County closer to naming new health department director



After several executive sessions at Monday’s Marion County Board of Commissioners meeting, the board voted to make an offer to a candidate for the Marion County Health Department Director. No name was given as it will not be public knowledge until a candidate accepts the position. Filling the role has been a high priority for the board since former Director Diedre Serene ended her time in the position in September.

Another item on the agenda that the board has been working on is a policy regarding public comments.

“What I don’t like to see is exactly what Tina had to put up with today is just a name and not the concern. I think the public needs to know when we have an agenda what the concern is. That’s not just right for someone to pop in and talk about anything. That also applies to commissioners,” said Chairman Randy Dallke.

County Attorney Brad Jantz agreed and said many municipalities have something in place because of the problems that not having something can create.

“Sometimes the public doesn’t necessarily know when they have crossed a certain boundary so they come in and start the conversation and then we get a little too far into it and we have to stop it. That gives the wrong impression, too, like we are censoring someone,” said Jantz.

Jantz also distinguished between public comment and a public forum such as being on the agenda with a citizen concern. He emphasized that the board meetings are for business and not a town hall meeting where anyone can just say anything.

“The comments should be short and to the point,” said Commissioner David Mueller.

“Right, it’s really a point of reference for something someone wants the commission to know about at the time. For example if someone has a road incident recently and they want the commission to know that this is going on right now versus talking more generally about bigger and more broad issues,” said Jantz.

Several commissioners expressed more concern over having parameters for a citizen being placed on the agenda versus general public comments. They expressed a need to know what they are facing.

“We need to have at least a topic so we aren’t blindsided,” said Mueller.

Jantz clarified further why having a topic would be helpful.

“For those being put on the agenda, if it’s something you know about beforehand, you can do some research and have some knowledge at the meeting instead of having to take another week to learn more and come back to it,” he said.

The board voted to allow County Clerk Tina Spencer to ask for a specific topic for public comments before adding them to the agenda.They will continue to work on the policy and finalize it soon.

County Engineer Brice Goebel went over fuel bids with the board pointing out that they have saved a bit on fuel due to a shortage in drivers. He said he is ready to have enough drivers though. The board approved Epp for the bid.

Goebel gave numerous updates on road and bridge projects he is working on as well as ones that still need to be started.

The board discussed that there is a bond meeting coming up to decide funds for projects and they need to be prepared in order to benefit the most from it.

“What roads do we want to have the highest priority for getting fixed?” asked Commissioner Jonah Gehring.

“Can the commission give you direction to come up with a packet for us to help get things ready?” asked Commissioner Dave Mueller.

“Yes, I can do that. We can come up the most pressing projects,” said Goebel. “The only thing that would cause a problem is, well, we just need to make sure we are very, very specific about where it would start and stop when it comes to projects goals.

Goebel explained that it’s a good time now and in December to be working on the pouring of bridges because of the cooler weather.

In other news, the board:

n discussed closing dates for the County for the upcoming holidays.

n heard from Director Josh Housman that his department will be hosting a district noxious weed meeting this week where they will be serving chili and cinnamon roles. The board approved the white transfer station getting two new tires.

n met in executive session with Housman in order to discuss non-elected personnel.

n met in executive session for a legal matters pertaining possible litigation.

n heard a citizen concern from Dianne Novak regarding election fraud and the belief that the machines the county uses can be hacked and have other validity concerns particularly related to the 2020 elections. Novak lost in 2020 to Dave Mueller for the District #2 Commissioner position.

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