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Huffman upset with City of Marion crew

Staff writer

Teresa Huffman stepped forward to speak to Marion City Council on Monday and she was angry, visibly.

Usually, as Marion County Economic Development Director, Huffman is even tempered. However, Huffman was speaking to the council as a citizen of Marion.

Huffman said equipment used by city cleanup crews, who were clearing city land of fallen trees near Huffman’s property after the windstorms June 17, had smashed her stone retaining wall.

“I need that retaining wall, that is my access to my property,” Huffman said.

City Administrator Doug Kjellin talked to Huffman at the time and agreed to repair the wall to its original state.

The city’s solution was to apply concrete to the wall to bind the stones back together. Huffman brought in pictures to the meeting that showed visible cracks and holes in the wall.

“They just smeared that horrible concrete mix on the wall,” Huffman said. “It will take a lot of work to fix that.”

She said she went to Kjellin personally to complain about the repair and the city administrator responded that he thought the concrete fix looked good.

Kjellin initially denied making this statement but rethought his words.

“I thought it looked good before but I don’t now considering that there’s cracks and holes in it,” Kjellin said.

The council gave Kjellin the authority to hire a stonemason to restore the wall to its original state.

“I don’t want city workers to do that,” Huffman said. “I want it done properly.”

Huffman authored the second city complaint in the past two months. At the Aug. 10 meeting, mayor Mary Olson spoke on behalf of a resident living in the 400 block of Locust whose sprinkler system was damaged during trenching completed by city crews over the past year.

Olson accused Kjellin of procrastinating to fix that damage wrought by city crews.

Kjellin said the resident complained only three weeks after the work was completed.

311 E. Santa Fe

The City Council voted unanimously to give Kjellin the authority to purchase property at 311 E. Santa Fe Street for $500.

Council members were initially hesitant to agree to purchase the property saying they did not want to be involved in the land acquisition business.

“If I had a property I wasn’t paying taxes on I might just take $500 or $10,000 from the city,” Olson said.

Because the plan is to tear down a house deemed a nuisance, the council eventually agreed.

“I feel like this is a blight and we’ll have to take care of it one way or another,” council member Steve Smith said. “We’re not smart if we do not do this.”

Kjellin also brought another property at 306 N. Roosevelt Street that Wells Fargo wanted to donate to the city, transferring the title free of charge and paying all past utility bills.

The council turned down the chance to own the property, forgoing paying taxes on the vacant home.

“I don’t think it’s a tearer downer yet,” Kjellin said.

Kjellin said he e-mailed the representative from Wells Fargo with contact information for Marion Advancement Campaign and Marion Economic Development Incorporated.

“We have community minded groups that could do something with it,” Kjellin said.

Auction

The council approved several city owned items to be sent to Purple Wave Company to be auctioned.

Including: a 1995 Ford Crown Victoria, a 2002 Ford Crown Victoria, a fire truck tank, four old fire hydrants, 300-gallon totes, a small Ford tractor, a David Brown Mower, Galion Steel Roller, and a IHC Oil Distributor.

Truck parking

The council decided to table further discussion on a truck-parking ordinance brought forward by city attorney Keith Collett.

The potential ordinance was spurred when a truck owner jumped the curb of a residence and parked the vehicle in the lawn. The ordinance would prevent trucks from parking in any residential area for more than 45 minutes without a truck trailer permit.

Council members were unwilling to approve the ordinance Monday because there is a difference between truck drivers parking in a driveway and on their front lawn.

“I wish common sense would rule,” Smith said.

“Common sense is often governed by statute,” Collett responded.

Mapping

The council tabled a decision about a mapping proposal offered by Midland GIS Solutions.

The company is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the city has qualified for a grant from the agency, which would cover $7,600 of the $11,227 cost.

The maps would provide an up-to-date inventory of the city’s primary electrical utilities.

“In the event of Greensburg-type disaster,” Kjellin said. “If a section of town is just gone, you’ll know what assets are gone.”

Kjellin said FEMA is recommending mapping because the agency would withhold reimbursement funding for cities without current maps.

“I’m not in favor of FEMA doing anything,” council member Bill Holdeman said.

Payroll

The council approved having city employees’ paychecks to be direct deposited.

Employees without bank accounts will be given a payroll card. Direct deposit will begin Jan. 1.

The next Marion City Council meeting will be 4:30 p.m. Oct. 17.

Last modified Oct. 6, 2011

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