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Marion City Council discusses police items

Staff writer

The introduction of a new police officer and revisions to the firearms section of the Marion Police Department employee manual and topped the Marion City Council agenda Monday.

Police Chief Tyler Mermis introduced newly hired officer Sarah Alam, who is the department’s fourth full-time officer.

“She will be a great fit to our department. She’ll be the first full-time woman police officer in Marion,” Mermis said.

“I think it’s a really good asset for you to have a female in the department,” Mayor Mary Olson said.

Allen will spend the next two months working locally, and from May to August will attend the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in Hutchinson to complete mandatory training for full-time officers.

Mermis said the caseload this year is running 30 to 40 cases higher than in 2011. If the trend continues, Mermis indicated a fifth full-time officer might be necessary.

Firearms and floors

Mermis presented proposed revisions to the police employee manual that define the official firearms used by the department, but provide an option for officers to purchase and use weapons that are more suited for their individual needs and preferences.

“The guys don’t have a problem going out and buying the ones they want to use,” Mermis said.

In response to a question from Olson, Mermis said officers would have to pass standard firing tests to qualify individually purchased weapons.

“As long as they go out and qualify and put those bullets on that target, I’ll authorize them to use that weapon,” Mermis said.

The council deferred formal action on the revisions until the next council meeting.

Mermis discussed items related to maintenance and modernization of the police department offices.

“We started painting, and should be in the next two days done with the painting project,” Mermis said. “The only thing we’ve got to worry about is doing the flooring next. The flooring is cracking up.”

Council member Steve Smith asked about the condition of electrical floor outlets.

“They’re broken, caved in, and that causes a trip hazard, and an electrical hazard,” Mermis said.

Mermis provided preliminary replacement estimates for flooring, but the city will conduct a formal bid process if sufficient funds are found within the current budget, Kjellin said.

“There’s not a maintenance line item for the Police Department, so we need to get a little further in the year and see if we can take it out of the general for city hall,” Kjellin said. “The initial estimates are higher than I expected.”

Streets and power

Council member Jerry Kline expressed concern over the deteriorating condition of Freeborn Street.

“What are our plans for South Freeborn?” Kline asked.

Kjellin said some areas could be addressed with standard repairs like cold-patching, while others will need much more extensive intervention.

“The 100 blocks of both North and South Freeborn are so far gone that we’re really just going to have to look at 2013 and try to budget $150,000 to $200,000 to get four or five of these blocks done. I think we can get it done.” Kjellin said.

“It’s not worth throwing a whole bunch of cold patch into that for a year if this time next year we can do a whole road,” Kjellin said.

Kline asked Kjellin about the status of converting electric power lines from 2,400 volts to the more efficient 12,500-volt distribution system.

“We just got done putting the primary up on the west side of Eisenhower Street, and the ball field is now on the 12.5,” Kjellin said.

“The agenda for us is to get down on Eisenhower clear down to Denver by the end of the year, and that will get the grade school, the Marion County Special Ed Cooperative switched over, and we’ll have the football field and all those lights,” Kjellin said.

“They have to replace the transformers when they do that, and it can be expensive. That’s why we’ve only done a section at a time,” council member Steve Smith said.

In other business:

  • The council approved the rezoning of four lots south of the new Marion County Jail owned by the county from residential to general commercial.
  • Board of Zoning Appeals member Darvin Markley and Planning Commission member Chad Gormley asked the council for budgetary authority to hire a planning consultant. The consultant would conduct training designed to improve the knowledge and capabilities of the two groups, and potentially review records and bylaws. The council agreed with a suggestion by Kjellin that $1,000 from the economic development budget be allocated without the need for an official vote by the council.
  • The council approved the low bid of $550 from Arbor Master Tree Service for removal of 14 tree stumps. Other bids submitted were from B & B Services, $2,973; JD and Sons, $1,125; The Rock Shop, $1,292; and two from Out on a Limb, $1,900 and $1,300.
  • The council approved an agreement with TMHC Services of Topeka for drug and alcohol testing services that comply with U.S. Department of Transportation requirements for personnel with CDL licenses.
  • Marion County Emergency Management Director Dan D’Albini discussed a summary of the county hazard analysis plan.
  • The council approved bills in the amount of $59,081 and payroll in the amount of $26,520.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Mar. 19.

Last modified March 7, 2012

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