Letter to the Editor (6-13-18)

County needs jobs more than roads

Any hopes of addressing the deeper, real issues facing the Marion County economy were dashed when the Marion County Board of Commissioners defined the condition of roads as of No. 1 importance in the county.

The Marion County commission continues to be another tragic failure in Kansas county governance. To be sure, potholes and the need for more gravel are economic indicators as they represent the larger, more pressing issues.

For years, the Marion County commission has led us around their pothole kingdom instead of leading the county and our communities in positive business and job growth.

It was known years ago, and there was never any doubt, that Marion County needed expert guidance in development matters. Instead of hiring a professional at the time the commission ineffectualized the position based on what was considered affordable.

Even when the group of self-styled prosperity activists stepped forward to form a countywide development board and reach the same conclusions, the pothole potentates at the commission managed to marginalize the effort with contention and confusion.

The commission’s failures to launch effective leadership in countywide development further frustrates prospects of eventually participating when help becomes available. It’s as if the commissioners are saying: Hurry up, fix this economic mess we’ve created so we can get on with filling potholes and shoveling gravel, our No. 1 priority.

Marion County is not the only commission statewide that can’t seem to embrace its role in economic development but as one of the largest counties in Kansas, it’s difficult to ignore the effect it has had.

The focus on potholes and gravel prevails while the commission never seems to realize what the comparative benefits a few jobs would have to our economy. In the long run, bad roads would not be an issue.

Consider the comparisons. According to the commission, a mile of gravel cost $15,000. Economic growth and jobs are booming on at least two of our fence lines and 15,000 cars pass right through the middle of Marion County every day without stopping.

As we continue to roam aimlessly about, it remains to be seen if commissioners will recognize that there is only one priority for the Marion County commission. It is to provide economic growth and jobs for the prosperity of Marion County. All else is a just another pothole to fill or some missing gravel to replace.

Stan Thiessen

Hillsboro