Marion seeking up to $250,000 through KDOT?s ?Safe Routes to School?

The City of Marion may receive notice of up to $250,000 in grant funding by January to encourage more children to walk to school, a consultant told the city council Monday.

David Johnson said that under Phase 1 of a companion grant for $15,000 already received, he discovered from a survey that only 10 percent of Marion children walk to school.

He said the Kansas Depart?ment of Transportation hopes to raise such percentages under its Safe Routes to Schools program to combat such issues as child obesity. Among other things, the grant might fund construction of new sidewalks on North Cedar and from Cedar to Lawrence.

Economic Development Director Jami Williams, who has worked with Johnson, said she also hopes for new sidewalks south of the school and south of Main Street. She hopes streets such as Roosevelt and Freeborn are included.

Mayor Mary Olson said the project is greatly needed. The council approved proceeding with the grant 5-0.

The council approved a petition to asphalt Country Club Heights with City Administrator David Mayfield to determine costs. The council also approved new asphalt for the street entering the cemetery, and circling buildings there at a cost of $15,243 to be done by contractors already in town.

The council authorized release of $100,000 to the school district for building the gymnasium/swimming pool project. Attorney Dan Baldwin said the council would need a resolution outlining a framework to work with the school by the end of the year.

The council approved selling Lot 12, less area for drainage, at the retail industrial park for $2,000 to Rick Miller. Baldwin said Miller plans to mow the lot until he needs it for business expansion.

Olson asked for a meeting later in the week to continue discussion of what items councilors might like to see included in the 2008 budget.

Mayfield asked them for a sense of certain items so that he could include them in budget preparations. Among those items, he wanted to know whether council wanted to give employees raises according to cost of living adjustment, by merit, or by another method.

Councilor Bill Holdeman said he thought raises should be keyed to lower-echelon hourly wage employees rather than to salaried employees.

Councilor Gene Winkler suggested raises might be tied to an effort to raise lower-scale employees to at least median wage or higher.

Councilor Jerry Kline said he thought both the cost of living allowance and merit should be raised to increase wages.

COLA raises were 3.3 percent for 2007 and 4.1 percent for 2006.

On other issues, the council recommended contributions of $1,000 for Community in Schools, $7,000 for the Chamber of Commerce, and $17,000 for the Rec Commission should stay the same.

Public Works Director Harvey Sanders said area electrical outages in the city Thursday and Friday were caused by aging fuses blowing in the summer heat.

Holdeman told Sanders he gets frequent inquiries from constituents wondering why Marion has a high incident of electrical failures.

Sanders said that fault lies partly with the city and partly with Westar Energy. Both entities are working at improvements, he said.

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