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Development group likely to disband

Staff writer

The future of a county economic development corporation hangs in limbo after the resignation of three core board members.

Jared Jost, Hannah Bourbon, and Clint Seibel all recently submitted resignations from the board effective Dec. 31.

“I have some other volunteer work commitments coming up and they take a lot of time to serve successfully,” Jost said. “I feel like my time is being pulled to those other things.”

Seibel said he, too, is balancing commitments.

“I’m fulfilling an unexpired term,” Seibel said. “I just evaluated my time, my energy, and my resources over the last year, and I just felt it’s not a good use of my time.”

The board of directors will hold the next monthly meeting Dec. 11, and a decision whether to limp forward or fold will likely be made. Annual restructuring of the board was earlier tabled.

“We’ll have one more meeting, at which we’ll determine the way the group is going to go,” Seibel said.

The situation has county commissioners wondering about the group’s future as well.

Commissioner Randy Dallke, on the commission when the county originally launched the program, said it’s time to put the matter of the corporation on a commission agenda.

“I think we have to reevaluate it,” Dallke said. “I’ve always said at any time the county could pull the funding.”

Dallke said the corporation might fold on its own. He mentioned the difficulty the corporation has experienced trying to firm up funding.

The city of Marion initially provided funds, but ultimately voted to withdraw in July. Hillsboro, reluctant to fund the corporation from the beginning, followed suit and voted not to fund the corporation.

“It hurts me to know that we can’t play in the same sandbox,” Dallke said. “We knew that going in but I thought it would help that the government didn’t have its fingers in it. I don’t understand why the city of Marion wishes it to fail — that’s their goal. That’s why they backed out and played dirty pool. It’s a disappointment to me that this happened.”

Marion mayor Todd Heitschmidt disagrees that the city wanted the corporation to fail.

“I believe we’re disappointed as well,” Heitschmidt said. “We made our decision based on what was happening. I don’t think any of us wished this to fail. We were the first one to step in and support the corporation. The events that unfolded through the board were ultimately the issues that caused it not to succeed.”

Dallke also pointed to apparent lack of support from commission chairman Dianne Novak.

“If we’re going to have a commissioner dog and harp on it, that doesn’t help,” Dallke said.

Commissioner Kent Becker, expected to appoint a board member, still has not done so.

“I’ve been trying and trying to get somebody, and it’s been a struggle to get someone to fill that position,” Becker said. “It appears it’s going to be awfully hard to fill positions, and without a director, there’s not a lot of ideas.”

Becker said Seibel, the corporation board chairman, has done an admirable job.”

Becker also said the county needs to discuss the corporation.

“At some point in time you just have to move on down the road,” Becker said. “We’re going to have to address it soon. At some point in time you can’t leave it limping along.”

Bourbon and board member Merlyn Entz, appointed to fulfill an unexpired term ending in December, could not be reached for comment.

Last modified Nov. 28, 2018

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