Marquette restores chamber funding

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

The Marquette Council unanimously approved restoring funding to the McGregor-Marquette Chamber of Commerce at its April 19 meeting. The city will contribute $700 per month, or $8,400 per year, the same amount it was contributing when funding  ceased in 2013.

When the city withdrew funding in 2013, officials cited communication problems and a lack of accountability for the spending of funds. Over the past two years, the issue has continuously come up at meetings, as some council members pushed to restore funding in order to aid Marquette businesses, who have remained chamber members. Others on the council wanted assurances of regular reports from the chamber and a breakdown of how the money would be spent before restoring funds.

Councilman John Ries noted that at the meeting, questioning, “Do we know what the money’s going to be used for? Did we ever figure that out? I’ve been in favor of supporting the chamber; I just want to know where the money’s going.”

Mayor Larry Breuer said Marquette funding would support the chamber’s advertising efforts.

“Funding would go in a pool so we’re not overlapping. Let them handle [advertising],” he said. “I think it would be good money spent to go back to funding the chamber.”

City funds already set aside for advertising will go to support the chamber.

Flea market

Resident Mary Jo Pirc, with the Marquette Action Club and organizer of the flea market, went before the council, requesting that one row of vendors at the flea markets be allowed to set up in the sloped area of the parking lot directly under the bridge.

“Attendance has gone down with vendors,” she said, explaining that the parking lot prevents flea market attendees from realizing there are vendors in both the city park and the green space along the bridge approach. “I want to know if we can have one row connecting the valley and the park, so people have that connection.”

Pirc said the move would cost 10 to 15 parking spots, but assured it would not block traffic.

“I don’t want to lose the flea market. All the money goes back into the city,” she stressed. “The vendors hashed it out and, to me, it seems like the thing to do.”

The council unanimously approved the request.

The first flea market of the season will be held Memorial Day weekend. Others will be held Fourth of July weekend and the first two weekends in October.

Fire department beer stand for Fourth of July

The council approved donating $1,167 to McGregor Hook and Ladder to pay for insurance costs for the beer tent and gun raffle members of the fire department plan to organize for Marquette’s Fourth of July event. 

“There’s a group of us who really want to do this,” said firefighter Ryan Bacon, who spoke before the council.

Bacon said funds raised from the event, which will take place on the riverfront, will go toward purchasing a new brush buggy. He stressed that this fundraiser is separate from the regular fund drive the fire department conducts.

“We’re hoping everything goes well,” he said, “and that we can set some money aside for next year and continue for years to come.”

Evans agreement

City attorney Dan Key updated the council on the latest agreement proposed to Dave Evans for completion of his home at the Timber Ridge Subdivision and removal of a mobile home, which was placed in violation of city code.

“We’ve come to an agreement that the city agrees not to enforce its laws as long as the permanent structure is completed by Nov. 1, 2016,” Key said.

If the permanent structure (his home) is not completed by that date, Key said Evans could be granted an extension until March 1, 2017, upon presentation of a viable construction plan to the city council detailing the nature of any unfinished construction and how it will be completed by the extended deadline.

If Evans is granted an extension, and work on the home is not complete and the mobile home still remains, Evans would have to pay $200 for each day past March 1, 2017, Key stated.

Bench evacuation route

The city received bids from three engineering firms for planning of an emergency evacuation route off the bench. Bids ranged from $18,700 to $45,000. The council decided not to select a firm, though, feeling it should better determine the route and other components of the project.

“We need to define what we want,” Ries said.

“We need to walk it and see what we’re planning on, then have the engineer come,” agreed councilwoman Cindy Halvorson, adding that she’s pursuing funding options with the railroad, and they would need to know exact plans before committing to the project.

Edgar Street project

The council awarded the contract for the Edgar Street Improvement Project to Bacon Concrete, of Postville, at a bid amount of $259,909.90. The project will include sanitary sewer work along with construction of a walking trail. Work is set to begin following the Fourth of  July.

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