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Collett is new EcoDevo director

Staff writer

Marion City Council gave the nod Monday to the hiring of a new economic development director.

Hired was Randy Collett, a Marion native who returned to the city about a year and a half ago after he retired from a 33-year career in telecommunications.

City Administrator Roger Holter said five candidates originally submitted resumes for the position, but one withdrew, leaving four applicants to choose from.

Collett wants to improve cooperation among Hillsboro, Marion, and Marion County economic development leaders.

“I think the biggest challenge as I’ve observed over the last year and a half is cooperation,” Collett said.

He wants to work toward consistency in economic development so to enhance development all around.

Not only will his business background prove useful in the endeavor, his knowledge of the county will as well, Collett said.

“I think I’m coming into this with my eyes open,” Collett said. “I grew up around here and I’ve lived here and observed for the last year and a half.”

Council members also reviewed information from City Attorney Susan Robson and Holter regarding a dirt fill project on First St.

The issue arose two weeks ago when property owner Michel Soyez told council members his concerns about property adjoining his own being used as a location to dump dirt. The property at the center of the matter belongs to John Wheeler.

Soyez contended problems with water drainage will develop and that his and his neighbors’ properties could be damaged. Neighborhood residents deserve information on how they will be affected, Soyez said.

Holter told council members the city’s calculation of how much water could build up at the site because of using it for dirt dumping is far lower than Soyez’s calculation.

Holter said the project was earlier reviewed by Federal Emergency Management Administration, but the city has requested another review.

Council members tabled the matter for a second time, pending more information.

Insurance for the annual Chingawassa Days will no longer be paid entirely by the city after council members decided to split the rising cost with the Chingawassa Days committee.

As the celebration has grown from a community event to one promoted regionally, and as a beer garden has been added to its offerings, insurance rates have notched up each year, Holter told council members.

In 2010, insurance cost the city $1,325, but by 2015, insurance cost $2,279. Council members voted to pay $1,500 toward the cost of insurance for this year’s event, with the remainder to be paid by the Chingawassa Days committee.

In other matters, council members:

  • Reviewed bids for modifications of East Park and selected Manhattan-based Trinium, Inc. to add equipment to the park.
  • Heard a report from Holter that the city is entered in a Hometown Showdown contest conducted by the League of Kansas Municipalities, with photos of cities to be voted on by visitors to the KLM Facebook page and the winning photo to be featured on the cover of the Kansas Government Journal.

Last modified Feb. 17, 2016

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