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Marion borrows more for power project

Staff writer

Raising the specter of rotten utility poles collapsing like dominoes or matchsticks, Marion City Council formally approved on Friday the borrowing of additional money within a previously authorized total for electric system upgrades.

The additional borrowing from Kansas Power Pool will cost the city an additional $2,500 a month on its electric bills for 20 years — a total of roughly $600,000 to borrow roughly $400,000 additional.

Replacing rotten poles is expected to delay completion of the project from Feb. 14 to May 30.

The city originally estimated it would need to replace 200 poles. The number will end up being closer to 300, with 29 additional poles recently determined to be substandard.

Sale of police dog

In other action Friday, council members delayed accepting an offer of $6,000 from the sheriff’s department for the city’s drug-detecting police dog, Blue.

Blue left the city police force this fall when handler Aaron Slater transferred back to the sheriff’s department.

The dog cost $7,800 four years ago and is expected to be in service for another four years.

“I think that’s a pretty good deal,” council member Jerry Kline said.

Council members were told proceeds would go into a special fund that might pay for a future replacement of Blue.

The council appeared ready to act, but Mayor David Mayfield said he wanted to continue negotiating with Sheriff Jeff Soyez about Blue’s availability to help with city cases.

Council members did not question a potential conflict in having Mayfield, who is a part-time sheriff’s employee, negotiating with the sheriff’s office on the city’s behalf.

New judge

Council members appointed Emporia attorney Brandy C. Roy-Bachman municipal judge, replacing Newton attorney Randy Pankrantz, who retired after the December session of municipal count.

Roy-Bachman has been in private practice since graduating from Washburn Law School and passing the bar in 2009. She also serves as municipal prosecutor for Emporia.

She will be paid $350 a month in her annual appointment, starting next week.

Board appointments

The council accepted Mayfield’s nominees for seats on various municipal boards:

  • Jay Christensen will replace Bob Kelly on the housing authority.
  • J.R. Ewing will replace Terry Jones on the plannng commission.
  • Jennifer Hess and city council member Zach Collett’s wife, Keri, will replace two of three members of the museum board whose terms are listed on the city’s website as expiring: Lois Smith, Pauline Holub, and Neal Whitaker.

All other community board members whose terms were expiring this year were reappointed.

Because his wife was among the new appointees, Collett abstained from voting on the appointments.

Other business

The council also:

  • Accepted an additional charge of $16,000 for tearing down a chimney on a grant-funded $300,000 project to renovate a building at 301 E. Main St. in anticipation of Bill and Essie’s Barbecue opening at that location. The additional work is not expected to delay the project.
  • Extended what was described as an expiring contract to have a roofing firm inspect Marion City Library’s roof, presumably for warranty purposes, twice annually for $350.
  • Considered signing a contract that would lock in rates for water tower work without actually ordering the work to be undertaken.

Last modified Dec. 28, 2022

 

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