Marion County roads are in dire shape, force action by commission

The majority of Marion County’s township roads are in dire need of maintenance, according to farmers, commissioners and current and former supervisors. One example is the road pictured, which is supposed to be a “rock road” but has no rock, leaving it slippery, sludgy and nearly impossible to maneuver without a four-wheel drive vehicle when it rains, snows and then thaws out. The road is on Falcon, near 160th in the southwest corner of the county. Courtesy Photo
The majority of Marion County’s township roads are in dire need of maintenance, according to farmers, commissioners and current and former supervisors. One example is the road pictured, which is supposed to be a “rock road” but has no rock, leaving it slippery, sludgy and nearly impossible to maneuver without a four-wheel drive vehicle when it rains, snows and then thaws out. The road is on Falcon, near 160th in the southwest corner of the county. Courtesy Photo

Marion County township roads are in crisis—and have been for many years—but in recent months, frustrated producers are either paying property taxes under protest or turning to another department to be heard.

But, whatever the combination of actions by land­owners has been, the Marion County commissioners are listening, and in doing so, approved advertising for the hiring of a county engineer at the Jan. 22 meeting.

Not many details were made available at Monday’s meeting, but the vote was unanimous to begin the search.

In early January, Lisa Reeder, county appraiser, informed commissioners that about 40 landowners either wanted adjustments on their taxes or wanted her to see firsthand what their frustration is all about.

“[The landowner] did have a couple of suggestions,” Reeder said. “One is to request landowners or renters to help by mowing ditches.”

The reasoning for this was that it would free up time for county employees to work on road improvement, she said.

The other suggestion was to better train the road graders and increase their salaries accordingly.

“He said he also feels that the [road and bridge] department may be short staffed for the projects that are needed.

Restoration Center

As way of introduction, Carl Taylor, chief executive officer, and Joy Waldbauer, licensed clinical social worker, both with Restoration Center Inc., talked about the treatment program in Marion County.

The facility is at 125 E. Main St., Marion, and is accessible to anyone in need of treatment, said Waldbauer.

Taylor, who is in Junction City, said the Marion center offers drug and alcohol assessments, evaluations and treatment, along with mental health evaluations.

“We are a safe zone,” he said, “and can talk about issues a person has and restore commitments to their family, workplace and in other areas.”

The Marion location is an outpatient facility, said Waldbauer, and is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Taylor said the center helps those with drug and alcohol issues to work through their problems, and helps them with goal-setting.

Taylor said the reason for introducing themselves to the commission was in letting them know their mission and to include the center when the time comes to review funding.

Commission Chairman Kent Becker said the county does see the importance of drug and alcohol programs and the need for them.

For more information about the program, call 785-223-2094 or in Junction City, 785-762-4470.

Poor Farm

Nancy Marr spoke with commissioners about the Marion County Poor Farm being used as one tool for economic development.

She reviewed the historical background of the three-story limestone structure built in the late 1880; the farm is about seven miles southwest of Marion.

Prior to Marr and her husband buying the old mansion for use as their home, she said it changed hands many times.

“We bought it in 1973, and for years we had hundreds and hundreds of visitors.”

At one point, she said, there was a lot of vandalism, and the sheriff at that time suggested she move to a more suitable place.

Among the many items she brought to the commission, she said she ran across a letter dated Sept. 8, 2014, from a photographer who she said was a fan.

“I think the [farm] can be used for economic development along with places like the Chisholm Trail, Santa Fe Trail, the Adobe Museum and Florence Museum,” she said.

The commission in other business:

◼ provided Robert Harris, Florence Historical Society, with information about preparing a quit claim deed for the land at the Florence Museum. Marion City Administrator Roger Holter administers the Marion Land Bank and would help in deeding the property to the land bank.

◼ heard from Jeannine Bateman, county treasurer, about the policy for taxpayers who pay taxes late.

◼ approved Sheriff Rob Craft’s request for two more full-time people. Craft said one is going to be on military leave for the next seven to eight months and the other will be in school to become a certified officer.

“We don’t want to diminish our services,” he said, “and we are scrambling to meet services.”