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Council names city's new fire chief

Staff writer

Preston Williams was officially named Marion fire chief at Monday’s city council meeting.

Williams has been with Marion fire department since March 2016 and was on the Ellsworth fire department three years prior to moving to Marion.

A chemical applicator for Cooperative Grain and Supply, he is married to Alex Williams.

He said he plans to build on the reputation of Marion’s volunteer fire department.

“It’s pretty good how it is now,” Williams said. “I just want to get better training and better equipment for the department. I want to make sure we keep it up or improve it.”

City council candidate Ruth Herbel challenged council members on financing for an upcoming $3.9 million water line replacement project.

Herbel said she wonders how Marion

residents, with a 19.5% poverty rate, will pay water rate increases connected to the project.

“This is a project that needs to be done, but it could be done in segments so it would not be a burden to anyone,” Herbel said. “In other words, pay as we go.”

Financing was originally arranged through a United States Department of Agriculture loan at 3.125% interest, but interest rates have since dropped to 2.2% for a loan through Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s revolving water fund, which makes loans to rural water districts or small cities.

City administrator Roger Holter estimates he could save about $1.7 million over the life of the loan by getting a KDHE loan with a lower interest rate and a 20-year term.

“If we shorten the term to 20 years, it will add $17.73 to the base rate, making it $47.73,” Holter said.

The city’s base rate for water is now $30.

Council members gave Holter permission Monday to pursue alternative financing for the project.

Last modified Aug. 14, 2019

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