Curiosity may have once killed a cat, but it brewed a spat at Monday’s commission meeting when Gene Winkler apparently asked one too many questions.
When Economic Development director Teresa Huffman said she pays half the cost for small businesses to advertise with slides shown before movies at Chisholm Trail 8 Theatres in Newton, Winkler wanted to know more.
“If the county is paying half the price to get on that then it should be available to all businesses in Marion County,” Winkler said. “Do all businesses in Marion County know about it?”
“It’s for small retail business, not just all business,” Huffman said. “We don’t have that kind of budget.”
“But don’t you think the big people need as much help, or even more, than some of the little people?” Winkler asked.
“The big people should have more dollars that they can do it,” Huffman said. “If you’re just a small ‘mom and pop’ operation, it’s very difficult to have the dollars to do much marketing.”
Winkler asked Huffman what kind of budget she has for the program, but before Huffman could answer, chairman Randy Dallke jumped in.
“Gene, are we here to just pick on people?” Dallke asked.
“I’m just here to ask some questions” Winkler said.
“What I’m asking is if you want to know these questions we can put that out,” Dallke said. “We’re just trying to go over this and see what we can do.”
“Well maybe I don’t even need to be here,” Winkler said as he walked out of the meeting.
“Well I’m just asking,” Dallke said. “I’m not trying to pick on people but that just what it seems people are doing and I’m not here for that.”
When the topic turned to comments from a Feb. 18 meeting that there should be greater accountability for the county economic development department, Huffman first addressed commissioners.
“I’m accountable to you guys,” Huffman said. “I bring in and send you reports, I bring in all the magazines that we have ads in, I report all that, it just doesn’t get reported in the newspaper. And you hold me responsible.”
Marion National Bank president Jim Hefley suggested more could be done to inform the public.
“I realize there’s confidentiality in what you do but can’t any of that be listed on your websites?” Hefley asked. “I don’t’ think that would be too labor intensive to do.”
Dallke seemed to think otherwise.
“She’s only one person” Dallke said. “We don’t have no secretary or anything like that in that department.”
County clerk Tina Spencer suggested to commissioners that Huffman’s reports could easily be put onto the website.
“So are other departments going to be expected to do that too?” Huffman asked.
Holub was more accommodating.
“We just have a request here to know this information” Holub said.
One other item from the list that was discussed was that not many people know what their own county provides.
“There’s people in the county that don’t know we have a county lake,” Holub said, “so there’s probably people that don’t know there’s sausage makers in Hillsboro and Peabody.”
“And Durham and Goessel,” Huffman added.
“I get surprised all the time with what’s in the county that I was not aware of,” Holub said. “Promotion needs to be not only outside but inside the county also.”
In other business:
- Commissioners approved the purchase of a Dodge Grand Caravan for $21,846 from Midway Motors for the economic development department. Holub and commissioner Lori Lalouette voted yes, while Dallke voted no.