Letters (Dec. 18, 2013)

Blood drive drew 54 brave donors

Thank-you everyone who participated at the Red Cross blood drive Dec. 9 at Park?view Church. It was a very cold day, but you responded to the need that is always great?54 donors came.

We encourage others who0 haven?t been regular donors, or who have never given, to consider coming to the next drive at 9 a.m. to w p.m. Feb. 24 at the high school.

Thank-you again to the donors and others who volunteered to help make the drive a success.

Gladys Funk, Shirley Kasper

Blood drive co-chairs


County needs a new direction

Does anyone else sense the elephant in the room? For the past few months we?ve heard school officials sound the alarm about the impending decrease in school financing due to drop in enrollment.

Officials are shocked at the sudden loss of students and the impact it has on the school district. It?s even worse than first reported.

School officials are taking measures to cut staffing. They sound urgent, suggesting that our leaders should do something to attract new families to the district.

The dwindling student population should come as no surprise. The financial problems facing the district aren?t about education at all. The real problem is the economic condition of the county?the lack of jobs and high taxes. It?s driving people out of Marion County.

With no jobs and higher taxes families leave. Fewer people mean businesses begin to close, services wane and real estate values plummet. Sound familiar?

Marion County is the rural version of Detroit. Ten years ago, the leadership in Marion County knew something needed to be done about the big things. The big things include better schools, a regional hospital, housing and jobs?all the things that attract families to an area and keep them here.

Imagine if we had dropped the pretense between Hillsboro and Marion and built a hospital on the highway by the reservoir?and a business park, and a school, and a water park. These are all good concepts that could have been pursued on a regional scale.

When we finally picked a project to work on together, we exhausted our collective energy on a jail that has not served the plan. Now we?re stuck with the ongoing costs that will be another millstone around the necks of Marion County taxpayers. How appropriate.

Then, as now, our leaders lacked the big picture, and over the years our valued lifestyle has frittered away.

Part of the problem is the deep-seated isolation within our communities. Com?munity leaders compete instead of working together, so our tax dollars don?t go as far for the big things we could all benefit from.

County leadership hasn?t been much help. The missed directions is costing us our lifestyle and prosperity and now the taxes continue to roll up the backs of fewer taxpayers.

Our communities used to be considered the best places to raise a family and retire, but now we are all faced with higher-than-elsewhere costs. They?re called fees by administrators who try to disguise taxes.

The evidence was recently side noted in newspaper articles about the Hillsboro City Council meeting. It seems the city needed to raise already high utility rates again. Implementing the utility rate increases costs residents about 20 percent more per month. The hardest hit will be those on fixed incomes.

And, at the county level, while commissioners voted to continue Emergency Medical Dispatch, it was reported that Commissioner Dallke said he had hoped to cut 2 mills in the budget but instead, the budget had actually increased by 3 mills.

At the very least, Dallke?s comments should raised eyebrows. But the reality of those comments pointed squarely to the county commission?s lack of fundamental understanding of what drives a local economy.

Surprisingly, Dallke?s comments were not challenged by the other commissioners. At this point the commission may as well hang out a sign that says, ?Our plans haven?t worked, we have no idea what were doing, and we don?t know what to do next, except raise your taxes.?

There used to be a saying: Everything is cheaper in the country. Nothing could be further from the truth in Marion County. The school district numbers merely point out that nobody can afford to raise a family here anymore, let alone retire.

And for those of us who stay, every dollar invested in this county is worth nothing in return. In this economic environment, real estate prices are rock bottom, yet nothing sells. Check out the listings of homes and auctions. Compare our real estate prices and availability to McPherson or Butler County.

In some cases, property valuations in Marion County are so out-of-whack, people simply turn their homes back to the bank and move on. No jobs and high taxes have left us gasping and sputtering economically. It?s a death spiral in our rural communities that could have been avoided.

Changing our situation requires leaders with vision. Sometimes the vision is a radical departure from the status quo. We needed better solutions years ago and we need them now. We need people from throughout the county coming together to implement radically different solutions.

Some of these ideas could become shared vision, but we need leaders who get it. We need people who recognize there?s a better path with better options than the one we?re on.

Stan Thiessen


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