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District 3 race may focus on battle over wind farm, county's roads

Staff writer

Incumbent Randy Dallke says the county needs more money to address its many problems, but challenger Randall M. Eitzen says he is running for the District 3 county commission seat on behalf of taxpayers.

Dallke sat down with the newspaper for an hour-long interview, but Eitzen declined, saying his lawyer in pending suits involving the county and Expedition Wind’s energy project recommended he not be interviewed.

Eitzen did provide a written statement.

“I am running for District 3 commission seat for the taxpayers, not for my own agenda. People need to be proud of Marion County and its historic culture. I want to help make Marion County great again, like it used to be.”

Eitzen has been a staunch opponent of a proposed wind farm in the southern portion of the county, filing three suits — one still active — in an attempt to block development of Expedition Wind. Defendants in the suits have included county commissioners, Expedition Wind, and the planning and zoning commission.

Expedition Wind has an active suit against Eitzen.

According to Dallke, who has served four terms, a bigger budget is needed to resolve a top issue for the county — the condition of its roads.

Road rock now costs $22 a ton.

“The price of supplies and the price of equipment since the turn of the century have just gone up exponentially,” he said.

He said voter will be needed to raise enough money to properly fix the county’s many miles of roads.

It doesn’t help that the road department has one less supervisor than it had before Brice Goebel was hired as engineer, Dallke said.

“I think the public expects the engineer to do more things, but Brice hasn’t settled into his seat yet,” Dallke said.

The commission went from three members to five members a year ago, and Dallke thinks a five-member commission isn’t living up to the public’s expectation.

“For the general public, it looks a lot easier than it really is to make those decisions,” he said. “If it’s that easy, come sit on the commission.”

He also doesn’t believe the county has enough population to support having five commissioners.

He recommends that anyone interested in serving on the commission should know budgets.

“Know what you’re asking for,” Dallke said. “Make sure you have people who know what they need to do.”

Another thing much changed during Dallke’s years on the commission is ambulance service. The service has gone from on-call volunteers to round-the-clock full-time employees. Part of the reason is change in state regulations for emergency medical services, and part is difficulty finding people who will volunteer.

Dallke would like to find a better way to position ambulances that serve the county. Right now, there are two full-time stations, in Marion and Hillsboro.

The city of Hillsboro and the commission are searching for agreement — but haven’t found it yet — on where to locate a new ambulance station in Hillsboro. The city has offered a building, but hasn’t provided a specific location and details, Dallke said.

The city of Hillsboro needs to “step it up,” Dallke said.

“I still say for two towns 10 miles apart and the rest of the county to have 20-to-30-minute waits is wrong,” Dallke said.

He believes the solution is a centralized ambulance station located at Canada.

“Those kinds of decisions are coming for the commission, and they’re coming soon,” Dallke said.

Ambulance director Travis Parmley needs a second-in-command to relieve him of having to go on calls around the clock, Dallke said.

Last modified July 30, 2020

 

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