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City Council appoints new judge

Staff writer

Randy Pankratz, Newton, was appointed as Marion’s municipal court judge Dec. 28.

Mayor Mary Olson made the appointment and council members Steve Smith and Chris Meierhoff voted for the appointment and Jerry Kline voted against it. Bill Holdeman was absent.

Pankratz is currently a municipal judge for Hesston and Halstead. He has been on the bench since 1988 for Hesston and 2007 for Halstead. He lives and operates his law partnership, Adrian and Pankratz in Newton.

Pankratz is also a member of the Kansas Bar Foundation Board of Trustees and was president of the Harvey County Bar Association in 2003-04.

Pankratz will be sworn in April 16 with new council members and hold court April 25.

Disagreement

The judge appointment was one instance of disagreement at the meeting. Most often it was council members questioning city administrator Doug Kjellin.

Kjellin brought forward three bids for a stone wall repair at 327 N. Elm, the residence of Teresa Huffman, who stated at a previous meeting that a city crew damaged her wall.

Kjellin recommended that the council approve the lowest bid, $3,260 from Koch Construction.

However, Smith and Kline examined the bid and requested a clarification on the measurements on the tapered wall. The other bids, $4,978 from Masonry Repair and $3,800 from Jack Boese, specified that the wall would be 3-feet at its height instead of 2.5 feet that Koch specified.

Kjellin argued that the contractor agreed to build the wall to the original measurements but said he would clarify the bid with Koch for the Monday meeting.

The contractors said the work would be completed when weather permits, which could be as soon as March.

“One thing you’ve got to get is when they’re going to do this,” Kline said. “Because they’ll drag this out six months from now.”

A decision on ordinance 1264, utility billing was also tabled until the Jan. 9 meeting.

Kjellin suggested the council repeal the portions of the ordinance that address an appeal process for utility billing.

“Are you saying people shouldn’t come before the council?” Kline said. “You could get burned.”

He presented two options, the other being reforming a Utility Hearing Board.

“I do feel like when there’s a policy in place,” council member Steve Smith said. “We can’t afford to step on that.”

In other business:

  • The council approved a loan agreement with the state of Kansas for the water meter replacement. The ordinance was the final step of the loan application completion, Kjellin said.
  • The council approved licenses for 39 Marion businesses including cereal malt beverage, contractor, electric, kennel, peddler’s, and plumbing licenses.
  • The council approved appointments to eight advisory boards. The planning commission is full with six new members.

The next council meeting will be 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Last modified Jan. 5, 2012

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