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Beneke talks to city council

Hurls an obscenity as he walks off

Staff writer

Monday’s Marion city council meeting got off to a testy start when Lincolnville feedlot owner Mike Beneke addressed the council during public forum, then walked out dissatisfied with their response.

“Stick it up your a—,” Beneke told them.

Beneke and the city have been in dispute since July when he piled several tons of silage on property he owns at 601 W. Main St.

“I’d like to know what you are going to do about the other silage,” Beneke said at the meeting.

Two piles of silage are stored on property owned by Rocky Hett. The ground is inside the city limit but northeast of the body of the city.

City administrator Roger Holter told Beneke that the city had previously inspected the silage on Hett’s property. That property is zoned for agricultural use and the silage is properly covered, Holter said.

“It has been thoroughly investigated and is not in violation,” Holter said.

“It’s a safety issue,” Beneke said.

“No, it’s not,” Holter answered.

Soon after Beneke walked out the door, two loud bangs sounded outside. Beneke, driving away in a front-loader, had dropped the bucket in the street. Council members stood and looked out windows. Police chief Tyler Mermis went out to look around.

Monday was not Beneke’s first appearance at city council. On July 30, after he was given a citation July 24 telling him his pile of silage — which was still being delivered at that time —violated zoning regulations, and he had to remove it.

The two-month battle between Beneke and the city was on.

The city’s zoning complaint was dismissed and replaced with a notice that the silage was a health issue because of odor and drainage that would be released as it ferments.

The dispute then moved to the streets, with Beneke parking semis and farm equipment downtown and his six-door limousine on 3rd St. across from Central National Bank with the words, “Up yours, Mayor H” written in the dust on the car. Mayor Todd Heitschmidt is president of CNB.

In mid-August, Heitschmidt gave Beneke two written notices not to trespass on Heitschmidt’s personal property or bank property.

At an Aug. 30 municipal court hearing, judge Randall Pankratz warned Beneke that if he failed to comply with the court’s order to remove the silage, he can be fined $100 per day and ordered to serve up to 30 days in jail.

Beneke estimated moving the silage at this stage of fermentation will cause $20,000 to $25,000 damage to its $120,000 value.

At another court hearing, Pankratz gave Beneke an additional 30 days to remove the silage, but ordered him to post $30,000 bond.

In last week’s Marion County Record, Beneke ran a classified ad that read: “Want or need to make some quick cash? Just transfer your Marion or Herington Central National Bank account to the 1st National Bank at Hope, KS with convenient branch locations at Herington and Miltonvale and receive $200. Just transfer to any other bank and still receive $100. Offer expires 9/21/2018. (620)-381-0283.”

Beneke said two people took advantage of the offer and moved their accounts.

By Tuesday morning, some silage has been removed from the west end of the pile.

In other matters at Monday’s meeting, council members moved forward plans to replace water lines in the city.

The project is estimated at $4 million and the city hopes to begin work in the spring.

Chelsea Morris, of United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, said the agency has approved Marion for a $3,428,000 loan for the water project. The loan is contingent upon getting a $600,000 Community Development Block Grant to complete funding.

“We initially sought funding from Rural Development in the form of a low-cost loan and matching grant, and then layered on a CDBG grant request,” Holter said.

The city had hoped to get $1.25 million as a grant and $2.17 as a low-cost loan from Rural Development, but Morris told council members that since the city operates a fiscally-responsible utility with rates within their guidelines for rural water systems, and because there are no water quality or safety violations, they qualify for a loan but not a grant.

Last modified Sept. 27, 2018

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