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Officials persist in idealistic quest for town vision

Staff writer

After an Oct. 6 meeting to define a vision for the City of Marion yielded a low turnout, Marion Mayor Todd Heitschmidt and City Administrator Roger Holter didn’t shy away from the idealistic premise of constructing an all-hands-on-deck plan for what the city will be in 2029, 15 years from now.

Heitschmidt and Holter realized simply announcing a meeting and hoping for high attendance wasn’t a particularly effective strategy and they decided to be more active in soliciting opinions from organizations within the community.

Groups Heitschmidt and Holter have (together or individually) spoken to are Marion Advancement Campaign, of which Heitschmidt is the president, Marion Senior Center, Marion Ministerial Alliance, Marion County Power Ups, Marion Economic Development Inc., the city planning commission, the library board, the airport board, and USD 408 Board of Education.

Heitschmidt spoke at last week’s board of education meeting, and Superintendent Lee Leiker said the visit was appreciated.

“Part of the vision of our school board is to be a team player in community advancement,” he said.

However, Leiker said the school wants its students to be successful wherever they choose to go — be it in Marion County or elsewhere.

“Some students will certainly thrive in our community, and some in other areas, but we want to prepare them to achieve success wherever they’re at,” he said.

Leiker said the board will discuss more thoroughly what it can do to contribute to a Marion vision at its December meeting.

As for how participation can help the district, Leiker was unsure when asked how it could aid the district.

“I don’t know that I know the answer to that yet,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll develop that answer as we go through the visioning process and can define that answer as we work with other entities.”

Heitschmidt and Holter addressed Power Ups, a group for young professionals in rural areas, as well. Members took the opportunity to offer ideas such as creating a hiking and bicycle trail between Hillsboro Cove and Marion, as well as opening up an area of the creek near Central Park for fishing. Power Ups members expressed a willingness to volunteer to put ideas into action, as well.

“It’s that type of more immediate action we hadn’t anticipated,” Heitschmidt said. “If anything, we can help coordinate and reduce barriers in doing things in this city, streamlining the process to get government out of the way.”

At that meeting, Heitschmidt and Holter handed out pamphlets prompting responders to draw their literal vision of Marion County. Heitschmidt even suggested that schoolteachers solicit feedback from their students.

“This idea is age appropriate to all that can understand, from kindergartners to 95-year-old senior citizens,” he said. “It’s not Todd’s plan, not Roger’s plan, not city council’s plan, it’s the community’s. That’s what we’re working on.”

Heitschmidt and Holter voiced intentions to go to other groups within the community as well, Circles, the Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, and any group that would like to meet with them.

“We’re trying to reach out to as many different organizations and groups that we can,” Heitschmidt said. “We’re really soliciting to try and get the feedback to get the broadest information possible.”

Heitschmidt said the project is long term, with hopes of a finished comprehensive vision of Marion’s future ready by the end of 2015.

“We’re in no hurry,” he said.

Last modified Nov. 20, 2014

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