• Last modified 386 days ago (May 25, 2023)


Charity’s pitch fails to score

Staff writer

County commissioners were noncommittal Monday when Marion County Core Community asked for a $50,000 contribution to help pay for its anti-poverty programs.

Director Tracy Lowe said private contributions had been hurt by fundraising for other projects, including child care in Hillsboro and Florence and Sunflower Theatre renovation in Peabody.

“We don’t begrudge that. We need those,” Lowe said. “But a lot of other fund drives are taking money away.”

Lowe and volunteer Dawn Mackey presented information suggesting that it cost between $22,000 and $55,000 per person to get someone out of poverty.

“Most of our poverty in Marion County is generational poverty rather than situational poverty,” Lowe said, meaning people are born into poverty rather than fall into it because of misfortune.

Commissioners questioned why Core Communities classes were conducted only in Hillsboro.

They were assured that residents countywide were being served and that a five-year plan called for classes being conducted elsewhere, as well.

“Other county commissions have given $10,000 to $50,000,” Lowe said.

After several pregnant pauses, commission chairman David Mueller said only: “Our budget process is coming up, and we will give it consideration.”

Health department

In other matters Monday, commissioners were urged to initially request only a conceptual plan, not full architectural drawings, for a proposed health department office at the former Marion County Food Bank location at 1220 E. Main St. in Marion.

The county still has not closed its purchase of the site for $1 from Marion Advacement Campaign. It’s waiting on a land survey to be performed probably next week.

The next step, county clerk Tina Spencer told commissioners, would be seeking a conditional use permit from the City of Marion.

“It’s going to be difficult to do that application without a basic drawing,” she said. “You hate to pay someone a large amount to pay for an architectural drawing but not know whether it will be approved with zoning. We’ll be on hold until we know the design.”

When one commissioner suggested that he and his colleagues “have to come together on a concept” before drafting full plans, commissioner Kent Becker said, “I kind of thought that’s what we were going to get.”

Other matters

In other business Monday:

  • Waste and weed director Josh Housman told commissioners he would investigate alternatives after being told that the county no longer could accept oil-based hazardous waste from businesses because it is authorized to accept only household waste.
  • Lloyd Davies of Great Plains Computers and Networking told commissioners his firm hadn’t raised its rates in 13 years but would be increasing its hourly fee for information technology support.

He and commissioners will consider shifting from billing per incident per department to an overall support contract. Davies also will provide cost estimates for upgrading servers that he said would become obsolete by 2025 and now are so loaded that backups of county data must be done piecemeal.

  • Lighted stop signs will be tried at what county engineer Brice Goebel said was the county’s most dangerous intersection, 190th and Nighthawk Rds. Work on 190th is proceeding well, he said, and is likely to be completed well before its anticipated completion date in October.

Commissioners met behind closed doors nines different times, excluding the public from discussions that they said dealt with potential litigation, Internet security, five personnel matters, and two updates about contract negotiations.

Although legal justification for excluding the public was offered each time, in only one case was a clear statement of the topic to be discussed disclosed. State law requires topics to be disclosed, according to the state attorney general’s office.

In the case in which a topic was disclosed, commissioners emerged to vote in favor of a family emergency leave for an employee, but carefully never named the employee.

In the other cases, commissioners each time said no action had been taken when returning from a closed session.

However, after a secret session with ambulance director Curt Hasart, commission chairman David Mueller told Hasart:

“Great work. Just because we got that one settled, don’t close your eyes. If you’ve got any other deals, bring ’em to us.”

Last modified May 25, 2023