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Holub's speech stresses compassion for poor

Staff writer

County Commissioner Dan Holub is a jokester. He routinely ribs the other commissioners (and the press) during commission meetings, bringing a lighthearted tint to government work.

In Monday’s meeting, however, he brought a very sobering tone when he asked the commission to consider the possibility of repurposing funds the county accrues from scrap metal and the sale of old equipment to help some of Marion County’s most needy citizens.

“We all know that the economy’s gone to crap,” he began. “A lot of these different groups are trying to get grants to help out with some of this stuff, but the state and federal funds seem to have dried up. There isn’t much help.”

Holub cited the movie “American Winter,” which was screened by Circles of Marion County on Thursday at the community center. The movie details the difficulties of American poverty.

“A lot of people think, ‘if they really wanted to they could get out and find jobs,’ and I was one of them, but these people, there was eight of them discussed in there, and they did everything right,” he said. “You had people used to make 40, 50 grand a year that can’t pay their rent.

“People going hungry in Marion County is — I never thought I’d see the day where in this country, but here we are. It’s here.”

Holub said senior citizens are one of the more easily overlooked groups, as they often decline help. He also said he’s talked to schoolteachers that say kids come to school on Mondays “famished.”

His message to the commission was: “If not us, who?”

“Relying on the feds and the state is hopeless,” he said. “They’re sending our money to Afghanistan and Pakistan and all kinds of places, our people are getting let behind.”

The commission last year donated a portion of the money it made from scrap metal to the Marion County Emergency Food Bank. Holub wanted to dedicate that money toward similar programs. He said he wanted to ensure it was distributed fairly and to deserving people.

“We’ve got a long way to go, we need some system to distribute, make sure the people that need it get it,” Holub said.

He said organizations like the Ministerial Alliance and Families and Communities Together do a good job, but could collaborate and work with the county more.

“When I felt best about anything after leaving one of these meetings is when we were able to put that money into the food bank,” he said. “We always worry about equipment and all kinds of stuff, but people don’t seem to get much attention. And that’s just the nature of government, government is not good at that sort of thing. It isn’t. Whether it be federal, state, us, government just doesn’t do it.”

After 10 minutes of monologue, commissioners Randy Dallke and Roger Fleming chimed in, saying they agreed with Holub, but they stressed the importance of budgeting and ensuring that those benefited are truly in need of the benefits.

Holub also talked about Circles, and praised the way in which they help impoverished individuals find and use available resources.

“The thing that absolutely amazes me, it’s not a freebie,” Holub said. “You learn, they make you go to classes, you get counseling, how to get yourself out of this, and how to stay out of it.

“That in my mind is social services the way it should be.”

Holub said it was “just something to ponder on,” and the commission concluded the discussion with no tangible action regarding a program or donation.

Last modified Oct. 23, 2014

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