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County transfers ownership of Bowron building

Staff writer

Commissioners unanimously approved transferring the Bowron Building to the Marion Advancement Campaign Monday.

The building needs a new roof and other repairs, but Marion economic development director Randy Collett hopes to have them done within six months.

“Our history and heritage is a priceless thing,” he said. “The Bowron Building is part of Marion’s history, it’s been here since 1886.”

Possibilities for the space include a retail space, a studio apartment, and a small theater.

Commissioner Randy Dallke initially was on the fence about the decision, since outside sources have shown interest in helping the county sell it, he said.

“The county spent $65,000 for the building,” he said. “I’m willing to do something with it, but I’m also willing to try and recover some money for the county.”

Although Dallke and commissioner Kent Becker want tax benefits, the question is the fastest way to do that.

“I look at, not just Marion, but Hillsboro too, and see buildings along Main St. that have been for sale a long time or finally sold for 10 to 20 percent of what they originally asked,” Becker said. “If I weigh that against the tax benefit of getting it back onto the roles, I’m leaning toward transferring it.”

The advancement campaign is considering partnering with Marion Land Bank to provide a tax abatement to whomever uses the space.

Roads around the Diamond Vista wind farm, even those outside agreed- upon haul routes, are being used frequently, commissioners said.

Commissioners have seen heavier vehicles like two-and-a-half ton trucks and backhoes using roads not on the routes too.

The high rate of traffic has led to a number of complaints from residents about potholes and poor driving conditions.

“We have the right to cut that off if they’re not maintaining roads,” commission chairman Dianne Novak said. “I’m to that point.”

Enel Green Power, owner of Diamond Vista, is remedying certain roads. The plan is to take extra rock from other areas and redistribute it at sites between 330th and 340th Rds.

The road and bridge department has spent $30,000 trying to maintain roads used by Enel GP, Hamm said.

Any road used by the project falls under the road maintenance agreement, whether it’s on the haul route or not. When construction on the wind farm finishes, Enel GP is required to leave all roads in the same condition or better than when the project started.

When contacted, Enel public relations manager AJ Goessellin said he would return a call.

Tanner Yost and Jon Halbgewachs, engineers with Kirkham Michael discussed the possibility of expanding the company’s role to a more consistent basis.

The company visits counties one day per month, charging $977.60 per month, plus fees for additional services.

If an agreement is signed, the county is not prevented from dealing with other engineering firms.

“There are certainly times where someone else might have a different expertise,” Halbgewachs said. We have no trouble competing, that’s part of life.”

Having an agreement is helpful when permits and inspections are being done, road and bridge supervisor Jesse Hamm said.

“It’s good knowing I have someone there to start punching those out right away,” he said. “Those can be time consuming and no matter what, I have to go through an engineering service.”

The commission raised the possibility of using company technicians to help improve county roads by doing inspections.

“It’s going to take a bit more to get that in place than one day or a suggestion,” Novak said.

Last modified Oct. 31, 2018

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