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Committee chairman voices frustrations on dirt roads

Staff writer

The state of county roads was a hotbed of discussion at Monday’s county commission meeting.

Chairman of the county road and bridge committee and Liberty township trustee, Lisa Peters, voiced her frustrations.

“I’m coming forward for every resident who lives in Liberty, Menno, and Lehigh,” she said. “It’s over, the roads are gone.”

The roads are full of pockmarks and the shoulders are overgrown, she said.

Part of the problem is that the area is understaffed, Peters said. The employee hired to maintain roads in Liberty Township recently resigned because of the workload.

“Part of the frustration is the roads are so bad,” she said. “He’s so overwhelmed and he can’t fix them anymore.”

Commission chairman Dianne Novak expressed agreement with Peters and other audience members.

“I can’t dispute anything you’ve said,” she said. “I’m almost thinking we should use private contracting.”

Liberty was not the only township represented. Also present were representatives from Menno and Lehigh.

The problem is not limited to one area of the county, county resident John Siebert said.

“I’ve been out here 40 years and Yarrow is the worst I’ve ever seen,” he said.

Siebert lives along Yarrow and 150th, on the other side of the county.

There were several problems raised repeatedly.

The road is not raised for water to run off into ditches, Clear Creek resident Clint Kroupa said.

The solution might be making sure department employees are educated properly, Novak said.

“We spend a lot of money in training,” she said. “I question the training we’re receiving because it’s not working.”

Road and bridge supervisor Jesse Hamm was not present because he was not scheduled to speak.

Novak selected Lloyd Meier as her appointee to the Marion County Community Economic Development Corp. The county is allotted three appointments for the development group. The commission voted 2-1, with Dallke opposed.

Meier apologized, saying he did not know what he had done to warrant the opposition.

Dallke promised to set up a meeting so they could discuss his thoughts on the decision.

Commissioners discussed filling the role of county administrator.

Dallke expressed doubts about whether filling the position is worth it.

“The county administrator could be great but it could be a sad thing too,” he said. “Just look at the two or three cities in our county that had them. You can get a good one and you can get one that’s a loafer.”

A major cost of filling the administrator role is that supplementary roles like personnel and payroll would be needed too, he said.

The commission entered a 10-minute executive session to discuss the vacant director’s position in the Planning and Zoning department. Those included in the session were the commissioners, county clerk Tina Spencer, county counselor Brad Jantz, and planning and zoning assistant Sharon Omstead.

After the commission reconvened, Sharon Omstead was introduced as the interim director.

Omstead and consultant Russ Ewy appeared earlier in the meeting to discuss the county’s lot-splitting policy.

The old policy was that a lot could be split twice, with a minimum area requirement of three acres and a maximum of 10. The proposed change was that lots could be split up to four times, with all other requirements met. The motion passed unanimously.

The commission entered executive session with Spencer and Jantz to discuss the hiring of a new EMS director. No decision was reached.

Last modified Sept. 13, 2018

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