standing or reputation.?

County commis?sioners discussed funding options to fix four miles of road going from Tampa west to Kansas Highway 15.

The financial burden of the county?s revitalization plan for tax abatement hit home with county commis?sioners with the realization that the new hospital facility proposed for Hillsboro most likely will come under the county?s plan rather than Hillsboro?s.

Prompted by a letter of opposition from the airport authority, a motion to close the airport for two days in order to host a Heart of America Free Flight Associ?a?tion competition for a second year, failed for lack of a second.

Candidates vying in two contested city races in Marion answered a range of questions during a candidate forum March 12 at the Marion Senior Center. Three candidates?Dick Varenhorst, Jerry Kline and Chris Meierhoff?are seeking two open seats on the council, while Council member Steve Smith is challenging incumbent Mary Olson in the mayor?s race.

County commissioners expressed concerned because County Clerk Carol Maggard reported sales tax receipts now down $16,000 for the year.

April

County commissioners directed County Clerk Carol Maggard to prepare a final draft of a letter to Kansas legislators they feel let down Marion County by granting a 10-year property exemption to Trans?Canada Keystone. Much of their anger is directed at the county?s two state senators, Jay Scott Emler of Lindsborg and Jim Barnett of Emporia.

Mayor Mary Olson told Marion City Council members that she was all but exonerated from any wrongdoing following a meeting earlier that morning with a representative from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

Volunteers are still needed to help Army Sgt. Ryan Newell and his family build their home in the city of Marion. The project, sponsored by Homes for Our Troops, is set to begin April 16. Newell was severely injured while serving in Afghanistan.

A Marion City Council race that was too close to call during the initial ballot tally ended with Jerry Kline defeating Dick Varenhorst by three votes. Seven provisional ballots, all with votes for Kline, sealed his victory after county commissioners canvassed votes prior to their regular meeting. In the Marion mayor?s race, incumbent Mary Olson received 228 votes to 197 for Steve Smith, who was vying for the position.

Volunteers completed Phase 1 of the Ryan Newell house project April 16-18. With ?Build Brigade? successfully completed, the second phase of the project will be the mechanical phase.

The Marion City Council accepted the resignation of City Clerk Angela Lange.

Members of the Marion County Economic Development Council bylaws committee got word to county commissioners that they want a member of the council to be elected as chair rather than have the county economic director serve in that role.

The annual Florence Spring Fling raised between $1,500 and $2,000. More than 75 children took part in the games provided by the Florence Labor Day Committee.

Goessel City Council recognized City Clerk Anita Goertzen for her 20 years of service

May

Michael F. Powers, chief judge of the 8th Judicial District from Marion, sat with the Kansas Supreme Court to hear appeals in five matters on the Court?s docket. The Supreme Court appointed Powers to join them in place of Chief Justice Robert E. Davis, who is on medical leave.

County commissioners voted to accept what Commissioner Dan Holub called ?a pretty awesome offer? from a Mount Vernon, Mo., company called Blevins Asphalt that did hard surfacing of county roads last year. The offer amounts to a $275,000 credit to the county.

Bob Hein, 72, Hillsboro, has an estimated six to eight weeks left before he can return to duties as Marion County commissioner and a salesman at Midway Motors after undergoing a second surgery for a blood clot on his brain.

A political rift in Ramona became front-page news in a regional newspaper after word spread that some residents had filed a petition to recall Mayor Pat Wick. An extensive story on the issue appeared on the front page of the Salina Journal.

Marion City Council voted unanimously to hire Alan Meisinger of Marion as its new city clerk. Meisinger, a certified public accountant, currently is employed in McPherson.

Margaret Cook and Willard Hett, trustees of the Pearl Baxter Estate, presented the Marion City Council with two checks totaling $30,000. The estate bequeathed $5,000 to the Marion City Library and $25,000 to the Marion City Museum.

Senior adults in Marion County learned about ways to maintain or improve their health by participating in a morning ?Wellness for Life? seminar May 26 at Eastmoor United Methodist Church in Marion. The free event was sponsored by the Marion County Department on Aging.

More from Hillsboro Free Press
USD 419 Fall 2020 Sports
The Canton-Calva Eagles have had cheerleaders for a long time and their...
Read More