City to replace Woody

A wooden sculpture in Central Park will be replaced due to insect damage, Marion City Commission members said Sept. 17.

Commissioners voted to contribute $200 to replace the sculpture of a youth with a basketball, painted in Marion High School colors.

The artist, Gino Salerno of Wichita, named it "A Child at Play." But the community called it "Woody," and the mildly coarse nickname became so entrenched that it is used on the attached nameplate.

The sculpture was installed in 1994. Alden and Betty Slusser hired Salerno after an old oak tree in Central Park was damaged by a storm. The original oak was in poor condition, so the sculpture was made from other wood and attached to the stump.

The work has had a varied career since then. Vandals cut it away and carted it off, though it was recovered. Insects have posed a constant problem, even after the old stump was removed and a concrete pedestal installed in its place.

A portion of the sculpture's arm has fallen away, revealing extensive damage from termites or other insects.

Interim administrator David Mayfield said the Slussers had agreed to pay $1,000 to replace the work. Salerno will carve a new one for the same price as in 1994, $1,100. Since the city doesn't have a stump of adequate size or material, Salerno will provide a cedar stump for an additional $100.


Police officers have dealt with several incidents of skateboarders riding on highways.

Interim police chief Michel Soyez said one officer who was out of town on break sighted skateboarders on 190th, using the hill as a skate track. Soyez said the officer met with the youths' parents to help them understand how deadly the situation could have been.

In addition, other locations in town are dealing with skateboarders using steps, benches, or other items as tests of balance and agility. The flowerbed in Central Park has a number of chipped bricks. At Marion High School, some steps are slick with wax left from the boards, and the concrete edges are wearing off.

The city completed work on a skate park earlier this year, funded in large part by contributions. But many skaters apparently no longer find its features challenging, officers said.

"It's unfortunate," Mayfield said. "There were a lot of people who worked very hard for that park."

Commissioners were given a draft copy of a utility ordinance for review. It was drawn up by a committee that included city representatives and a landlord.

The new ordinance features a higher application fee. It reduces the time in which late payments can be paid in full so that all actions take place in one billing cycle, said Dan Baldwin, county attorney.

It also allows residents, businesses, or landlords to request a hearing from an appeals board, which will include city and community representatives.

"If they choose not to respond (to the notice), I suspect the utilities will be turned off," Baldwin said. "If they choose the hearing, and there's a way to work it out, I suspect we'll go that route."

All current residents have utilities paid in full, Mayfield said. Baldwin said the city has begun collection proceedings against former residents with past due accounts.

Making landlords responsible for paying past-due bills from tenants remains an option under the proposed ordinance, Baldwin said.

"All utilities companies have a system to ensure they get paid," Baldwin said. "And in this case, you are a utility company."

Fire, police

Fire Chief Thad Meierhoff reported that the department answered two calls in June, five in July, and four in August.

The department is budgeting for a $10,000 compressor that can refill several air bottles simultaneously, he reported.

Commissioners approved hiring a police officer with income from a federal grant.

The grant pays up to 75 percent of the new officer's salary and benefits through three years. The city is reimbursed monthly.

Interim administrator David Mayfield said the hiring was budgeted to begin in 2003. Since his salary currently comes from another line item in the budget, there are sufficient funds to hire an officer this year, he said.

In other reports:

Harvey Sanders was named director of public works. He and Marty Fredrickson formerly were co-directors who oversaw other departments. Mayfield said the designation doesn't change Fredrickson's responsibilities. It means he has to spend less time attending commission or administrative meetings.

Crews have worked hard at the cemetery, trimming more than 300 trees.

Fire hydrants were replaced at Cedar and Weldon and at Weldon and Freeborn.

Solid waste collection in August total 134.5 tons.

Annexation of property east of Eisenhower Drive has been completed, reported Susan Cooper, economic development director. The property will be used to build an assisted living center and duplexes by a private development company.

"We're anticipating a formal announcement from Brooks Development so there can be a groundbreaking ceremony," she said.

Commissioners held two executive sessions. One was to meet with Baldwin to discuss information considered privileged in an attorney-client relationship. Purpose was to discuss the county acquisition of KC Development. The other was to protect the privacy of non-elected personnel. Since the city is working without its full-time administrator or housing inspector, commissioners are trying to determine what roles they want Cooper to fill, officials said. Both executive sessions were requested by Mayor Eloise Mueller.