Marion County Care Facility to be decommissioned

Marion County Care Facility.

KNOXVILLE — To keep the Marion County Care Facility open, it would take about $140,000 to install a new on-site septic system. But the move would only take care of one of the many issues for this aging structure, county officials said Tuesday.

The Marion County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to decommission the property. The board was in favor of notifying Tenco in exercising a termination clause to begin the process of putting the property up for sale at the Marion County Care Facility because of structural problems.

Marion County Supervisor Craig Agan said the the county has looked at the facility and tried to do what is best for the people and county.

The county met the Department of Natural Resources requirements in making repairs to the lagoon, putting a new diversion around the top to keep excess water from coming in and building a fence around the lagoon to make sure it was safe.

“We did all of this to try and do the best thing. The county had no idea that this sewer was in terrible shape,” Agan said. “We have had a multitude of furnace problems. The numbers haven’t been too bad as of yet, even with fixing roof problems. But the accumulative point, is this only solves one problem with an aging structure.”

Agan said it’s a simple answer. Tenco employees are good people. They do a good job caring for those who need extra help in this world. He said he is afraid that this is not the place for the facility any longer.

The board agreed that the cost to repair the building was beginning to weigh too much on the county’s funds.

Up to 14 residents who live at the facility will eventually have to be moved to other Tenco locations.

When addressing the property, the county is looking at two separate issues, housing and agricultural land.

“It would be my hope that a possible buyer in a construction or farming equipment might have the machinery to do that type of work themselves,” Agan said.

One other item was brought to the board: approving a plan to move forward with a sewer project for the Attica and Pershing area.

The supervisors voted 2-1, with Agan voting against it, to begin developing a work plan to replace and install 100 individual septic systems in Attica and Pershing. Those 100 individual septic systems were identified as needing replaced.

County Supervisor Mark Raymie said this project has been mentioned in several previous meetings.

Even as he voted to approve moving forward with developing a plan, Raymie voiced his concerns with the project.

“It will be the cost to all of Marion County to support the project. That is the issue. It’s the same issue as the Marion County Care facility,” Raymie said. “Any other thing that Marion County has bought and added to our infrastructure cost, that cost is not to just the individual, that cost gets armed by everybody.”

Agan said he told the residents of Pershing and Attica that the board has been looking at all their options.

Raymie said the county has to be mindful of the cost of the project. Without a guarantee of ownership and operation by Attica or Pershing, it would fall on Marion County to be taxed for it and maintain it.

“I can’t be responsible for future board of supervisors and taxpayers of Marion County suddenly getting hit with a utility cost,” Raymie said. “Pella and Knoxville are structured for the cost, the county is not.”

Another concern is knowing how the county would maintain an in-ground sewer system without knowing the cost, and if that cost would default to Marion County. Raymie said there is not enough money to support it.

“The cost is completely unknown,” Raymie said.

Also approved:

• A special event application for the use of the gazebo by the courthouse to announce the parade during Nationals.

• An application for the Iowa Department of Transportation Safety Improvement Program for temporary traffic signals.

Ethan Goetz is a general assignment reporter for the Knoxville Journal-Express. He can be reached in the newsroom at 641-842-2155, ext. 19, or via email at reporter@pellachronicle.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ethan_Goetz.

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