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Florence school goes to county

Staff writer

Marion County has acquired yet another empty building to add to its collection of tax-delinquent properties, and it’s a big one.

An auction for the abandoned Florence Memorial High School building took place Tuesday, lasting not even one minute.

No one appeared to bid on the building.

The building, which has been vacant for almost 20 years, served as middle school for Marion-Florence school district until a new middle school was built in Marion.

Since then, the building has fallen into extreme disrepair. Last year, the roof collapsed over the old gymnasium.

Attorney Susan Robson said that it’s up to the county to decide what to do with it.

“The county will have to look at it and maybe make sure it’s safe for the public,” Robson said. “It’s up to the commissioners, but I know they were concerned.”

Commissioners anticipated the problem of no one bidding on it at Monday’s meeting.

The minimum bid was $3,000, and chairman Randy Dallke said that if it were to become theirs, they would need to do something about it.

“It is a danger to the health of people down there,” Dallke said. “I think it’s only good judgment that the county makes sure it’s taken care of.”

According to Robson though, it might not be the county’s building for long.

“Six months after the sale is confirmed, they have a chance to try to sell it again,” Robson said. “So that might be something they pursue.”

At Monday’s meeting, commissioners also discussed the the road sign project, which includes Menno Township.

Road and bridge worker Jesse Smith showed commissioners a variety of road signs they could go with and what their prices were.

Smith told commissioners the section he was looking at to begin the road sign project started at “Meridian to 110th Rds., and then over to Nighthawk Rd., then back up to US-56.”

Smith also said that as they work on the project, they will eventually want to work on more than just the Menno Township area.

“As we do this,” Smith said, “we need to do it throughout the county.”

Dallke agreed with Smith that the entire county would eventually need new signs.

“I would like to see this and would work toward this,” Dallke said, “but trial and error tells me maybe I can change my mind, so don’t hold me accountable. If we fail somewhere, I can back up and try this plan again.”

In other business:

  • Economic development director Teresa Huffman brought to commissioners bids for a vehicle for her to use for departmental purposes. “I have a van and I like it very very very much as far as space inside,” Huffman said. “The seats can lay down, and all of these do that.” The bids were provided by Hillsboro car dealerships, but no decision was made at the meeting.
  • Commissioners approved a chemical bid from Van Diest for $38,011 and a bid from APAC for $64 a ton for 4,000 tons of cold mix.
  • Commissioners interviewed EMS interim director Ed Debesis for the permanent position of EMS director after Monday’s meeting. Applications are still open through Friday.

Last modified Feb. 25, 2016

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