Covington concert could draw 5,000

The Hillsboro City Council was briefed at its May 19 meeting on logistic challenges anticipated for an unprecedented three-night concert series during this year?s Marion County Fair.

The fair board, in partnership with the Marion County Fire Chiefs Association, is bringing in three country-music attractions during this year?s fair, which runs July 29 to Aug. 1.

The two entities see the concert series as a way to build up attendance at the fair while raising money for a training center for county fire-department volunteers, according to Ben Steketee, chairman of the MCFCA.

The three artists coming to perform are KeBo Cyrus, who will be the opening act all three nights, plus T. Graham Brown and Bucky Covington.

Covington, who came to national attention as a contestant on the 2005-06 season of ?American Idol,? is perceived to be the biggest attraction, with sufficient parking required to host an estimated 5,000 people when he performs Friday evening.

Steketee said the current plan is to have the concerts on the Hillsboro Municipal Golf Course driving range, using the elevated hitting area as the stage and seating the people directly to the south.

Steketee said he plans to notify residents door-to-door in the adjacent Carriage Hills development of the concerts so there will be ?no surprises.?

Tickets for the concerts will be sold through a Web site (marioncountyfirechiefs.com), at three locations in the county yet to be named, and at the gate.

Birthday plan

Diane Claassen informed the council of efforts to solicit gifts for the city of Hillsboro to mark its 125th birthday next month. The idea of the planning committee is that residents volunteer their time to work on city-improvement projects.

She distributed a list of potential projects that has been compiled in conversation with city department heads. The list will be distributed in the community and residents can sign up to help with a project under the direction of the appropriate department head.

The sign-up deadline is June 25, she said, in time for the city-wide birthday celebration planned for June 26.

She said the extended celebration time, June 25 to July 3, will include an ice cream social on Main Street sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, a beard contest, a recognition program for past and present mayors, and the burial of a time capsule.

Other business

In other business, the council:

n heard former city employee Jay Klassen ask why he wasn?t rehired for mowing duties this summer after working for the city the two previous summers. He suggested it might be because of a personality difference with another city employee.

The council met in executive session for 10 minutes to discuss the issue, then in public session invited Klassen to follow protocol and arrange a meeting with City Administra?tor Larry Paine, and possibly the city employee in question, to address the grievance.

?Our policy is that he is the man in charge of personnel,? Mayor Delores Dalke said.

n heard from Dalke that Marion Reservoir has been approved for federal funding of around $6 million for improvement projects, including testing the siltation rate of the lake that could threaten the availability of water for the cities Hills?boro, Marion and Peabody.

n heard Paine say he is researching the feasibility of adding a citywide ?Code Red? telephone dialing system. Among other things, it would enable the city to inform households within ?a very short time? of impending emergencies?such as an approaching tornado?or other matters of citywide importance.

n approved wording changes to the city?s Neighborhood Revitalization Program application process in conversation with Cindy McGill, county appraiser. One change will be the addition of a $25 application fee, which is similar to the fee associated with the county?s program.

n approved a lease-purchase agreement through Marion National Bank to purchase a used sewer/vac truck from Sellers Equipment of Salina for a total of $34,000. Requests for funding proposals generated four responses, including MNB, Central National Bank, Baystone Financial of Manhattan and Sellers Equipment. MNB offered the lowest interest rate of 4.255 percent over three years.

n approved Ordinance 1177 to annex a small strip of land that the city recently purchased near the old sewer plant to accommodate the new sewer system.

n approved routine change orders for the sewer-lagoon project total $9,885.

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