Residents express frustrations about roads

Marion County 4H groups came and presented gifts they made to the Marion County Board of Commissioners in appreciation for the board’s support.

The Marion County Board of Commissioners meeting began with some public comments and complaints about the roads.

One resident, Jerry Mendoza, of Marion, mentioned his frustration with the lack of communication. He stated that in late July he went to go home to his residence on 140th and came up on the road blocked off and he had no idea that anything was happening.

“With residents not knowing what is going on and they see the road is gone, then their first assumption is ‘I’m gonna get a dirt road’,” said Mendoza.

There was mention of a Facebook post made to notify the public, but Mendoza asked that more be done to notify residents since that was not efficient. The road and bridge department said that they would try to do better in the future.

Mendoza expressed concerns with the state of his road now wondering if it will be converted into just dirt, gravel or back to a paved road because he has teen drivers and his family is not prepared to be driving on that road once inclement weather sets in. Mendoza and his neighbors also mentioned how soft the road is currently which makes it difficult to navigate. County Engineer Brice Goebel said that the plan is to work on the road and get the base smoothed out before doing a double chip seal again.

Some board members for Hillsboro Community Child Care (H4C) met with the board to explain about the plans to build a child care center for Marion County. Tristen Cope, K-State Research & Extension Chisholm District, Erin Hein, Safe Kids Coordinator and Matt Stiles, Hillsboro City Administrator gave an update on the center.

The plan is to renovate and use the former Trinity Mennonite Church located in Hillsboro to create a facility that will provide around 99 spots for children in need of daycare. Trinity Mennonite Church has voted to dissolve their church and offered their building to H4C for the facility. The building will continue to be used for CORE, Everence, Salvation Army and other agencies.

The non-profit group was developed out of the need for better child care options for families in Marion County. They explained to the board that their vision is to establish an early learning center that provides children and families developmentally appropriate learning experiences needed for their future. And their mission is to provide a safe, affordable and welcoming early learning environment that fosters children to develop socially, physically, emotionally and cognitively to build the best foundation for future leaders.

The group has been working hard and has already gotten quite a bit accomplished, from establishing a board of directors to attending trainings, getting established as a 501 (c) (3) and more. They are now working on raising at least $125,000 in order to qualify for a matching grant, but they hope to raise the full $600,000 so that the amount can be fully matched.

The group did not ask for money at this time. They wanted to let the board know what is in progress and how big of a need this is. The group shared that according to data gathered by ChildCare Aware, out of 11,865 residents in Marion County, there are 658 under the age of 6, and 507 of those children have both parents in the work force. Marion County is currently only able to provide care for 32 percent of those children so the need for more childcare is huge.

In other business, the board:

n received gift baskets from the four 4H groups of the county. The baskets were full of items members of the groups had made and were presented by members of each group.

n County Attorney Joel Ensey spoke with the board about getting new software to make prosecuting responsibilities more updated and efficient. The software will allow Ensey’s office to work more closely with sheriff’s departments in getting case information transferred. The board approved it and agreed to pay for half of the software for a total of $16,000. Ensey’s department will pay the other half next year.

n met in executive session to review applications for the Emergency Management Position. No action was taken.

n heard from Goebel that fuel bids are going down. Goebel also gave Road & Bridge updates.

n learned about a new computer program available for tracking road and bridge projects. The program should help the department run more smoothly and efficiently as it would track complaints more thoroughly, pinpoint exact locations of issues and track work being done. The board approved purchasing the program.

n met in executive session to discuss personnel matters. No action was taken.

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