County discusses improving remote access


The Marion County Board of Commissioners met on Monday, March 21 for their regular weekly meeting. Commissioner Jonah Gehring discussed options for better audio and visual in the commission room. There have been many complaints from people listening in remotely about the sound.

Gehring suggested improvements including a video feed that would be available for those who wanted to watch out in the hall. He also mentioned new lighting in the room since they are already working on updating audio and video.

“We could do two traveling cameras to hit public and commissioners so that Tina (County Clerk Tina Spencer) doesn’t have to keep moving them. The cameras would be able to move to follow sound to allow the public who are watching the video to see who is speaking,” said Gehring.

He explained that hooks and other equipment would be included so that wires wouldn’t be hanging everywhere which would make it safer and also allow easier access for maintenance workers if they need to do repairs.

Gehring also said that there were multiple camera options as well as different mic options. And there are options if they need to do some of it initially and then add on later.

Spencer suggested multiple HMDI connectors in case guests want to present and need hookups.

Dallke asked about the current control system and Gehring explained that the whole system will be updated and simplified. The microphones would all be wireless and the quality would greatly improve.

Gehring explained that the mics and the cameras will work together to focus on who is speaking which will really help those who are watching online be able to identify the speakers.

He said, “It’s really just to make it more friendly both inside the room and out.”

The board all agreed that the ideas sounded good and decided to proceed with getting some bids on the work.

Memorial bench

Karen Konarik spoke with the board about getting a memorial bench for Sheriff Rob Craft who died on Feb. 16.

“We wanted to put up a bench that would say ‘In loving memory of Sheriff Robert Craft’. The bench would be by the jail either in front or in between the two glass doors,” said Konarik.

“I really think that since it is in the city limits, but it’s county property, we probably just need to make sure there are no zoning laws. But there probably isn’t an issue with it. I think you would just need to approve it,” said County Clerk Tina Spencer.

Commissioner Dave Crofoot pointed out that there are other benches around the city so the city wouldn’t have a problem with it.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said that there have been other “fine folk” who have been through the department in the past and are still there and they needed to think about that. He said he could see plaques maybe but questioned the bench concept.

“I’ve seen in Peabody Park people put things in because of their son, their daughter. I’m not exceptionally—if somebody that wasn’t for Rob Craft—somebody else come in…I think we just gotta question what we are doing,” said Dallke.

The rest of the group and Konarik continued to speak about how the bench was a way to honor the deceased sheriff. Konarik plans to raise the funds through donations. She will check with the City of Marion’s planning and zoning to make sure that there are no issues for the bench to be located at the jail.

Becker made the motion to approve the bench and Crofoot seconded. All but Dallke voted in favor.

Comments were made throughout the room about the Sheriff and all that he did for the county.

“Very nice notion. Very fitting,” said Chairman Dave Mueller.

EMS Director Travis Parmley met with the board to give his department report and brought in ambulance write-offs for approval. There are $9,634.74 in uncollected fees from April 25, 2020, to Feb. 19, 2021, for various reasons from patients not having insurance, patients being deceased, patients not responding to billings, two-year statute of collecting expired and more. The board approved the write-offs.

EMS update

Dallke asked Parmley about where EMS chooses to take patients.

Parmley explained that EMS is encouraged to take patients to the closest most appropriate facility.

Dallke gave an example of how his wife wanted to go to the facility where she always receives care but it wasn’t the closest one.

“We always want to listen to the patient and do what they want, but insurance often won’t cover miles that are further than what was the closest facility. I always tell patients that because they need to know that their insurance may not pay,” said Parmley.

The next meeting will be Monday, March 28.

In other business, the board:

n listened to a Register of Deeds department update from Rebecca Wingfield.

n heard a department update from Weed/HHW/Transfer Station/Recycle Director Josh Housman. Housman and the board discussed bids for tires for the transfer station bobcat. The board voted to go with Rod’s Tires.

n received a presentation from Don Brown of Reno Dry regarding renovations on the courthouse. No action was taken.

n heard road updates from County Engineer Brice Goebel. Goebel informed the board that he is getting rid of a few bulldozers and pick-ups through Purple Wave tomorrow.

n learned that County Attorney Brad Jantz had completed a letter regarding a resolution for regulating private maintenance or interference on public/county roads. Jantz pointed out that the letter mainly serves to offer information rather than to be punitive. The purpose is to let residents know the risk involved when they attempt to take on projects that are meant to be handled by the county and not by property owners. Mueller brought up hounding and harassing of county employees by property owners and asked if this resolution would help limit some of that since it has become a lot in some situations. Jantz said that it should.

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